Yogurt is fast gaining a big fanbase among health food lovers everywhere. Because it’s fermented, yogurt is much easier to digest than other forms of dairy, even for those who are lactose intolerant. But while yogurt is becoming more popular with every passing day, different varieties of yogurt have begun to come out too. Yogurt in itself might be healthy, but not all forms of it that are being sold are. So how do you pick the best yogurt that will benefit your health? Here are a few tips to keep in mind the next time you grab some yogurt.
1. Check The Ingredients List
You might think you’re eating a tub of healthy yogurt, but it could just be eating a ton of sugar and preservatives instead. Always check the label to make sure that the yogurt you’re getting is just the good stuff. Look out for sugar, artificial flavorings and preservatives. Even if the word ‘sugar’ doesn’t appear on the label, ingredients like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar and agave nectar are other names it might be disguised under. Ideally, the label should just mention the amount of live cultures present in it.
2. Don’t Get Flavored Yogurt
Flavored yogurt is really not much healthier than ice cream. It usually contains high amounts of sugar and synthetic flavors. Plain, unsweetened yogurt contains just 10 grams of carbohydrates, but flavored yogurt contains as much as 30 grams. If you don’t like the taste of plain yogurt, you can always add fresh fruit to it yourself. Buy plain, natural yogurt and mix it with pureed fruits and some chia seeds for a healthy, delicious dessert.
3. You Can Choose Between Full-Fat Or Low-Fat
Most health nuts reach for low-fat or zero-fat yogurt, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. While full-fat yogurt does contain more calories and fat than other varieties, this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, many studies have shown that fat in dairy can actually be beneficial for health and weight loss. But if you prefer low-fat yogurt, always read the label first. Many brands compensate for the loss of flavor in low-fat yogurt by adding a lot of sugar instead.
4. Get Probiotic Yogurt
The main reason why yogurt is considered to be so healthy is because it contains healthy probiotics. Probiotics are the bacteria which ferment milk and turn it sour. When you eat them, they balance your gut flora and improve your digestion. All kinds of yogurt, by definition, contain probiotic bacteria. However, the amount and quality of probiotics within them depends upon how much heat the yogurt was exposed to and how it was stored. Look for brands of yogurt which say they have live cultures on the label. Stay away from pasteurized or heat-processed yogurt because they generally have the least amount of probiotics.
5. Natural Vs. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is regular yogurt that has been strained multiple times to remove whey and excess lactose. This results in a thicker, creamier yogurt. Greek yogurt also has a lot more protein than regular yogurt, but also contains more fat. If you’re trying to restrict your calories, then natural yogurt is your best option. However, if you’re looking to up your protein intake, choose Greek yogurt instead.
6. What About Dairy-Free Yogurt?
If you’re vegan or have severe lactose intolerance, there’s a wide range of dairy-free yogurt to choose from instead. Vegan yogurt like soy and coconut yogurt are becoming increasingly popular and taste very similar to the real thing. They undergo a similar fermentation process, so they are naturally packed with probiotics as well. However, vegan yogurt does not have vitamin D or calcium, so make sure the brand you buy has been fortified with these nutrients.