My Mom sent me an email the other day saying, “I have a great idea for a blog post. Yogurt.”
Have you ever looked a yogurt label? I mean really looked at it?
Before I became a Health & Fitness Coach, I’d typically grab a fat free yogurt (Light n’ Fit was my go-to), thinking this was “healthy” as my lunch. And heck, it was only 70 calories! Honestly, if there was a nonfat option of anything, that’s what I’d buy. I thought nonfat was better for you, and I know I’m not the only one to have ever thought that—many people probably think the same! (If that’s you, keep reading!)
Scroll to the bottom to see my top yogurt recommendations!
My First Meeting With a Nutritionist
Then I was diagnosed with infertility. I found out I would require infertility treatment (specifically in vitro fertilization) for any children that we would want in the future. And I wanted to be as healthy as possible before starting treatments, so I met with a nutritionist. I told her how I would eat fat-free yogurts, sugar-free white chocolate powder in my Americano, a Diet Coke nearly every day, and ate a relatively low-fat diet.
The first thing my nutritionist said to me was, “You have got to stop all artificial sweeteners.” So, I did. You’d think being a Nurse Practitioner, I would have known better.
The nurse and science driven side of me began researching artificial sweeteners and quickly realized why you want to avoid them. Here’s one article I read on the use of artificial sweeteners, it’s fascinating (and alarming).
She also opened my eyes to the world of healthy fats and how great and necessary they are for us.
Looking at Labels
It wasn’t until I started the 21 Day Fix, started “clean” eating and became a Beachbody Coach that I truly paid attention to nutrition labels and what I was putting in my body. Coincidentally, this all started when my daughter, Brooklyn, our first child was just 6 weeks old. (IVF success!)
This is also when I finally understood how important fats are. We need good fats in our diet!
The Benefits of Healthy Fats
- Help our bodies function optimally
- Improve our metabolism
- Provide us with more energy
- Help absorb vitamins
- Keep skin and hair healthy
Not only that, but good fats help keep you fuller for longer! Along with so much more.
The fats we consume provide our bodies with essential fatty acids called linoleic and linolenic acid. These are essential because our bodies depend upon them and they can only be found in plant foods (omega 3s, omega 6s, etc.). These types of fatty acids can help with brain development, blood clotting & help to control inflammation.
Further, certain types of fatty acids can reduce heart disease and stroke, relieve discomfort caused by ulcerative colitis, menstruation, and joint pain. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been associated with a decreased risk of breast cancer. (Source)
Foods that are “fat-free,” tend to contain artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and a bunch of other ingredients that I can’t pronounce and have no clue what they are. Typically, fat-free = more “junk” ingredients. Next time you’re grocery shopping compare the ingredient list of a fat-free food to i’s full fat alternative. I bet you’ll be surprised!
Back to Yogurt...
What to look for in yogurt:
- Plain yogurt
- Whole milk
- High protein
- Low sugar
Yogurt ingredients to avoid:
Greek yogurt can be an excellent source for protein, calcium, zinc, potassium, & some B vitamins.
When I was at the grocery store, I grabbed a few of the most common brands of yogurt to show you how variable one yogurt is from the next. And then I thought about something: how much sugar is there in my daughter’s Gogurts? Yikes. We typically do Stonybrook organic yogurt for Brooklyn, but those dang Gogurts are so convenient, right? And she loves the princesses on them. But here’s what I found out…
8g sugar | 2g protein
And it contains carrageenan.
Nooooooooo! Something I avoid in my own food, I found in my daughter’s food? Mom fail!
Strawberry Stonyfield YoKids Organic
6g sugar | 2g protein
Plus, no carrageenan, hooray!
So, while I’m not so sure I can get my daughter to eat plain yogurt, I can assure you we will be sticking with Stonyfield YoKids for now.
Let’s take a look at a few yogurts. It’s a bit discouraging that whole milk Greek yogurt is actually often hard to find, which is why I have pictured so many fat free yogurts.
I strongly encourage you to grab the whole milk or at least 2% from the shelf!
Unhealthy Yogurts (that seem healthy)
Tillamook Farmstyle Greek 2% (Strawberry)
5.3oz: Total Fat 2g | Sugars 12g | Protein 14g
Oikos Strawberry 0%
5.3oz: Total Fat 0g | Sugars 14g | Protein 12g
Contains added cane sugar.
Chobani Greek Yogurt 0% (Strawberry)
5.3oz: Total Fat 0 g | Sugars 15g | Protein 12g
Carbmaster - Kroger Brand (Strawberry)
6oz: Total Fat 1.5g | Sugars 2g | Protein 9g
Contains milk protein concentrate, milk protein isolate, sucralose. Avoid.
Greek Gods Greek Yogurt (Honey Strawberry)
6oz: Total Fat 10g | Sugars 27g | Protein 6g
The Two Best (Healthiest) Yogurts I’ve Found
Stonyfield Organic Greek Yogurt (Plain, Whole Milk)
5.3oz: Total Fat 3.5g | Sugars 5g | Protein 14g
Contains just live active cultures & organic, non-GMO pasture-raised milk.
Fage 2% Greek Yogurt (Plain)
7oz: Total Fat 4g | Sugars 8g | Protein 20g
Be cautious of the flavored Fage yogurts as some contain as much as 29g of sugar (one example is honey).
Dairy Free & Cow's Milk Alternative Yogurts
As many of you have read, I am intolerant to dairy. So, I was looking for a cow’s milk alternative. Below are a few I found.
Bellwether Farms Sheep Milk Yogurt (Plain)
6oz: 9g fat | 2g sugar | 10g protein
Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt (Plain)
6oz: 4.5g fat | 7g sugar | 7g protein
Forager Cashewgurt (Unsweetened Plain)
6oz, 11g fat, 2g sugar, 5g protein
Silk Almond Dairy-free Yogurt (Plain)
5.3oz: 13g fat | 6g sugar | 6g protein
Contains added cane sugar.
So-delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative (Unsweetened Plain)
8oz: 7g fat | <1g sugar | <1g protein
Contains added ingredients I would prefer to avoid.
Yami 1.5% (Lactose Free) Strawberry
6oz: 2.5g fat | 21g sugar | 7g protein
My choice? Bellwether Farms Sheep Milk Yogurt! The highest protein, and least amount of sugar!
While I haven’t ventured there (yet), there is always the option to make your own yogurt. Have you ever made yogurt? Let me know how your experience went in the comments—might be my next project!
And if you want to make something delicious (and also healthy) with your yogurt, try adding a scoop of greek yogurt to these overnight oat recipes for an extra creamy, extra tasty breakfast.