Your Guide to Yogurt

I counted 24 types of yogurt in my small local grocery store. There were at least five flavors for each type, meaning more than 100 yogurt choices. No wonder it's tough to figure out which yogurt to buy!

When yogurt first started appearing on grocery store shelves in the U.S. in the 1970s, we ate, on average, three 4-ounce containers a year. By 2005 Americans averaged more than 10 times that much, according to the University of Wisconsin. Personally, I eat about 1.5 cups a day. That's a lot of yogurt!

Yogurt in many forms

Drinkable, squeezable, blended with fruit, fruit on the bottom, whole pieces of fruit mixed in, dessertlike flavors, candy crunchies, soy based -- what will they think of next? The healthiest yogurt is probably the least purchased: plain nonfat organic with active cultures. I love the tart flavor, there are no added sweeteners, and I can add my own mix-ins, such as fresh fruit and granola. If you haven't tried plain yogurt, give it a chance!

Yogurt types to avoid

  • Anything with sprinkles, candies or granola in a little container on top of the yogurt. The mix-ins are basically sugar and fat, meaning unnecessary calories.
  • Most smoothies and drinkable yogurts, which are typically a fancy way of adding more sugar. We should be consuming fewer sweeteners, not more, and should be especially wary of high-fructose corn syrup. Some drinkable yogurts, such as DanActive, come in plain, though that might be harder to find. You can make your own smoothies using plain yogurt and fruit for an honest-to-goodness healthy treat.
  • Yogurt in neon colors that aren't found in nature. Look for brands that color their yogurt using natural fruits and juices and avoid those with dye.

Say yes to these yogurts!

  • Plain nonfat organic yogurt.
  • Yogurt with the "Live and Active Cultures" seal, such as Dannon Activia. Such yogurt contains helpful bacteria that keep the digestive tract healthy. And brands such as DanActive promise to boost the immune system with their probiotics (beneficial microorganisms).
  • Yogurt enriched with vitamin D. Vitamin D is added to all the milk we drink, but not all yogurt manufacturers add it to their products. All Yoplait yogurts contain the vitamin.
  • Stonyfield Farm. These yogurts are either organic or all natural; neither variety contains artificial colors or dyes.
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