What Is the Difference Between Activia and Regular Yogurt?

It may have been discovered accidentally, but people have been eating yogurt since 6,000 B.C., according to the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Today, there are a wide variety of different types of yogurts and brands available at the grocery store, from low-fat to nonfat to Greek to yogurts with added fiber. Activia, made by Dannon, is similar to regular yogurt, but contains an exclusive strain of bacteria not found in any other yogurt.

Two small containers of homemade yogurt. (Image: tashka2000/iStock/Getty Images)

What's In Regular Yogurt?

Regular yogurt is a mixture of milk -- whole, low-fat or skimmed -- and cream that has been fermented by lactic acid-producing bacteria such as lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Other strains of bacteria, such as acidophilus, may also be added. Regular yogurt is available plain or sweetened and with added ingredients such as fruit or vanilla flavoring. Varieties of yogurt include low-fat and nonfat.

What's In Activia?

Activia contains many of the same ingredients found in regular yogurt such as milk, lactic acid-producing bacteria, including lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, sweeteners, fruit or flavorings and other additives. It is available in regular or light, Greek regular or light, with added fiber or as a drink. Activia also contains Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010, also known as Bifidus Regularis, which is the bacteria found only in Activia products.

What's So Great About Bifidus Regularis?

Bifidus regularis is a probiotic specifically added to the Dannon yogurt to aid in digestive health. A 2009 study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" showed that daily consumption of yogurt with Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010 improved well-being and digestive symptoms in women with minor digestive problems. A 2011 study published in "Pediatrics" found that children suffering from constipation who were given yogurt containing the exclusive bacterial strain had an increase in stool production. However, the control group also showed an increase, and the researchers concluded that more studies were necessary before recommendations could be made. It is important to note that both studies were supported by a grant from Dannon, the parent company of the makers of Activia.

Benefits of All Yogurt

Yogurt, whether regular or Activia, offers a number of health benefits. Yogurt is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, as well as protein and potassium. Additionally, the bacteria that ferment the milk, known as probiotics, help promote gut and immune health by repopulating the friendly bacteria found in your large intestine. These bacteria also help break down the lactose in the milk, making it a more digestible dairy product, which is especially beneficial to those suffering from lactose intolerance.

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