Inside the Food Label: YOGURT
Take a stroll down the yogurt aisle these days and you can get pretty overwhelmed, pretty darn fast. There are so many yogurts to choose from! Which one is best and why? Is yogurt even worth the effort? Well, if chosen wisely, it can be a great source of nutrients. For one, yogurt is made with immune-fighting bacteria (live, active cultures and probiotics) which can help with digestion and intestinal health (think bloating, gas). Of course, yogurt is also a great source of protein, calcium, B12, magnesium and potassium.
So, how to pick the best yogurt? I like rules. Rules make things easy. Here are a few to remember about yogurt:
1 – Think Quality. If you’re reading the yogurt’s ingredient list and you can’t tell what flavor it is, that’s a problem. Look at the two examples below. One for the ever-so-popular Yoplait Light yogurt and the other for Chobani fat free Greek yogurt. Can you guess the flavor of each of these?
YOPLAIT INGREDIENTS: Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Modified Corn Starch, Kosher Gelatin, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Aspartame, Potassium Sorbate Added to Maintain Freshness, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3.
CHOBANI INGREDIENTS: Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk, Sugar, Peaches, Natural Flavor. Contains Five Live Active Cultures Including S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei.
Did you figure it out? Well, the Yoplait flavor is Boston Cream Pie and the Chobani is Peach. Pretty crazy, huh?
2 – Limit Added Sugar. By nature, fruited yogurt is going to contain sugar. If it didn’t, it would be plain yogurt and that’s a completely different story (plain is great, but most of us need to add a little something to it). But how much and what kind? Try to limit as much added sugar as possible in the form high fructose corn syrup (especially if it’s the first ingredient!) and sugar by any other name (milled sugar, fructose, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, etc.). You might also beware of brands that report lower levels of sugar on the label and use artificial sweeteners instead (aspartame, sucrulose, acefulsame K, etc.). These would include most Yoplait Light and Dannon Light ‘n’ Fit varieties.
3 – Go for Protein. This is where it gets interesting. If you’re comparing and find all things similar, then rule out one for the other based on protein. Greek yogurt wins out most of the time in this category because it contains twice the protein than traditional yogurts. Chobani (my fav) may have a bit more added sugar, but it has no artificial sweeteners or additives and it has 14 grams of protein – that’s 2 ounces! This amount of protein provides staying power and will leave you feeling full and satisfied for several hours.
In summary, look for the highest quality ingredients, the least amount of added “extras” and the most protein you can find.
My favorites are listed below. What are yours?
Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt
Fage 2% Cherry Greek Yogurt
Brown Cow Low Fat Black Cherry
Oikos Strawberry Greek Yogurt
Oikos Strawberry Greek Yogurt