How to Pick the Healthiest Yogurts

Want to find the best yogurts for you without squinting at dozens of tiny labels?

Here’s what to look for in a 5-to-6 oz. container:

Fage

Added sugars

All dairy yogurts have some naturally occurring milk sugar. But the best have no added sugars. The added sugars include healthier-sounding sugars like evaporated cane juice, maple syrup, agave, and honey.

Questionable or unsafe sweeteners

The only low-calorie sweeteners we consider safe are stevia and sugar alcohols like erythritol. Monk fruit (probably safe, but poorly tested), sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium are out.

Calories

160 or less. This one’s a two-fer. It protects your waistline and keeps a lid on added sugars.

Protein

At least 8 grams. That’s what you’d get in an 8 oz. cup of milk, less than what’s in a typical (5-6 oz.) serving of most greek yogurts, but more than what most non-greeks supply.

Saturated fat

2 grams or less. Yogurts made from whole milk may be showing up on store shelves, but you don’t want them showing up in your artery walls.

Calcium

At least 15 percent of the Daily Value. You’ll typical­ly find more calcium in non-greeks. (Tip: an 8 oz. glass of milk has 30 percent of a day’s calcium.)

Here’s what doesn’t matter much:

Vitamin D. Even fortified yogurts typically supply only 20 per­cent of the Daily Value. That’s just 80 IU. The Recommended Dietary Allowance is 600 IU for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU for anyone older.

What about the non-dairy yogurts?

None are great choices, but some come close.

Almond yogurt

Almond Dream may be “made from Real Almonds,” but it’s not made from many. Each 6 oz. cup has just 1 gram of protein—what you’d get in four almonds. The rest is water, sugar, and “stabilizer blend.” The 3 grams of fiber come from tapioca.  In contrast, Kite Hill “artisan almond milk yogurt” (found at Whole Foods) has 5 or 6 grams of protein from almonds (and you can taste them).

Tip: Kite Hill Plain has less sugar (1 teaspoon) than Almond Dream Plain (3½ tea­spoons). And Kite Hill Plain Unsweetened has no added sugar. Too bad Kite Hill doesn’t add any calcium.

Coconut yogurt

So Delicious Greek Style Coconut Milk and non-greek Coconut Milk are low in protein (1 or 2 grams) and high in saturated fat (about 4 grams). Most of the 8 grams of fiber in the “fiber rich” Greek Style comes from chicory root extract. Why bother?   Daiya Greek Yogurt is in the same sat-fat ballpark. At least it pushes the protein up to 8 grams (thanks to added pea protein).

Soy yogurt

Silk soy yogurts have “6 g plant-based protein” and 20 percent of a day’s worth of calcium and vitamin D. With 3 to 4 teaspoons of total sugar, they beat Stonyfield O’Soy (5 to 6 teaspoons).

 

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9 Replies to “How to Pick the Healthiest Yogurts”

  1. Why is it good to choose a yogurt that has 15% Daily Value of calcium, but Vitamin D is not important because yogurt has only up to 20%? That doesn’t make sense.

  2. i’m new to letter, used to receive paper years ago…i’d love to see a top ten list of good ones reccommended to buy, it seems most are garbage

  3. I live in the Princeton area and shop at Whole Earth Store in Princeton. They are the only place I’ve found Nancy’s Cultured Organic Soy Yogurt that has no added sugar. Can’t find soy yogurt without added sugar at Whole Foods nor Trader Joes. I add fruit with high fiber to make it sweet and I add healthy fat to create a complete balanced meal. Jims28

  4. Under the standard of identity established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in order for a refrigerated product to be called “yogurt,” it must be produced by culturing permitted dairy ingredients with a bacterial culture, which contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

    If the definition of “yogurt” includes “it must be produced by culturing permitted dairy ingredients with a bacterial culture” how can there be “non-dairy yogurt?”

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