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The #1 Best Yogurt for a Healthy Gut, Say Dietitians

You may assume all probiotic-rich yogurts are good for your health, but some are better than others.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

When considering gut health, probiotics should be a top priority in your diet. These healthy bacteria help to maintain equilibrium and regularity in your digestive tract, and may even play important roles in your immune system and fighting inflammation in your body. While there are many different ways to consume probiotics, yogurt is one of the most convenient and tasty ways to get a daily dose of these gut-friendly microorganisms.

We'll take a look at the different yogurts you can buy to determine which best for a healthy gut.

Different types of yogurt

They may all start with a cow's milk base, but the different processes of making yogurt result in different benefits.

Regular yogurt

Compared to other types of yogurt, regular yogurt most notably has a less tangy flavor and a much thinner texture than other yogurt varieties. This is the traditional yogurt many of us grew up with, and while regular yogurt contains less protein than Greek and Icelandic varieties, it typically contains a higher number of probiotics, making it a good choice for gut health.

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Greek yogurt

This thicker form of yogurt exploded in popularity over the last decade, and for good reason. Greek yogurt goes through a straining process that removes much of the liquid, thus creating a thicker, more creamy texture. This process makes the protein more concentrated in the yogurt; however, while the liquid is being removed, so are some of the nutrients, including probiotics.

Icelandic yogurt

Icelandic yogurt goes through a similar process as Greek yogurt, although it goes through additional straining to create an even denser product that is also less tart. Because of the additional straining, it is likely that even more probiotics are removed from this form of yogurt. So, while creamy, delicious, and high in protein, Icelandic yogurt may not be the best option for those looking to use yogurt to maximize probiotic intake for gut health.

The #1 best yogurt for gut health is… kefir

Kefir often gets thrown into the yogurt category, and you will often find it near yogurt in the grocery store; however, it is considered to be a "liquid milk beverage". Regular yogurt and kefir are both fermented dairy products and actually have a similar nutrient profile. While calories, protein, and calcium remain similar, kefir often contains more probiotics than yogurt. Some data even suggests kefir, which can average 61 different strains of probiotic bacteria, contains as much as three times the number of probiotics in regular yogurt.

READ MORE6 Reasons to Start Drinking Kefir

Which is the best?

Probiotics are the most important ingredient to look at when considering how yogurt can best maintain a healthy gut. This fact makes kefir the best yogurt option to help maintain a healthy gut. However, for traditionalists who may not consider kefir to be part of the yogurt family, the next best option would be regular yogurt as it has the next highest number of probiotics. If you do want to eat regular yogurt for gut health, make sure you're looking for a brand that has the lowest amount of added sugar—aim for less than 10 grams per cup.

Greek and Icelandic yogurts are still great options as they do provide some probiotics along with a hearty dose of protein.

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Kelsey Hampton Abdullah, MS, RDN
Kelsey is a Texas-based dietitian and professor who specializes in sports nutrition. Read more about Kelsey
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