How To Navigate The Yogurt Aisle
by Victoria Le Maire, RD, LD
Last Updated: January 29, 2021
Dairy has been a staple in many cultures for hundreds of years, and now thanks to modern technology, we have a plethora of choices! If you’ve been down the yogurt aisle recently, you may have noticed that you could spend quite some time finding the best option for you. With so many choices, we’re here to help you understand why yogurt is a great food to incorporate into your diet and how to navigate options that best suit your needs.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, 90% of the U.S. population doesn’t meet the current dairy intake recommendations of two servings daily. Many individuals would benefit from increasing their dairy intake in fat-free or low fat-forms, whether from milk (including lactose-free), cheese, fortified soy beverages, and yogurt or soy yogurt. Yogurt offers many nutrients that are important to the human diet, and as a bonus, it’s a convenient and filling food to have on-hand. Yogurts can be high in protein, calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins. Additionally, yogurt is a fermented food, which means it offers probiotics, a live microorganism intended to provide health benefits.
An important note to take is that yogurts may vary in overall nutrient content, flavor, and type of milk from which it’s derived (cow, goat, plant-based sources). Here are some key varieties to know when strolling down the aisle:
- Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is thick and creamy, which lends itself as an ideal replacement to recipes that call for sour cream. This type of yogurt is made by further straining regular yogurt to remove liquid whey. This yields a yogurt that is higher in protein content. The extra straining in Greek yogurt may lead to lower calcium content, so it’s important to check the label to see if it’s been fortified. Try Greek yogurt for a protein-packed snack!
- Plant-based or non-dairy yogurt: This type of yogurt is an alternative to dairy yogurt for those following a plant-based diet, lactose intolerant, or just looking for a change! These yogurts may be made from soy, rice, nuts, coconuts, and other plant foods. Aim to find a plant-based yogurt that is fortified with calcium, as they are not all fortified the same. We recommend soy yogurt varieties as they are fortified with calcium, vitamin A, and vitamin D as they are similar to milk and yogurt-based on their nutrient composition.
- Kefir: This is a tangy, tart, yogurt-like drink containing gut-friendly probiotics. Kefir is made by adding kefir culture (a grain) to milk from a cow, sheep, or goat and then letting the mixture ferment for 4 hours. One 8oz cup of low-fat kefir offers a dense 11 grams of protein and just two grams of fat. Check this out for your next on-the-go breakfast!
- Traditional yogurt: This is a smooth and creamy yogurt that is typically unstrained and made from whole, low-fat or non-fat milk. When comparing to other yogurts, like Greek yogurt, you’ll notice it’s lower in protein than its counterpart because it’s unstrained.
The beauty of yogurt is that it can be eaten as a snack, in a meal, or part of a dessert—it’s all about how you dress it up.
- Add fresh, dried, or canned fruit for a boost of fiber
- Try adding cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger for a sweeter dish
- Top with ¼ cup of low sodium almonds or walnuts for a crunchy topper
- Include Greek yogurt to make a tzatziki sauce for a savory dish
- Substitute mayonnaise for Greek yogurt in tuna salad
As you get ready to venture to the grocery store, use these helpful tips to help ease your way down the yogurt aisle. Work with a registered dietitian if you have specific questions or nutritional needs to make sure you’re getting the best product to suit your needs. You can make an appointment here. We look forward to seeing you!
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.