Yogurt is one of the healthiest and most commonly used part of our meals. It contains important nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, fats, proteins, and probiotics. When choosing the healthiest type of yogurt, you should first consider your body’s requirements.
- Are you looking for the type of yogurt that helps you lose weight, or
- Do you want to strengthen your bones, or
- You want to improve your gut health and looking for yogurt full of probiotics.
There are minor differences in the caloric content and micronutrient contents of different types of yogurt. To select the healthiest type of yogurt, you should always read the labels. Some tips are given here.
Yogurt is a fermented dairy product. The word yogurt is derived from a Turkish word that means “thickened milk,” which is exactly done with milk to prepare yogurt.
Yogurt is prepared from different types of milk. The one made from whole milk is called plain or full-fat yogurt and skim milk is used to prepare low-fat or non-fat versions.
Plain yogurt is unsweetened and is very beneficial for health. Just as milk, yogurt is a good source of calcium and protein. It also contains vitamin-D, Vit-B2, and Vit-B12 along with zinc and iodine.
It’s an old debate: full-fat or low-fat? They both have a big list of advantages; thus, none is superior.
What is the difference between plain full-fat yogurt and low-fat yogurt?
The main difference between plain yogurt and low-fat yogurt is the milk used in the manufacturing process.
Whole milk is used in the full-fat form, whereas skim milk is used in the non-fat or fat-free version.
Their fat level differentiates them nutritionally, and while neither nonfat nor full-fat Greek yogurt is unhealthy for you, there are times when one is a better option.
If you’re calorie conscious, you might naturally believe that nonfat yogurt is the healthier option. However, the calorie difference is negligible.
Plain nonfat yogurt has 95 calories per 6-ounce container, while plain full-fat yogurt has 105 calories per 6-ounce container.
If flavor and mouthfeel are essential to you, the extra 10 calories may be worth it, especially if it allows you to consume more calcium and beneficial bacteria.
Plain nonfat yogurt has no fat, but full-fat yogurt has 6 grams of total fat and 4 grams of saturated fat per 6-ounce serving.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting saturated fat intake to 6% of total calories, on a 2,000-calorie diet, for better heart health.
Taste and texture:
If you prefer a thick, creamy yogurt then full-fat yogurt is likely to be your preference. It’s thicker in texture and wonderfully creamy, and it keeps you feeling fuller for longer since it holds more fat and protein. It’s naturally sweet, so it’s delicious on its own.
Low-fat yogurt is just as versatile as full-fat yogurt, but it’s lighter, so many people find they can eat more of it and get more creative with ‘extras.’
Yogurt is delicious in dips, sauces, and even desserts, so don’t limit yourself to breakfast bowls and snacks. Ask yourself if you’re hungry, then go from there.
Which type of yogurt is better?
In the case of yogurt, the question may simply come down to controlling the overall fat intake.
The fact that dairy products include saturated fat, rather than healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts, and fish. That’s why some studies recommend you shouldn’t eat full-fat dairy in abundant amounts.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a cup of full-fat yogurt from time to time. Moderation and portion control is always the key!
You can have full-fat yogurt and go fat-free for other dairy products. This way you can add balance to your daily diet.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2020-2025) recommends eating non-fat or fat-free yogurt. [Ref]
But unfortunately, some low-fat yogurt brands add extra sugar for flavor which makes the low-fat yogurt even greater in calories than the plain yogurt. So, while buying yogurt you need to carefully read the food label.
What should we look for on yogurt food labels?
Full-fat or low-fat?
- Overall, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate recommend that you pick low-fat or fat-free yogurt. Saturated fat intake must be less than 10% of the total calories.
Flavored, or unflavored?
- In fruited and flavored yogurts, added sugar is a typical ingredient. By choosing plain yogurt and adding your fruit or tastes like cinnamon and vanilla, you may avoid the added sugars.
- Even though no extra sugar is added, the nutrition label on plain yogurt still lists sugar. This is because lactose, a naturally occurring sugar in milk, is present in even plain yogurt.
Traditional Yogurt or Greek Yogurt?
- The Greek yogurt has been strained. Traditional yogurt is thicker, creamier, and smoother as a result of this technique. It contains a greater amount of protein.
Watch the sugar:
- Full-fat and non-fat milk have the same amount of naturally occurring sugar (lactose) when compared side by side: 12 grams per cup.
- As a result, it’s reasonable to expect 12 to 15 grams of sugar in a 6-ounce serving of plain yogurt.
- Low-fat and non-fat yogurts frequently contain low-calorie sweeteners, resulting in sugar content of 12 to 14 grams per 6-ounce serving.
- When it comes to probiotic yogurts, it’s always best to buy a fresh product over one that’s nearing expiration, because probiotics die during storage.
If you are managing calories but like the richness of full-fat yogurt, you can enjoy it by being mindful of portion control.
If you enjoy the feel of full-fat yogurt but are concerned about saturated fat, go for fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
Both types are equally beneficial but you need to choose the one that best suits you and your overall health.
Low-fat yogurt is a better option for heart patients as it does not contain saturated fat. It is also good for weight loss if you avoid the sweetened ones.
Full-fat yogurt is a good option for those who have osteoporosis as it contains greater calcium and it’s also good for diabetics because it does not contain any added sugar.
When it comes to picking a nutritious yogurt, less is more.
The plain, unsweetened types are the best because they have the fewest ingredients and no added sugar.
It’s entirely up to you whether you want low-fat or full-fat yogurt. Although full-fat variations have more calories, this does not imply that they are bad.
To get your daily dose of health-promoting probiotics, search for yogurts that include live and active cultures.