Yogurt Nutrition and Health Benefits

by OneGoodFoodBlog
Yogurt Nutrition and Health Benefits

If you’re a healthy eater, you probably have yogurt in your refrigerator. The dairy food provides nutritional benefits especially for people who are looking to boost gastrointestinal health, trying to lose weight or improve their health. But some brands of yogurt can be high in sugar, fat, and calories depending on the type that you buy. Compare yogurt nutrition and yogurt calories to choose the right product for your diet.

Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (8 ounces or 235g) of plain whole milk yogurt.

  • Calories: 149
  • Fat: 8g
  • Sodium: 113mg
  • Carbohydrates: 11.4g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 11.4g
  • Protein: 8.5g

Plain yogurt is simply yogurt that contains no added fruit, flavoring, or added sugars. Many people use plain yogurt in recipes or as a replacement for sour cream in dips and sauces. Plain yogurt is an excellent source of calcium and is high in phosphorus and riboflavin. But it also provides more naturally-occurring sugar (from lactose) and saturated fat than most people would expect to find in a “healthy” food.

Yogurt Calories by Brand

If you are watching your waistline, you might choose yogurt as a snack or meal. Low-fat and non-fat yogurt is likely to have fewer calories, but there is also some evidence that full fat dairy can also be included in a successful weight loss program. Here’s how some of the popular brands of plain yogurt stack up per serving.

  • Fage Plain Nonfat Yogurt: 90 calories, 5 grams carbohydrate, 18 grams protein, 5 grams sugar
  • Yoplait Plain Nonfat Yogurt: 130 calories, 20 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams protein, 13 grams sugar
  • siggi’s Plain Nonfat Yogurt: 130 calories, 10 grams carbohydrate, 25 grams protein, 7 grams sugar
  • Dannon Plain Nonfat Yogurt: 120 calories, 18 grams carbohydrate, 10 grams protein, 15 grams sugar

Health Benefits of Yogurt

Foods that contain protein promote “satiety” or fullness. So if you eat yogurt for breakfast or lunch, you may not be as likely to get hunger cravings shortly after your meal. The protein in traditional or Greek yogurt can also help your body to build and maintain muscle.

Yogurt is also a good way to boost your calcium intake, especially if you are a non-milk drinker. The wide range of flavors available makes it easy for even the pickiest eater to find a flavor that he or she likes.

Lastly, consumers often buy yogurt in single serving cups, which makes eating the right portion size easy. For that reason, yogurt cups are popular with people who are trying to reach or maintain a healthy weight.

Is Plain or Flavored Yogurt Healthier?

When consumers choose yogurt to eat as a snack or with a meal, they often choose flavored yogurt because it has a sweeter taste. But it is also higher in sugar and may be higher in calories. A single 150-gram serving of Dannon Strawberry yogurt, for example, provides 15 grams of sugar and 140 calories (almost the same number of calories as the much larger serving of plain yogurt indicated on the label). A single serving of Yoplait Original Strawberry yogurt contains 150 calories, 2 grams of fat and 18 grams of sugar.

Greek Yogurt vs. Traditional Yogurt

Greek yogurt is another popular option for healthy eaters. Greek yogurt is thicker and less sweet than traditional yogurt. The product is strained to remove much of the sugar, lactose and liquid whey. As a result, some brands of Greek yogurt have less sugar and more protein than traditional versions of yogurt.

So how does Greek yogurt nutrition compare to traditional yogurt? Greek yogurt calories are usually about the same. Fage Total 2% Plain Yogurt provides 150 calories, 4 grams of fat and 20 grams of protein. It also provides eight grams of sugar.

Is Frozen Yogurt Healthy?

And what about frozen yogurt? In terms of nutrition, frozen yogurt is usually not the same as the yogurt you find in the dairy aisle. Frozen yogurt often contains more sugar and less protein than the type of yogurt that you keep in the refrigerator.

Does All Yogurt Have Probiotics?

While more research is needed on the role of probiotics on health, some yogurt brands like Activia advertise probiotics in their products. Not all yogurt has probiotics, so if you’re looking to get probiotics from yogurt be sure to read the nutrition label and ingredient list to make sure that it contains “live active cultures.” And remember, there are multiple strains of bacteria that can be added, so not each brand will have the same kind.

Choosing and Storing Yogurt

If you are buying yogurt to include in your healthy diet, always remember to check the Nutrition Facts label and ingredients list. Some yogurt products contain just a few ingredients like milk and fruit, but others may contain quite a bit of added sugar, corn syrup, and other ingredients like corn starch or gelatin that you might not want.

And if you are comparing the calorie count of yogurt, be sure that the containers you are evaluating are the same size. Some yogurt products are lower in calories simply because the package is smaller.

When you store yogurt at home, keep it refrigerated and tightly sealed. Yogurt can be frozen, but it may separate and have a different texture when it is thawed.

Healthy Ways to Include Yogurt in Your Diet

Yogurt is a great snack all by itself. But you can also add toppings or other ingredients to make it a meal. Try any of these ideas.

  • Use a yogurt-based dressing as a dip for savory crunchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, jicama, or celery.
  • Top yogurt with fruit such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or melon to satisfy your sweet tooth
  • Sprinkle yogurt with nuts such as almonds or walnuts, or with seeds such as flax seeds for crunch and flavor
  • Drizzle plain yogurt with honey for a burst of sweetness
  • Season with cinnamon, vanilla or your favorite extract to get flavor without adding calories
  • Make a creamy, rich dessert by mixing dark chocolate chips or cocoa nibs into vanilla, coconut or coffee flavored yogurt.
  • Add yogurt to your blender when making a healthy smoothie for a creamier consistency.
  • Make a yogurt parfait by layering oats, fruit and vanilla yogurt

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