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The Essential Guide to Yogurt

Today's yogurt aisles are vast and varied. Here's how to navigate yours.

By Kellee Katagi

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You can’t argue with science: Studies show that yogurt eaters—both men and women—tend to be healthier overall and have better metabolic profiles than those who don’t eat yogurt. This creamy, versatile staple contains ample nutrients, including high doses of calcium, protein, vitamin B12, riboflavin, phosphorus and sometimes probiotics. In addition, these days there are so many varieties of yogurt that all people can find one type to suit their tastes. Here’s an overview of your options.


This thick, creamy variety skyrocketed in popularity over the past decade, now accounting for more than 50 percent of all yogurt sales. It’s made by straining out the liquid whey, leaving a dense and tangy yogurt that’s extra high in protein and low in lactose. Also, traditional Greek yogurt doesn’t contain modified cornstarch, whey concentrates or other thickening agents.


Dannon Oikos: Look for delicious flavors such as lemon meringue and mixed berry.

Fage: This popular brand contains live cultures and no added thickeners.


Also called skyr (pronounced “skeer”), Icelandic yogurt is also becoming a consumer favorite. Even thicker and higher in protein than Greek yogurt—it takes four cups of milk to make a cup of Icelandic versus three cups for Greek—it’s also usually less tangy and contains less sugar.


Icelandic Provisions: Delivers 15–17 grams of protein per cup and a third less sugar than most yogurts.

Siggi’s: Uses milk from grass-fed cows; the flavored varieties have only 8–11 grams of sugar.


Fashioned after yogurt from Down Under, Australian yogurt generally uses whole milk, infused with a bit of honey and packed with live, active cultures. It’s not strained, so its texture resembles that of traditional yogurt.


Noosa: Every tub of Noosa’s blueberry flavor employs 70 farm-fresh blueberries; and don’t miss the Noosa Mates honey pretzel peanut variety with honey yogurt and crunchies.


Some studies have shown grass-fed and organic dairy to be higher in omega-3s and conjugated linolenic acid (CLA), an essential fatty acid that may increase metabolic rates and strengthen immunity. Organic yogurts, as well as some grass-fed types, are also free of added steroids, growth hormones and pesticides.


Stonyfield: For more than 30 years, this brand has delivered delicious and pure, organic products.

Dreaming Cow: This grass-fed yogurt features delicious flavors like honey pear and maple ginger. 


All yogurts begin with live, active cultures, but not all contain clinically verified beneficial strains known as probiotics. To get more of these beneficial bacteria—good for your immune system and more—look for the phrase “live, active cultures” on the package, or a list of which strains the yogurt contains. For extra effectiveness, opt for types with less sugar, which can counteract benefits.


Activia: Provides billions of CFUs of beneficial bacteria, which can relieve minor digestive distress.

White Mountain: A third-party has verified 90 billion CFUs of probiotics in each cup of this tangy, Bulgarian-style yogurt.


Many people who are lactose-intolerant can enjoy yogurt because of its lower lactose levels, but for those allergic to milk, nondairy options offer creamy, tasty, plant-based goodness. Popular dairy substitutes include almond, coconut and soy milks.


So Delicious: This vegan product uses coconut milk for its base, with a rich and creamy result.

Silk: Choose from tasty almond- or soy-based flavors, including peach mango and dark chocolate coconut.

It’s All in the Delivery

We’ve come a long way from simple tubs of yogurt. Shelves abound with packages that suit your every need. Innovations we applaud include: single-serve containers with separate compartments containing mix-ins, squeeze tubes for people on-the-go and an ancient, but newly popular style: drinkable yogurt (like Drink Chobani), also called kefir, which is high in probiotics.

A Kitchen Staple

Yogurt is delicious on its own, but it’s also a healthy substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream in nearly any recipe. You can also use it to cut down on butter when baking: Replace half the butter with half as much yogurt—for example, for 1 cup of butter, use half a cup of butter and a quarter cup of yogurt. For oil, exchange half the oil for three-fourths the amount of yogurt. For creamy smoothies, use yogurt instead of milk.


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