About Me

Note from Maria: I am a Registered Dietitian with a Master of Public Health Degree in Nutrition from UNC at Chapel Hill. I have a passion for helping people with nutrition & wellness, especially moms. Women & moms provide care for everyone else often at the expense of considering their own needs. I hope to provide good resources to you to help you make nutrition and wellness a priority.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Yogurt - healthy or not?

Like many items in the grocery store, there are so many choices it can be overwhelming!! Yogurt is no exception and all yogurt is not created equal.....so lets review yogurt facts to help you make good decisions:
  • Full fat, low fat and fat free:
    • Most people should choose low fat or fat free to help limit saturated fat. If you are underweight, you can choose yogurt made with whole milk. 
  • Light or lite:
    • These marketing terms can be confusing, but this means it contains less calories than the "original". It may have less fat or less sugar and may have artificial sweeteners. You will have to read the ingredient label to figure out how they reduced the calories.
    • If you are avoiding artificial sweeteners, read the ingredient list carefully to see if any are included. 
  • Greek yogurt:
    • Comes in full fat, low fat or fat free.
    • Has more protein than regular yogurt.
    • Generally the texture is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt.
    • The flavored varieties will usually have added sugar. 
  • Plain yogurt - Greek or regular
    • This can be full fat, low fat or fat free. 
    • It does not have added sugar. However, it will contain some sugar naturally found in milk called lactose or "milk sugar". Lactose is a lower sweetness intensity than regular table sugar (sucrose). Although yogurt contains lactose, it is partially broken down during the process of making yogurt, so people with lactose intolerance can often eat yogurt.
    • Plain yogurt is a good choice because it does not have added sugar. 
  • Most yogurt contains active cultures. These are good bacteria which are good for your digestive tract. It is great to eat yogurt after a round of antibiotics since antibiotics can kill off your good bacteria along with the bad. 
  • Generally the the yogurt used for coatings on yogurt covered raisins, nuts, etc. is not as healthy as eating fresh yogurt and is usually just loaded with sugar, so this is not really as healthy as it sounds! 
My thoughts: 
  • Regular yogurts with added sugar are not usually the best choice because they can contain 25-35 grams of sugar. This is equivalent to around 6-8 tsps of sugar. 
  • Yogurts that come with the add-ins in the top are not usually the best choices either. You can usually add healthier items yourself. 
  • For most people low fat or fat free plain Greek yogurt is a great choice because it is lower in sugar, fat and higher in protein.  For flavor add any combination of the following: fresh or plain frozen fruit, nuts, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, high fiber cereal, cinnamon, &/or a drop of vanilla extract. It is also great in a fruit smoothie, just add fresh or plain frozen fruit, some low fat milk and a little ice.
  • A 6 oz cup of nonfat plain Chobani Greek Yogurt has 100 calories, 18 grams of protein and 20% of the average person's calcium needs, making this a great choice. 
  • Not all yogurt is created equal so read the nutrition panel to compare. Here are some links to some of the common brands if you want to check them out at home:

Please let me know if you have any questions. 

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