Yogurt provides essential nutrients such as high-quality protein, calcium and potassium, and the healthiest yogurt to eat is low in saturated fat and sugars. Yogurt can be one of the healthiest possible foods to add to your diet, but remember that you will get the most benefits when you eat it as part of an overall balanced diet.
The healthiest yogurt for older children and adults is from low-fat or fat-free milk because whole milk provides mostly saturated fat. Saturated fat may increase your risk for heart disease because it raises levels of bad LDL cholesterol in your blood. Low-fat or fat-free yogurt is lower in calories than regular yogurt. Someone on a 2,000-calorie diet should get three servings of reduced-fat dairy products per day to meet recommendations in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The healthiest yogurt does not have added sugar because it provides extra calories without supplying additional nutrients. Plain yogurt is free from added sugar, but flavored yogurts may be high in sugar. If you prefer the sweetness and taste of flavored yogurt, choose one that is sweetened with non-nutritive sugar substitutes instead of real sugar. To avoid added sugar, check the ingredients list to make sure that it does not contain corn syrup, sugar, high fructose corn syrup or honey.
Protein and Cultures
If you are on a weight-loss diet, you may prefer a yogurt with a higher amount of protein, since protein is a filling nutrient. Compare labels in the store to choose the yogurt that is highest in protein and lowest in calories to support a weight loss diet. Yogurt with live cultures is a healthy choice because probiotics, or healthy bacteria, may help your body fight infections or recover from antiobiotic treatments, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The healthiest yogurt for you may not be the same as for someone else. Children may refuse to eat yogurt without added sugar, and a better alternative may be a sugar-sweetened yogurt, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you are lactose intolerant or you are on a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, you may want to try soy yogurt, which has no milk or lactose in it.