Yogurt is one of my favourite snack options. It’s a great source of carbohydrates for energy and protein that keeps you feeling full and aids in muscles recovery. Yogurt is also a great source of many micronutrients such as calcium and potassium. For those who are lactose intolerant, in many cases, yogurt can still be tolerated since it has lower lactose levels than other dairy products. However, let’s be honest, the yogurt aisle can be confusing. There is certainly no lack of options available, but not all are created equal. So what do you look for when buying yogurt?
The % Milk Fat (MF):
When selecting a yogurt, check the label to determine the % milk fat (MF). There are a variety of ranges from 0-6% MF. For most people, selecting a 0-1% MF yogurt is the best choice as they are lower in fat. The type of fat found in milk is a saturated fat, and consuming too much of this could raise cholesterol levels. For those who are watching their waistline, selecting a lower fat yogurt also decreases the number of calories while providing the same volume of yogurt. For instance, 1 cup of Astro 6% yogurt provides 200 calories versus 120 calories in 1 cup of Astro 0% yogurt. However, for some people, selecting a higher %MF yogurt is appropriate, such as those looking to gain weight, females with amenorrhea or young children.
The Sugar Content:
Another important thing to compare when selecting a yogurt is the amount of sugar. Plain yogurts do not have added sugar. However, if you look on the nutrition facts label, you will still see some sugar. This is a naturally occurring sugar called lactose, which is different than added sugar. For instance, 1 cup of Astro original yogurt contains 5 grams of sugar versus 17 grams in Astro vanilla yogurt. If you look at the ingredients list you will see that the vanilla yogurt has “sugar” on its ingredients list while the plain yogurt does not. Sorry, but the “fruit” flavoured yogurts aren’t any better as these fruit blends really are just sugar.
For those who hate the taste of plain yogurt, you may consider selecting a yogurt that is artificially sweetened rather than sweetened with added sugar. However, I do realize that not everyone is open to consuming artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda are not absorbed by the body. Because of this, they don’t increase blood sugars or provide calories. An example of an artificially sweetened yogurt is Source 0% by Yoplait, which is sweetened by sucralose.
Greek versus Original:
In terms of selecting Greek versus original yogurt, the best choice depends on your goals. Greek yogurt is higher in protein and provides less carbohydrates than regular yogurt. For those looking to increase their protein intake, then a Greek yogurt would be a more appropriate option. However, for some people such as an athlete fuelling up for a game or practice, selecting the regular yogurt so that more carbohydrates are provided is a good strategy. Greek yogurt does provide slightly more calories, about 30 calories per 1 cup, than plain yogurt since it’s denser.
Yogurt is a nutritious snack, if you choose the right one. Try mixing plain low-fat yogurt with berries as an afternoon snack. Don’t let the yogurt aisle confuse you. Use the 4 quick tips above for easy navigation.