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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Ann Arbor, MI!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Grocery Store Guide: Navigating the Yogurt Aisle

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healthy yogurt guide

Greek. Icelandic. Swiss. Fruit flavored. Fruit at the bottom. Nonfat. Lowfat. Full-fat. Soy yogurt. Almond yogurt. Sheep’s milk. Goat’s milk. Organic. All-Natural.

Have you ever stood in front of the yogurt aisle just completely overwhelmed by all of the choices?

I definitely have!

Once upon a time, yogurt was probably limited to plain or vanilla, with maybe a couple of brands to choose from. Today, the yogurt aisle is staggeringly long, with what seems like hundreds of different choices, brands, flavors, and textures — all of which claim to be “healthy.”

And of course, yogurt is a healthier choice for a snack than, say, a can of soda (although some yogurts, with the amount of sugar in them, come pretty close to that can of soda!)

But because it can just be so confusing, I thought I’d create The Picky Eater’s Guide to the Yogurt Aisle – with my tips and tricks for figuring out which yogurt is right for you, and a list of my favorite brands 🙂

To start – why is yogurt good for you? 

  • It’s a decent source of vegetarian protein that’s low in calories 
  • It is a good source of calcium
  • It contains good-for-you bacteria – known as “probiotics” or “live and active cultures” that can help improve digestion and regulate your immune system
  • It contains Vitamin D (which helps boost calcium absorption)
  • And it tastes good!

healthy yogurt guide

Photo from CookingLight.com

So what should you look for in the yogurt you buy? Here are my 6 Rules for the Yogurt Aisle:

1. Protein Content: Keeps you fuller longer. For a true protein punch, try Greek Yogurt. Since it is strained, it requires three to four times more milk to produce than regular yogurt, which adds up to 15g to 20g more protein per 6 ounces – equivalent to 3 ounces of meat! (Regular yogurt has about 9g protein for 6 oz.)

2. Live Active Yogurt Cultures (i.e. healthy bacteria): The FDA requires at least two strains of bacteria in all yogurt, L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus. Yogurt makers can add more. Look for the National Yogurt Association seal: It ensures 100 million cultures per gram (i.e., lots) – (source: CookingLight.com)

3. Limited added sugar! This one is incredibly important. 6 oz of plain, unsweetened yogurt have about 6-10 oz of naturally occurring sugars from the milk. Fruit, honey, and sugars add more. Some yogurts (especially those made for kids) can have as much as 20-30g of sugar! That’s more than one can of Coke. Stick to unsweetened flavors, and add your own natural sweeteners (like fresh fruit or 1 tsp of honey) if needed.

4. Fat content: Low-fat yogurts are the best because they have a tiny bit of fat to help absorb the protein and vitamins in the yogurt, but they also have more calcium. When fat is removed, calcium gets concentrated. Lower fat yogurts have about 30% of your recommended daily intake. Greek yogurts have 20% (because some calcium is removed through the straining process). I’d choose low fat over non fat.

5. Organic / no rBGH (growth hormone): Dairy cows are routinely fed hormones, antibiotics, and pesticide-covered grains, all of which can end up in your milk and your yogurt! Buy organic with no hormones and you’ll be good to go.

6. No fillers or thickeners (i.e. cornstarch, gelatin, pectin or carrageenan): Fillers and thickeners are often added to non-dairy yogurts to give them stability and a good consistency, but they are also highly processed ingredients that may trigger digestive issues and inflammatory reactions in the body.

923_greek_yogurt-2

In terms of which brands to buy, here is my favorite: Stonyfield Farms: Organic, Plain, Low Fat Greek Yogurt. I like adding fresh blueberries, 1 tsp honey, and a handful of walnuts to it.

Here are some other brands that are great:

  • Chobani Plain 0% Greek Yogurt
  • Fage Total 2% Greek Yogurt
  • Dannon Oikos Plain 0% Greek Yogurt
  • StonyField Farms Organic Plain Regular Yogurt
  • Wallaby Organic Plain Regular Yogurt (they also have Plain Greek available)
  • Trader Joe’s Organic Low Fat Plain Regular Yogurt
  • If you want a flavored yogurt (e.g. you’re on the go and can’t add fresh fruit, a dash of honey or vanilla), choose one flavored with vanilla or honey – but watch out for the sugar content! Siggi’s Icelandic yogurt has one of the lower sugar contents for flavored yogurt – so that can be a good choice as well – but the texture of Icelandic yogurt is not for everyone so try it out and see how you like it before buying a ton of it!

