Low-Fat vs. Nonfat Yogurt: Which Is Better?

Fat content is only one thing to consider when purchasing yogurt
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The makeup of yogurt was once simple: milk and live cultures. But now, consumers are often confused about which type of yogurt to buy, as the ingredients in many popular types of yogurts aren't as straightforward anymore.

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In an effort to make lower-fat products, some yogurt manufacturers use reduced-fat milk. To make up for the taste, other ingredients are added. Low-fat and nonfat yogurts both contain less fat than whole-milk yogurt, but you should always read the label for added sugars and flavors.

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Fat Content and Nutritional Value

If you're looking to limit the fat in your diet, nonfat yogurt may be a better choice than low- and whole-fat yogurt. The fat content in yogurt depends on the type of milk used. Traditional yogurt is made from whole milk, which is higher than skim (0.5 percent fat) and low-fat (between 0.5 and 2 percent fat) milks.

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However, nonfat yogurts might also contain less calcium and protein. Plus, some low-fat and nonfat yogurts have more calories because of the fruits and syrups that are added for taste.

Overall, the most nutritious yogurt is plain yogurt without added sugar. Whole-fat yogurt contains higher levels of calcium and protein as well as less sugar than other types of yogurt. And if you want some flavor (and fiber), you can add your own fruit at home.

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Plain yogurt has a rich taste to it. By using reduced-fat milk, yogurt usually has a slightly diluted taste. To make up for a lack of flavor, yogurt manufacturers add different ingredients like fruit, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.

But added sugar gives the yogurt higher overall carbohydrate content. Preservatives and food colorings might be added to make the yogurt last longer and look more appetizing. The lower the fat content, the more ingredients there'll likely be in a cup of yogurt.

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Other Considerations

Plain yogurt made from whole milk is healthier overall than yogurt made with low-fat or skim milk. If you're worried about fat in your diet, reduce other types of unhealthy fats from other foods.

Fat, along with protein and carbohydrates, is a dietary necessity. Fats help provide your body with energy and maximize vitamin absorption. It's recommended that your daily diet consist of 30 percent fat. Eat yogurt in moderation and choose heart-healthy fats found in nuts, legumes, fish and olive oil.

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