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Is Yogurt Good For You?

March 30, 2018

How many times have you had yogurt for breakfast this week? A lot? Well…same.

Yogurt is, after all, considered to be super healthy. (Have you seen how many varieties they stock at Whole Foods?!)

But is yogurt really good for you, given how much sugar it has?

Yogurt nutrition
First things first: the nutritional breakdown of one eight-ounce serving of plain, low-fat yogurt:

Calories: 143
Fat: 3.5 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Protein: 12 g
Carbohydrates: 16 g
Sugar: 16 g
Fiber: 0 g

BTW: That serving also offers 40 percent of your daily calcium needs (yay, bone health). You’ll also get 12 grams of protein along with 11 percent of your daily potassium requirements.

Come on, though, 16 grams of sugar looks pretty high, right?

Not really: All yogurt naturally has some sugar. And Karen Ansel, R.D., says that it’s balanced out by all the protein, calcium, and potassium that’s packed in there too.

However, flavored yogurts are not your friend. Those often contain added sugars and sweeteners that will take the carb and sugar counts way up.

Yogurt benefits
To be clear, you can get way more from a cup of yogurt than just calcium and protein. It also contains “good bacteria” that support your gut and immune system. “[Probiotics] have been credited with everything from improving digestion, to boosting immune health, to protecting against depression,” says Ansel.

It gets better: A 2012 study of over 120,000 people who weren’t obese and didn’t suffer from chronic disease found that regularly eating yogurt might protect against weight gain, possibly due to changes in gut bacteria. Woot!

Plus, some studies have suggested that four weeks of regularly eating probiotic yogurt is good for your brain, while another large study credited the healthy bacteria in yogurt for lowering risk of heart attack and stroke among people who ate just two servings a week. Not bad, not bad at all.

Greek yogurt nutrition
People are obsessed with Greek yogurt, but it’s actually pretty similar nutritionally to the regular stuff. See for yourself what you’ll get in an eight-ounce serving of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt:

Calories: 166
Fat: 4 g
Saturated fat: 3 g
Protein: 23 g
Carbohydrates: 9 g
Sugar: 8 g
Fiber: 0 g

One caveat: Ansel says Greek yogurt does have more protein than regular yogurt (at 20 vs. 13 grams).

It’s also lower in carbs and sugars, so it could be a better option for you if you’re looking to stick with a low-carb routine.

Keep in mind that processing (specifically straining, which gives Greek yogurt its unique, thick texture) removes roughly half of the calcium from Greek yogurt, per the Harvard School of Public Health. Many brands add a calcium supplement back in, so check the label to be sure.

Otherwise both types have all of the other same health benefits, so she suggests choosing whichever you enjoy eating most.

What’s better: low-fat, non-fat, or full-fat yogurt?
“Full-fat yogurt is getting a lot of love lately—perhaps too much,” says Ansel. She says it’s best to stick to reduced-fat options due to yogurt’s high saturated fat content, which the USDA still recommends limiting.

“A little saturated fat, such as the amount you might get in a 2 percent yogurt, is fine, but leading health experts still advise against going crazy on saturated fat, even if it’s from dairy,” Ansel says. Non-fat options, meanwhile, often come with lots of extra sugar to mimic flavor. So yeah, stick with the happy medium: low-fat.

So…is yogurt good for you?
Bottom line: yes.

“Considering it’s packed with probiotics, calcium, potassium, and protein, yogurt is one of the healthiest foods you can eat,” says Ansel. “For the best nutrition, choose unsweetened, plain low-fat,” she says.

She suggests a daily serving, if possible, since the beneficial probiotics in yogurt don’t live in our systems for very long.

So eating yogurt for breakfast every day isn’t that crazy after all.

View the original article in Women’s Magazine here.