Yogurt is a high-protein, calcium-rich dairy product that makes for a healthy breakfast or snack. According to research from the Stanford School of Medicine published in July 2021, eating fermented foods such as yogurt "enhances the diversity of gut microbes and decreases molecular signs of inflammation," benefiting both the immune system and the gut microbiome.
But yogurt can be a bit boring and bland, especially if it's plain. The trick to making it taste better and more substantial without losing its health benefits? Combining it with foods that add flavor and texture.
Here are some of the delicious additions that will bring your yogurt snack or breakfast to life.
Fresh, canned, dried or frozen fruit brings color, texture, flavor and nutrition to yogurt, without adding fat or calories. Nutrition-wise, blueberries are an especially smart option: According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, they "increase antioxidant activity in the blood" and "contain many phytochemicals and nutrients which show potential anti-cancer effects."
But really, any fruit will do. Diced apples, peaches, strawberries, bananas, pineapple chunks, coconut flakes and even cranberries and raisins can all make plain yogurt sing — while adding beneficial fiber, vitamins and minerals to your diet.
Cereal and Crackers
Granola — that trail mix go-to made of rolled oats, nuts, dried fruits, seeds and spices — adds flavor, sweetness, carbs and texture to creamy yogurt. Some granolas, however, can be high in fat and/or calories. Lower-fat and -calorie cereals such as Rice Krispies or Cheerios are another crunchy option, as are graham crackers or your favorite crushed cracker of any variety.
Nuts, Nut Butters, Grains and Seeds
When it comes to heart health, walnuts are a top choice for topping yogurt: According to research from Penn State published in January 2020, "eating two to three ounces of walnuts a day ... could be a good way to improve gut health and reduce the risk of heart disease."
That said, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, peanut butter, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and even grains like amaranth and quinoa are also nutritious — and delicious — options. Experiment!
Before adding nuts, seeds and grains to yogurt, toast them for a few minutes in a hot skillet to maximize flavor and crunch.
Honey, Syrups, Jellies and Jams
Maple syrup, agave nectar, honey and fruit marmalades, jams and jellies will all make plain yogurt taste sweeter, without adding fat.
Herbs, Spices and Extracts
Rose petals and saffron? Ginger and turmeric? Crushed lavender and lemon extract? Create your own custom, low-cal flavor combinations that please your personal palate.
- TheKitchn.com; "10 Favorite Add-Ins to Yogurt"; Emma Christensen
- WeightWatchers.com; "Power Up With Power Foods: Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt"; Leslie Fink, MS, RD
- Chowhound.com; "Ideas for Jazzing Up Plain Fat Free Yogurt"; Bzdhkap
- Stanford Medicine News Center: "A Fermented-Food Diet Increases Microbiome Diversity and Lowers Inflammation, Stanford Study Finds"
- American Institute for Cancer Research: "Blueberries — Increase Antioxidant Activity in the Blood"
- Penn State News: "Walnuts May Be Good for the Gut and Help Promote Heart Health"