One glance at the supermarket’s miles-long yogurt aisle tells you all you need to know about yogurt’s popularity. But has yogurt really earned its reputation as a healthy superfood?
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It’s complicated. Yogurt is absolutely good for you, says registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD. But not all yogurt is created equal, and some choices are definitely better than others.
Tart, sweet, thick, thin: Here’s what you should know about yogurt’s good side and how to pick a winner.
As far as nutrients go, yogurt has a lot going for it. It’s full of:
Those nutrients are good for head-to-toe health. But there’s also research suggesting that yogurt is specifically good for heart health: Yogurt has been linked to healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And some research shows that eating yogurt as part of a healthy diet can help prevent long-term weight gain, which is good for the heart.
While yogurt has a lot going for it, not all yogurt is a healthy choice. Some flavored yogurts — even those made with real fruit — can be more like junk food in disguise.
That strawberry swirl fruit-on-the-bottom or chocolate chip crunch topping can pack a sugary punch. Some flavored yogurts contain more sugar in one serving than the daily recommended amount. (The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men.)
What about sugar-free flavors? Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners may not be any healthier than real sugar. And eating super-sweet artificial sweeteners can set up your taste buds to crave more sweet stuff throughout the day.
Your best bet is to avoid flavored yogurt and reach for the plain variety. “Plain, nonfat yogurt is best,” says Zumpano. “Both original and Greek-style are excellent sources of protein, calcium and probiotics.”
What should you know before you hit that overwhelming dairy aisle? Here’s a rundown of your yogurt options.
Unsweetened yogurt gets two thumbs up from many dietitians. But some people are put off by its tart taste. If you’re still getting used to plain yogurt, try these tricks until your taste buds adapt:
Once you start adding a dollop of yogurt here and there, you’ll discover all sorts of ways to enjoy this versatile food.