How to Choose A Healthy Yogurt
Yogurt has been a kitchen staple for us for as long as we can remember. Dairy based yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12, and has so many uses in the kitchen beyond just spooning it from a cup (although we love that, too).
Non-dairy yogurt options are also great, like this coconut yogurt that we’ve been making for a few years now. There have been quite a few new non-dairy options in the market recently, which are great choices for people who can’t tolerate or choose not to eat dairy products. Or, when you just want to change things up!
Both dairy and non-dairy yogurt are potential sources of probiotics, which are health benefiting bacteria (more info on probiotics in our Probiotics 101 blog post here).
The thing with yogurt is….there are SO MANY OPTIONS on shelves. Given this, we want to share a few key things we look for in a healthy yogurt as well as some of the yogurts we’re loving right now.
1. First, let’s start with the ingredient list. We like a short list free from additives like artificial flavors (we prefer that the flavor, if there is one, comes from the real food like fruit, vanilla, etc.), artificial and high intensity sweeteners, and carrageenan.
2. The second is the added sugar. This one can definitely vary depending on whether you’re eating the yogurt as more of an occasional meal or snack component or a really regular staple. For a yogurt you’re eating regularly as part of a meal or snack, we suggest a maximum of 10 grams of added sugar per 5-6-ounce serving. Although, we make exceptions for yogurts we’re loving as treats, if we’re not having many other foods with added sugar in them for the day, or if the yogurt is just too delicious to pass by.
3. Finally, look for a yogurt that contains “live active cultures” so you get the benefit of probiotics.
Here are five yogurts we’ve been loving lately in the dairy and non-dairy categories:
Stonyfield Farms Plain Low-fat & Whole Milk Yogurt: We love both of these as a staple plain yogurt. They’re mild and creamy and work well in parfaits, smoothies, as ingredients in salad dressings, as a topping for tacos and burritos, and in baking. Or, to make a deliciously creamy tuna salad like this curried tuna salad!
Maple Hill Creamery Vanilla Greek Yogurt: We’re not typically huge vanilla yogurt fans, as many versions are mainly added sugar and vanilla flavoring and just too sweet without much flavor. But this one caught our taste buds off guard with its creaminess and really natural tasting vanilla flavor (that comes from actual vanilla beans). Also, we love that Maple Hill Creamery yogurts are made with milk from 100% grass-fed cows.
Siggis Lemon Triple Cream: You will love how incredibly creamy and decadent this yogurt tastes. The lemon flavor is so pure, coming only from whole lemons and sugar. This one is pretty amazing as-is but is also perfect topped with nuts or shredded coconut.
Lavva Blueberry & Pineapple Flavors: We are big fans of this newish-to-the-market, plant-based yogurt made from pili (pronounced ‘Peel-ee’) nuts, coconut, and fruit. It’s creamy with a wonderful consistency that we’ve been hard pressed to find in other plant based yogurts. The best part is that there are really simple ingredients and no additional sugar or flavors added — just the fruit. The pineapple tastes like a pina colada in the very best way! We were also big fans of the blueberry, but all of the flavors are just as delicious.
Califia Farms Plain Probiotic Yogurt Drink: We love that Califia Farms is offering a plant based yogurt probiotic drink now. This one is almond-coconut based, has a great flavor, and can be used to make smoothies or to drink straight up! It’s also got 10 billion live active probiotic cultures and uses a really well researched strain of bacteria!