Yogurt is packed with protein, crammed with calcium, popping with probiotics, yogurt has all the makings of one of the most versatile foods. Not only does it make a great snack, it also makes a healthier swap out for dips or as a dessert topping.
But tread ye carefully in the aisle of the fermented milk products; manufacturers have a knack for cramming as much sugar and artificial ingredients into yogurt pots as they do candy.
Greek yogurt never existed in our grocery stores 10 yrs ago now it makes up a good 20- 30 feet in our local stores.
We should be looking for yogurt that is as low in sugar as possible. Yogurt has naturally occurring sugar and then most yogurt has added sugar which can be upwards of 30 grams per serving – that’s 10 tsp of sugar!!
Beware of the vanilla! I’m not even sure how that much sugar can be packed in those little tubs but it can unfortunately like in Yoplait Thick Creamy vanilla yogurt which has 28 g of sugar and 180 cal per 6 oz container. That’s almost twice as much sugar as in a candy bar!
Look for plain yogurts like Biobest, Skyr (it’s the scandanavian equivalent to Greek yogurt in thickness and because it’s high in protein, 20 g per serving which is just over a little more than 3 eggs! Like yogurt, Skyr, it comes in fruit flavours, vanilla and plain. Go with the plain and add fruit, a tsp or 2 of honey or maple syrup. Mix ½ plain yogurt with half fruit flavoured yogurt. If you are lactose intolerant, try PC plain lactose free yogurt. It tastes like regular yogurt without lactose which can be unsettling to some’s stomach.
Danon peach fruit on the bottom yogurt has a whopping 27 g of sugar. Instead try Oikos organic Greek yogurt that is sweetened with honey. It is actually sweetened with honey and has 17 g of sugar – still higher than adding your own honey however, a better swap than it’s Danon counterpart.
Dannon Light & Fit, however, features fructose on the ingredient list twice, along with Sucralose, aspartame and artificial coloring. If you have to search for any mention of actual fruit on the label of a fruit yogurt, leave it on the shelf!
Another new arrival to the yogurt aisle is Kefir. It has more probiotics than yogurt and is higher in protein than yogurt (not as much as Greek or Biobest).
Kefir is all the rage in the natural health community. Kefir is a fermented drink. It comes in milk and lactose free coconut version and fruit version. It is high in nutrients and probiotics, and is incredibly beneficial for digestion and gut health. It is made by adding kefir “grains” to milk.
Kefir originated from parts of Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. Kefir grains are small rubbery bits that have a gummy bear-like texture and are used to start the fermentation process when making milk kefir. These gummy bear like textured grains are live probiotic bacteria and they are responsible for creating more of the healthy gut bacteria we want.
Probiotics, are gut friendly bacteria that occur naturally in our bodies. These live bacteria help stop the growth of harmful bacteria and boost our immune systems, protecting us from all sorts of germs and illness.
Yogurt is perhaps the most well know source of healthy probiotic bacteria. However, kefir actually contains three times as many probiotics as yogurt making it a virtual goldmine of friendly gut bacteria.
We all know that calcium is essential for bone health and is especially important for women. While most dairy products are known to be good sources of calcium, kefir is no exception.
One cup of kefir contains approximately 20-percent of the recommended daily amount of calcium. Replacing a serving of dairy with a serving of kefir means you’ll get not only calcium but a healthy probiotic bacteria as well.
Kefir is a great low calorie source of protein and 1 cup of whole milk kefir contains about 10 grams of protein and only 100 calories.
Adding a serving of kefir to your morning smoothie recipe and coupling it with your favourite protein powder means a protein-packed breakfast shake that will help keep you fuller for longer. It can also be mixed with yogurt or sour cream.
There is lots of research still underway that looks at the benefits of probiotics. One benefit that gets a lot of buzz is the way healthy bacteria is able to aid with digestion and other gastro-related issues.
Probiotics are often used to treat bloating, cramps, gas, and diarrhea, which can be side-effects of taking antibiotic medications. These medications not only kill the bad, but also the good bacteria in our digestive systems causing things to become a bit unsettled. Getting probiotics from food sources like kefir helps restore the natural digestive balance in our bodies.
The strongest evidence to date finds that probiotics benefits include boosting the immune system. A healthy gut = a healthy body and brain. Probiotics can prevent and treating urinary tract infections, improve digestive function, heal inflammatory bowel conditions like IBS, help to manage eczema and high food-borne illnesses.
Another half of the probiotic equation are prebiotics. They feed the good bacteria and are found in fibrous foods like artichokes, raw garlic and raw dandelion greens (24% fiber)!