All About Yogurt

Did you know that yogurt consumption has been associated with higher nutrient intakes, better diet quality and improved metabolic profiles in adults? Recent studies show that children who consumed yogurt daily had lower blood pressure, lower HgbA1c levels, and smaller hip circumferences than children who did not consume yogurt in their diet or infrequently consumed yogurt. The health benefits of yogurt are associated with its nutrient-dense profile containing significant amounts of protein and calcium as well as probiotics that keep your digestive tract healthy. Several epidemiological and clinical studies have suggested a beneficial effect of yogurt consumption in the control of body weight and energy homeostasis, although this remains controversial.  Also, due to yogurt’s probiotic content, research shows that these probiotics effects could modulate glucose metabolism which in turn may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in healthy and older adults.

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Greek Vs. Regular Yogurt 

Greek yogurt has grown in popularity lately and has been termed the healthier version of yogurt due to its lower sugar and higher protein content. Greek yogurt is made by straining the extra whey in regular yogurt leading to a thicker, creamier, and tangier yogurt. The whey is the liquid that can pool at the top of a yogurt container and it is the source of much of yogurt’s calcium. A plus side to regular yogurt is that it contains twice the amount of bone-strengthening calcium compared to Greek yogurt. Check out the comparison chart below!

Nutrient Yogurt, Nonfat Plain, Dannon Greek Yogurt, Nonfat Plain, Chobani
Amount 6 oz 6 oz
Calories 80 80
Protein 9 18
Phosphorous 250 240
Sodium 120 80
Calcium 300 200
Potassium 400 120
Sugar 12 6

*Table Credit: Journal of Renal Nutrition – Journal of Renal Nutrition
Be cautious when choosing which type of yogurt you buy because not all are made the same. Yogurts that come pre-packaged with other additives like fruit, granola, and candy can really change the nutrition profile. Added sugar is frequently added to flavored yogurts and is something to keep your eye out for, lactase is a naturally occurring sugar present in yogurt that you do not need to be weary of though. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends less than 5-15% of your total calories daily coming from saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars. With the new FDA labeling system, nutrition labels will come with added sugar and naturally occurring sugar labeled separately to help customers make healthier choices.For lactose intolerant people (like me!), yogurt is one of very few sources of dairy in our diet. Due to yogurt having less lactase than other dairy sources like milk and cheese + yogurt containing probiotics that aid in digestion of lactase, most people with lactose intolerance can still be able to tolerate yogurt! Side note: Greek yogurt has even less lactase than regular yogurt so if you have tried regular yogurt and still had stomach issues than Greek yogurt might still be an option for you!

Ways to Incorporate Yogurt Into Your Diet: 

  • Yogurt parfaits (layer yogurt, whole-grain cereal and fruit, such as bananas or berries)
  • Yogurt smoothies (blend equal parts fruit and juice with 2 parts yogurt)
  • Yogurt dip (perfect for your favorite fruits — including apple slices, orange sections or fruit kabobs)
  • Yogurt substitutions in your favorite recipes (choosing low-fat yogurt over sour cream in recipes can greatly decrease the total fat content as well as overall calories in the recipe)

Cinthia Scott, RD, LD, CNSC

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