Yogurt is one of the healthiest, most nutritious and refreshing snacks out there.

Yogurt contains protein, calcium and probiotics; however, with the vastly expanding choices available, picking the right variety can be a daunting task at times.

When looking at the nutrition label, certain components will assist in making the decision as to which yogurt is best for you.

Begin with checking the label for probiotics — the product package will have a “Live & Active Cultures” seal, which indicates the yogurt has high amount of probiotics in the container.

Lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophiles are generally found in yogurt along with other probiotics. These probiotics are “good” bacteria, which keep your digestive system healthy.

Sugar and fat content are also great indicators of nutritional value. Try to seek out plain yogurt with a sugar content of nine grams or less; flavored yogurt should contain less than fifteen grams of sugar.

Be mindful of the saturated fat content of yogurt (if not nonfat) and aim to choose yogurts which fit into your daily dietary fat allowance.

Both sugar and fat content can be found on the nutrition facts label on the back of the yogurt container.

There are different types of yogurts which appeal to different people based on flavor, consistency and nutritional value. The following yogurt varieties are the two most popular and can be found at mainstream grocery stores:

Regular yogurt: Regular yogurt has been on the market for many, many years and is probably the type of yogurt most people have tried. To make yogurt, milk is heated then cooled to the fermentation temperature and bacterial cultures (probiotics) are added.

This mixture ferments, produces lactic acid and the milk proteins gel together to produce yogurt. Regular yogurt is not strained, which produces a thinner, more liquid product with more milk sugar and calcium.

Flavoring is then added as needed for more taste appeal. Regular yogurt is found more often in children’s varieties due to the texture and taste.

Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is strained to remove liquid whey and lactose, which results in a thick and tangier yogurt. Greek yogurt has almost double the protein of regular yogurt and about three times the saturated fat than regular yogurt (unless it is a nonfat version).

Generally, Greek yogurt contains about half the sodium and carbohydrates of regular yogurt; however, the carbohydrate and sugar content increases if flavoring is added.

Because of the texture, Greek yogurt is used as a substitute for sour cream, dip and mayonnaise.

Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at carey.stites@smchh.org.

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