A quick glance at the nutrition label is all it takes to notice yogurt’s redeeming qualities. In addition to a respectable amount of protein, it offers calcium, phosphorous, and even some vitamin B12 and riboflavin, which help harness and utilize energy from carbohydrates.But fruity versions can often contain significantly more calories and almost as much sugar as a candy bar(and nope, a Snickers is not a balanced meal!).
The Pros of Probiotics — The Need-to-Know
Yogurt’s definitely not all bad. One 8 ounce serving can hold as much as half the recommended daily dose of calcium, which is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, normal nerve function, and even heartbeat (and for that, it wins our hearts). Yogurt also has a healthy dose of electrolytes and probiotics, a type of “good” bacteria that aids digestion and may help protect against unhealthy bacteria
While pure, unadulterated yogurt (think plain, low-fat yogurt) can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet, sugary fruit-flavored concoctions aren’t nearly as guilt-free. Because yogurt has naturally occurring sugar, like lactose from milk, even fruit-free versions may seem to have a lot of sugar based on the nutrition facts. The real issue is when sugar is added on top of what naturally occurs in yogurt, racking up the calorie and carb count far beyond normal.
Ditch the Added Sugar — Your Action Plan
Checking the nutrition label gets extra tricky when it comes to yogurt because natural and added sugars are listed together. To judge whether a yogurt has added sugars, scan the label for ingredients like corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, maltose, or nearly any other “syrup” or “sugar.” Fat-free or low-fat yogurt (sometimes called “skim” or “part-skim”) is also often a better option than full-fat varieties to cut down on calories, while yogurt higher in protein, like Greek yogurt, can up the full factor
However, there are still certain groups that should avoid yogurt. Obviously, it’s not a good idea for those who are lactose intolerant to get in on the yogurt love, no matter how healthy it may be. Soy versions may be a good alternative source of calcium, though these varieties are often still packed with sugar. For the rest of us, though, plain ol’ yogurt will do— just eat responsibly.
Photo by Collin Orcutt