You’d be forgiven for feeling more than a little overwhelmed by the choice of yogurts available in your average supermarket. Well don’t fret – follow our simple guide to help you navigate the yoghurt aisle and be confident you’re choosing the best yoghurt for you.
Why you need help
You’d think that buying yogurt would be quite simple and straightforward right? Sadly no – today there’s just so much choice – Greek yogurt, low fat, yoghurt drinks, added probiotics, frozen yoghurt, homogenised yoghurt, pasteurised yoghurt – the list goes on and on. All this choice isn’t always a good thing and when we’re faced with too much we instinctively we reach for the one we’re most familiar with – usually the most memorable brand or advertising – not the best one for us!
Why does this matter? Well not all yoghurt is as good as it seems – and some yogurts can actually do more harm to our health than good
Before we get into details about how to sort the good yogurt from the bad, let’s talk a little bit about why you want to eat yogurt in the first place.
Why eat Yogurt
Yogurt is a nutrient-rich food that fuels your body with protein, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12, and some key fatty acids (such as omega-3’s) that your body needs to stay healthy – but more importantly yoghurt is a valuable source of probiotic bacteria that can help treat digestive disorders, metabolic diseases (which can result in obesity and diabetes) and improve our immune system.
Made by fermenting milk with a yogurt culture it contains a number of probiotic strains that can include Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophiles, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei and Bifidusenhance – all of which can help the health of our gut microbiome.
It is understood to improve the immune system and the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions, including:
- Lactose intolerance
- Inflammation and bloating
- Constipation & Diarrhea
- Colon cancer
- Irritable bowel disease
- H. pylori infection
Other health benefits
While there is no clinical evidence to link yoghurt directly – there are even more notable health benefits associated with improving the health of our gut microbiome – including weight loss, improved mental health and the treatment of many symptoms associated with asthma and allergies.
Don’t all yogurts offer these benefits?
Yogurt only provide benefits if they contain live probiotic bacteria in sufficient quantities – which should be indicated in the label “contains active, live cultures.” If the yoghurt has been pasteurized or sterilization the beneficial bacteria will be killed off so you will see no benefit at all. Even if a label claims to contains active cultures, different brands may contain strains of bacteria and in different quantities – and different strains may be more helpful for different people.
How to tell which to buy?
Watch out for these clues when selecting yoghurt to be confident you’re choosing the best yoghurt for you
- Plain/ Natural: plain natural yoghurts should contain no sugars, additives and flavouring and so will be the best for you
- Light: Light yoghurts often contain non caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) as a sugar substitute. Be sure to check for any artificial sweeteners on the label
- Fat Free/Low Fat: Low fat or fat free yoghurts often replace fat with sugar
- Organic: as mentioned above, to be certified organic yoghurts should be cultured from higher quality milk.
- Greek: Greek yogurt typically contains higher quantities of milk proteins and usually will be free from added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Live active cultures Always look for the yogurt to say that it contains live and active cultures – as these probiotic bacteria typically rich in Lactobacilli family support our gut health.
- Ingredients: If you can’t pronounce it, I don’t buy it.
The label should be short and simple – however many yoghurt products contain a long list of thickeners, preservatives, stabilisers and flavourings and additives. If you can’t pronounce any of the ingredients – then you probably shouldn’t buy it.