Filled with protein, packed with probiotics, and loaded with bone-building calcium, yogurt is one of the most nutritious foods to help aid digestion and get you one step closer to those summer body goals. When you combine that with its versatile ability to take on flavors and uses, yogurt is one of the greatest food trends of the 21st century! Not only can you conjure up a dip or use it as a condiment or create a delicious bowl recipe, it also makes the perfect snack all on its very own.
But with yogurt becoming such a popular movement in the health food world, the yogurt section of the market has grown and the options have become overwhelming. If you're feeling like you just entered a United Nations meeting during your latest trip down the dairy aisle because of the endless choices of worldly yogurts, we're here to help with your decision process.
With so much excitement over the variety of options and the pretty colors, we tend to be careless about a creamy stuff in the container; but the truth lies in the labels, and some can be deceiving. You might see 'natural or 'zero sugar' written on the label, but be sure to check the list of ingredients for words like high-fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch and Red 40—all of which should all be avoided since they are unnecessary and can lead to weight gain. Our general advice: If you can't find any flavored yogurts without these added ingredients, go for the plain version and make your own! This way you can cut back all the processed stuff and know exactly what's going into it. Headed to the grocery story soon? Take a peek at these 25 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss , which are a little more on the traditional side, but all great options for your waistline!
TRADITIONAL UNSTRAINED YOGURT
Yogurt is cultured milk that is thickened through lactic-acid producing cultures being adding to milk. This also creates that familiar sour flavor of yogurt. This kind of yogurt tends to be thinner than yogurts like Greek or Australian because it hasn't been strained and thus has more liquid content. Unstrained yogurt is a great option for kids because some are turned off from the thicker consistencies. It's a perfect way to get the calcium to build strong bones and help digestion.
Eat This!: Blue Hill Sweet Potato Farm Fresh Yogurt
Here's a twist on your average yogurt! Its unique savory flavor profile makes for a perfect treat and no guilt. Made from grass-fed cows milk and using natural sweeteners, like maple sugar and molasses, this is a definite go-to choice.
Greek yogurt has become the Beyoncé of yogurt in the past few years, making up 40 percent of the total yogurt market. And we're not complaining. Compared to unstrained yogurt, Greek yogurt has twice the protein, less sugar, and fewer carbs than regular cow's milk yogurt. When buying this yogurt, checking the ingredients and protein counts are key because there are no FDA regulations on the ingredients or process of making Greek yogurt. What you should look for is a yogurt that has two main ingredients: milk and live active cultures. Avoid the brands that add unnecessary proteins and thickeners like whey concentrate and modified corn starch. If you already love Greek yogurt, then don't miss these 15 Savory Ways to Eat Greek Yogurt!
Eat This!: Dannon Oikos Triple Zero Coconut Creme Greek Yogurt
No added sugar or artificial sweeteners? Sounds perfect to us!
GOAT MILK YOGURT
A recent study found that 93 percent of infants allergic to cow's milk were able to drink goat milk with no reaction—so this is a great option is you don't feel so hot after having a cup of the other stuff. It also has a smoother, richer, and creamier texture than cow milk yogurt but a taste that can turn some people away, similar to goat cheese. The fat counts are usually higher with goat's milk yogurt but you can lower the fat content by skimming the layer of cream off of the top.
Eat This!: Redwood Hill Farm Apricot Mango Goat Milk Yogurt (pictured above is the plain version)
This goat yogurt is made with all natural ingredients and no refined sugars but has a sweet and tangy taste. There's also fruit at the bottom, so you can get an extra bite.
SHEEP'S MILK YOGURT
Sheep's milk yogurt is the go-to if you're looking for a similar taste and texture to cow's milk yogurt but don't usually react well to it. This is an excellent source of B vitamins, calcium, and riboflavin. This yogurt is ideal for cooking because it doesn't break down like other yogurts at high temperatures. The fat content of sheep milk is higher than cow milk, though. Speaking of calcium, check out these 20 Best Calcium-Rich Foods That Aren't Dairy for when you want to switch things up and get out of the dairy aisle.
Eat This!: Old Chatham Black Sheep Yogurt Plain
No thickeners or stabilizers are used to make this tasty sheep yogurt. We suggest plain so that you can cook with it! Replace a recipe that has 1 cup of butter with ¼ cup of plain Black Sheep Yogurt.
SKYR, AKA ICELANDIC YOGURT
Skryr is Greek yogurt's biggest competition in the yogurt-picking game. 'Skyr' is Iceland's version of cultured dairy, is made with milk and live active cultures, and then strained 4 times. The thickest in consistency, Icelandic yogurt is something you can really sink your teeth into. It's traditionally made from skim milk but now comes in varieties with 0, 2 or 4 (whole) percent. It's also filled with more protein per serving than any other yogurt!