I hope this post has been helpful for your next trip to the grocery store!

And now I’d love to hear from you: Which yogurt brands are your favorite? What do you look for in the yogurts you buy? Happy yogurt hunting everyone!

52 responses to “Grocery Store Guide: Navigating the Yogurt Aisle”

    • Hi Bradley! Good question! So first, there’s traditional yogurt. It is just unstrained yogurt (milk + cultures) made with skim, 2%, or whole milk. It has a smoother, creamier texture than Greek yogurt. Then there’s Icelandic yogurt. It is strained yogurt (four cups of milk are strained to make one cup of Icelandic yogurt). It
      is much higher in protein than traditional yogurt (1 cup can contain up to 20g protein), and it can be thicker than Greek yogurt – consistency wise. Greek yogurt is also strained yogurt, just not as strained as Icelandic (three cups of milk are strained to make one cup of Greek yogurt). It has twice as much protein as unstrained yogurt (1 cup has about 15g protein). Consistency wise it’s creamy and thick, but not as smooth as traditional yogurt and not as thick as Icelandic yogurt. Swiss yogurt (also called stirred yogurt) is made from cultured milk that is incubated and cooled in a large vat, then stirred to give it a thinner, creamier consistency than Greek yogurt. It has more protein per serving than traditional yogurt, but less than Greek yogurt (about 12-13g protein per serving). Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Thanks so much for that info Anjali 🙂 That was the final key in a most wonderful article, and I’m so elated that you took the time to circle back around after all of this time and explain those points. So, I would think of Swiss as a more yoplay-ish sort of consistency, and I’m going to have to try out some icelandic yogurt. As an aside here, about 21 years ago my digestive system completely shutdown and I had to go to the hospital. When I was discharged I was told, “The best thing for you to eat over the next week or so is yogurt with live cultured bacteria and just a little rice for filler until the flora in your system starts to repopulate, or you could have another episode – since we don’t really know what caused this.” I ate plain yogurt for a few weeks after that. I still love yogurt. But just last week (This is how I came upon your blog), I experienced a mini-episode of this. So the pain didn’t completely go away, so on about day four I came here to your blog, then went straight to the store and got a plastic jar of the number one on your list above: Chobani Plain 0% Greek Yogurt. I ate a very small bowl. Yummy. All stabbing pains completely gone – and it’s been almost three days since. Thank you again Anjali!

      • Thanks Bradley! So glad it was helpful. And I’m so sorry you’ve been dealing with such severe digestive issues! But so happy that this post helped you to find the yogurt that made you feel better! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  1. ALDI Grocery store has a good store brand of low-fat Greek yogurt packaged under the Friendly Farms label.
    It has all the cultures you find in the Chobani Greek Yogurt. Best of all, the price is reasonable.

    It is easy to make yogurt. Get recipe on internet. No need for special equipment as long as you can keep the yogurt at a constant low temp.

    • Good tips Rozena! Thanks for sharing! If the Friendly Farms yogurt at ALDI is plain (not flavored), that would be a great option!

  2. Hi Anjali, Thanks for your quick and very detailed response.
    Can you please recommend best plain low fat Greek yogurt , and which stores its available? I stay in Houston.

    • No problem! Honestly – any Greek yogurt that is low fat and plain (no added sugars) and organic is great. I like Wallaby and Stonyfield, but any brand you can find in the store that fits those criteria (Greek, low fat, plain, organic) is perfect. Whole Foods has a good selection that should give you plenty to choose from!

  3. Hi Anjali,

    Iam on protein diet from 1 month ,My intake is 1800 calories per day.
    as part of the diet I need to take Yogurt with fruits as evening snack .
    when Iam searching for good yogurt product I found this blog Informative/interesting and stopped here.
    Do you recommend any yogurt with fruits product for on the go?
    and also can you share recipes for adding fruits to plain Yogurt with minimum calories.

    • Hi Naresh! Thanks so much for reaching out. To your questions: there are no pre-packaged yogurt with fruit mixed in products (that you can buy at the store) that are low in sugar and therefore good for on the go. My suggestion would be to just take a container of plain, low fat greek yogurt (organic if you can find it) and pack some cut up fruit that you enjoy (berries, apples, pear, etc) on the side. When it’s time to eat just stir the cut fruit into the yogurt and you’re good to go! You can even mix it in a container the night before and take it out the next day to eat (should be good for 24 hours). Another option is to put the plain yogurt + fruit into a blender and make a smoothie out of it — pack it in a thermos and take it with you to drink on the go. Hope that helps!

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