Is Eating Yogurt Really Healthy? The Best Nutrition Secrets
Is there really any thing to yogurt nutrition secrets?
Grabbing a snack on the go?
At some point...
...you’re reaching for a yogurt. I myself enjoy it at my desk when deadlines are looming.
Why do we love yogurt so much?
The reason is simple:
Individual tubs are super convenient, and there are a variety of flavors available.
You can find an assortment of textures, fat percentages, and toppings in any grocery store cold case.
Other cultures have been eating more yogurt for a longer period of time.
Want to know the best part?
The United States is working hard to catch up.
We bought 7.7 billion dollars’ worth of the stuff in 2015 - up more than a billion from 2010.
At this stage, where production and purchasing rise exponentially, it’s normal to wonder...
...“Is it really that good?”
As usual, the answer isn’t so simple.
So, today, we’re talking all about yogurt nutrition secrets.
Is this smooth, creamy snack really as healthy as advertising suggests?
Why Yogurt Isn’t Healthy
How many kinds of yogurt do you remember choosing from as a kid?
If you were born in the early 1980s or before, there were maybe two brands.
From there, your choices were basically “blended” or “fruit on the bottom”.
Today, even in the far reaches of rural America, you can find four to six brands (more in cities/suburbs).
Each brand can offer a whole range of different yogurts, from flavored, to fat-free, dessert-themed, kid-friendly packaging, you name it.
Here’s the deal:
It’s a jim-dandy, too.
It’s clear that major food producers caught onto the fact that yogurt can really sell.
This cultured, fermented milk is a blank white slate ripe for advertising.
And almost invariably, the picture we’re given of yogurt is one of health.
But not just anyone’s health - women’s health.
Yogurt is a product that is assigned to women who want to indulge without, we presume, ruining our diet.
So just like that...
...in the 1990s, our perception of yogurt underwent a shift.
It went from a health food store staple to a busy mom’s “healthy” dessert.
Flavors like cheesecake and pie.
Packaging with feminine colors.
The messaging was clear. If you want something sweet, you should never eat cake.
Instead, have some cake-flavored yogurt. It’s healthier, so don’t worry.
Here’s the problem:
If, like me, you ever happened to eat this yogurt during the advertisement-perception switch, you noticed something else.
Yogurt now tasted fundamentally different. Thinner consistency, sometimes gritty, and often with a strange aftertaste.
...the strange aftertaste - a sure sign of artificial sweeteners.
There had to be a catch.
And that catch is:
The problem with a lot of yogurt isn’t always artificial - they can pour in tons of actual sugar, too.
In fact, plenty of the most popular brands of yogurt pack in more sugar than a snack cake.
As we know...
...sugar causes weight gain, diabetes, and more.
In the end, we may as well have eaten that cake.
Of course, the sugary secrets couldn’t stay below the fold for too long.
Miraculously, once the secrets were out, change was on the horizon for yogurt yet again.
The reason is simple:
Overall, consumer interest in healthy eating has skyrocketed, and we’re checking labels.
A commercial appealing to our desire for a treat will no longer suffice.
We want to know about artificial flavors and colors, where the milk came from, and how much sugar is included.
Most of all, we will pay more for healthy nutrition.
You can bet that got food manufacturers on board.
This refocus on better nutrition coincides with a change in what style of yogurt we buy.
Along Came the Greek
In recent years, a new kind of yogurt has taken over: Greek.
Greek yogurt is strained to remove more moisture, and is therefore thicker.
It’s a quality that many consumers quickly discover they prefer. On top of that, this thicker yogurt can be enjoyed in many ways.
As shown in this short video.
Naturally, the leading yogurt brands rush in with their own Greek-style offerings, but in some ways, the damage is done.
New juggernauts like Chobani, Stonyfield, and Fage are offering customers something they weren’t getting beforehand.
And it isn’t all about consistency.
So what is it?
Large, multi-serving containers of plain Greek yogurt.
No extra sugar (it naturally contains some), no artificial colors - just yogurt.
People can enjoy it precisely how they wish to.
In the end, like so many other foods, it isn’t that yogurt itself is unhealthy. It’s simply that companies add lots of unhealthy ingredients to it.
However, yogurt aficionados of today are going plainer and dressing it up in ways that don’t destroy the health benefits.
Aside from additives, Greek yogurt differs from the pie-flavored soup of yesteryear in some key ways.
With many people opting for Greek, it’s helpful to be aware of some of the main nutritional differences.
First, everyone should know that there’s no rule against companies making their yogurt thicker and slapping ‘Greek’ on the label.
The only Greek yogurt you should ever buy will contain two things: milk and live active cultures.
Phony Greek yogurts will use ingredients like cornstarch and whey concentrates.
If you manage to stick to plain, authentic Greek yogurt, here’s what you’ll get:
1. More Protein
Greek yogurt often comes with the claim that it’s higher in protein, and this is true.
For that reason alone, it’s a great pre and post-workout snack.
All told, protein helps us rebuild and heal everything - muscles skin, hair, bones, blood - every cell.
2. Fewer Carbs
Because Greek yogurt goes through a more thorough straining process, more whey is removed.
Incidentally, this also eliminates more lactose, making it lower in milk sugar than regular yogurt.
Whey is a workout supplement of choice because it’s ideal for muscle building.
It’s great source of amino acids, but it also packs in carbs. Less whey in Greek yogurt means fewer carbs.
3. Less Sodium
Did you know that Greek yogurt can contain less than half the sodium of regular yogurt?