Eat This!: Siggi's 4% Vanilla (my top pick!)
Made in Brooklyn and ecologically-friendly, Siggi's Skyr uses organic agave nectar and Madagascar bourbon vanilla (and real fruit in the fruit flavors) to give this yogurt its lively flavor and up the sweetness to the perfect level! With the milk straight from grass-fed cows and none of the artificial stuff, they really mean it when their labels say 'all natural!'
Australian yoghurt (fancy, right?) isn't strained like Greek and Icelandic are, so you get a similar texture to traditional yogurt. But because it is typically made with whole milk, it still has a thicker consistency that's more creamy. Translation: It's not quite as thick as Greek yogurt and not as liquidy as traditional yogurt, which leads to it falling somewhere in between. This kind of yogurt is sweetened with honey (unless you go totally plain) and has a sweet, tangy flavor. It also has a ton of protein and great flavor.
Eat This!: Noosa Yoghurt Honey
This perfectly sweet yogurt is the ideal pick-me-up when you're looking for something to curve your dessert cravings and don't want to indulge in any artificial sugars. If you want to totally cut the sugar they also have a plain flavor that you can add spices like cinnamon and vanilla to get a great flavor and half the sugar.
Soy yogurt starts with a soy milk base made from soybeans and combined with live cultures to thicken it up. It's dairy free, low in cholesterol and a go-to for yogurt lovers staying away from animal protein. The toughest part about this treat: it's hard to find an unsweetened version without any added thickeners. The consistency is pretty close to a liquid and lacks in any major flavors. The upside: Soy yogurt has been linked to blocking enzymes that impact carbohydrate digestion which results in a slower rise in blood sugar after a meal.
Eat This!: Stonyfield O'Soy Vanilla Yogurt
Made with organic soy milk, organic sugar, and organic natural vanilla flavor this is the ultimate pick for your yogurt fix. Instead of eating the whole six-ounce container, though, put half of it in a smoothie with spinach and banana. You'll cut back on sugar and still get some great flavors!
Almond milk is a mixture of ground almonds and water with a naturally low calorie count. By adding live and active cultures, almond yogurt is created. Almond yogurt is a non-dairy yogurt high in fiber and calcium, and low in fat and sodium. This is a delicious option for if you are looking to avoid lactose and dairy. It has a similar texture to traditional yogurt in that it's thin and loose. Unless you're making this in your own kitchen, it's hard to find a brand that doesn't have thickeners and sweeteners even in their plain flavor option. The protein counts are typically lower with almond based yogurt since a lot of those nutrients are extracted through the process of creating milk.
Eat This!: Amande Cultured Almondmilk Raspberry
This brand uses fruits like pineapple and peach to get the sweet flavors, and its live active cultures that will help digestion. Mix with chia seeds or flax meal to increase the nutritional value and get more protein and fiber.
This one could be a hit or miss for your taste buds, regardless of if you love coconut. (But if you do love it, you're more likely to like this!) The white meat of the coconut that's filled with healthy fats is pressed with water in order to make coconut milk, which then is combined with live cultures to produce coconut yogurt. Coconut milk generally has a thicker texture that's similar to whole milk or heavy cream—but when it's made into yogurt, the consistency is thin and similar to traditional yogurt. As tasty and pleasing as coconut milk might be, coconut yogurt usually lacks in protein and is difficult to track down a store-bought version with an ingredient list that doesn't have added sugars. And without sugar, this yogurt tends to be on the sour side and off-putting to many. If you have the resources, we suggest making your own at home with this recipe from The Kitchn*!
Eat This!: Coconut Grove Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt
Coconut grove uses organic coconut sugar and organic vanilla extract to get its flavor with only 8 grams of sugar per container.
DRINKABLE YOGURT & KEFIR
Perfect for packing lunches for the kids or when you're on the go, drinkable yogurts come in almost every variety and flavor. They range from super watery to ultra thick and have flavors that range from tart to sweet. The options are endless! "Kefir has been shown to help with lactose digestion and some research even supports that anti-cancer properties and can fight against tumors, as well as bacteria thanks to its probiotics." The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, and authors of The Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure explain. Now that you know so much about your yogurt choices, why not find out about 14 Yogurt-Free Products with Probiotics, too?
Eat This!(for the kids): Stonyfield Organic Super Smoothie Peach
A refreshing flavor that the kids will love to drink and parents will love to hand to their kiddos because they'll load up on calcium and protein without loading up on sugar.
Eat This! (for the adults) : Lifeway Greek Style Nonfat Strawberry Kefir
Super beneficial for your digestive system and not so loaded with sweeteners, this drinkable yogurt has great texture, taste, and benefits!