Scaling back on sodium can reduce your chances of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
4. More Fat
Hey, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Eating fat has many benefits, from giving us energy to improving brain health.
Still, Greek yogurt contains much more saturated fat than the traditional stuff.
Therefore, you may want to limit the amount you eat in a sitting.
Or, try a lower fat variety - they’re still thick and creamy.
No witchcraft here...
...it’s simply made with skim milk rather than whole.
Why Yogurt IS Healthy
Ultimately, if you eat dairy, yogurt is very healthy. You simply have to choose a plain, non-GMO variety.
Keep out the extra sugar and thickeners, and yogurt can be a tasty part of meeting your wellness goals.
Here are six reasons why.
1. It Gives You a Flatter Stomach
Many of us turn to yogurt because we know it’s a good source of probiotics.
And indeed, probiotics are the chief health benefit.
In fact, the benefits of probiotics and gut health can’t be covered in a single talk about yogurt - it wouldn’t do it justice.
There’s a popular brand of yogurt out there that promises to aid in digestion and reduce bloating.
The thing is, those claims are essentially true. Yogurt can reduce bloating and give you a flatter tummy.
You can read more on how to quickly get a flatter tummy here.
However, you don’t need a special brand who markets this specifically as a cure, especially since they add sugar.
Instead, eat plain yogurt with a few of your favorite healthy toppings.
The live active cultures will reduce bloating and gas, regardless of packaging.
If this is of particular concern to you, there are a few things you can look out for on the label.
First, confirm that the yogurt contains live active cultures.
From there, look for names of these cultures.
The bacterial strains Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria have been shown to be beneficial here.
2. You’ll Be Less Likely to Overeat
One of the biggest reasons adequate protein matters is that it protects you from cravings and the urge to binge.
Here is where the higher protein content in Greek yogurt can help.
This study shows that eating Greek yogurt as an afternoon snack can help you correct any excessive eating habits.
Overall, “an afternoon snack of Greek yogurt, containing 24 g protein, led to reduced hunger, [and] increased fullness.”
3. Your Immune System Will Be Stronger
The bacteria in yogurt truly are the gift that keeps on giving.
Put simply, better gut health can reduce the number of colds and flus you suffer.
Further study may be necessary, but some studies are already seeking to prove this.
In the end, yogurt’s efficacy in preventing illness may come down to what kind of bacterial strains are present.
4. Not Bad for the Bones
Honestly, Greek yogurt may be lower in calcium due to the lower whey content. Therefore, the regular kind may be better for calcium.
Furthermore, there’s conflicting evidence concerning whether or not any dairy is truly the best source of calcium.
Still, a moderate amount of yogurt can be beneficial to bones.
That’s because in addition to calcium and vitamin D, yogurt is a good source of vitamins and minerals that help.
It’s the combination of nutrients, which we’ll explore next, that raises its potential to resist osteoporosis.
Plus, it’s thought that yogurt can help preserve some very important bones in particular - your teeth.
5. It’s Good Nutrition
“Bad” foods are empty foods.
They don’t give us energy from protein or support healthy cell turnover with antioxidants.
They don’t have fiber, water, or minerals. Inarguably, yogurt does provide key nutrients.
For example, one cup of yogurt can provide up to half of your daily calcium needs.
It can give just as much iodine, which is excellent for your thyroid.
6. It’s Very Versatile
Personally, I find that yogurt goes great with any other superfoods I have in the pantry.
Goji berries, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, you name it.
Simply sprinkle it on a cup of plain yogurt, and enjoy a supercharged snack.
But aside from that, you can use Greek yogurt as a replacement for sour cream.
It even works as a better-than-butter fat source in baked goods.
It’s great for probiotic face masks, and can soothe rosacea and psoriasis.
...no food is perfect for everyone.
For example, those who are lactose intolerant can’t benefit from yogurt in any way.
Others who are mindful about their intake of exogenous hormones may choose to avoid yogurt as well.
For some, eating dairy can cause acne and other symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
And obviously, vegans and some vegetarians will abstain from yogurt.
However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the texture and probiotic content.
There are some pretty impressive dairy-free yogurts now hitting the market, and it’s not all about soy.
Coconut milk yogurt is made from full-fat coconut milk, as is perhaps as close to dairy as one can get.
All you need is a can of full-fat coconut milk, some probiotic capsules - click for price, a cheesecloth, and a jar.
Using probiotic capsules to fortify yogurt isn’t as much of a shortcut as you may suspect.
Given that the yogurt we buy in stores has often undergone pasteurization (heat kills bacteria), companies do the same thing.
In a similar vein is cashew yogurt. Granted, you won’t get the same vitamins and minerals as you would from dairy yogurt.
Still, cashews and coconuts have some great nutritional benefits of their own.
In the end, the only thing that matters is the nutritional profile.
As long as you’re avoiding artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup, any kind of yogurt can be good for you.
My final word about...
Yogurt Nutrition Secrets
Well, we’ve come a long way from yogurt’s heyday as a thin, soupy concoction with tons of additives.
In the States, we’re beginning to appreciate yogurt more for what it is, naturally.
Before, it was just another dairy product that could be flavored until it tastes like something else.
All told, I believe we love it because we’ve finally been able to see how healthy it can be.
Plain yogurt, Greek or regular style, can help:
Yogurt is for sure a satisfying snack whose biggest secrets include probiotic bacteria and protein, especially with Greek.
That’s all I got today.
Now, I’d love to hear from you on this topic.
What kind of yogurt toppings do you like best?
Do you avoid dairy, and why?
Please share your thoughts below in the comments!