By Heide Kennedy, Arizona Farm Bureau Communications Intern
We all know how important it is to pay attention to the nutrition labels on the packages of foods that we buy. This little piece of information can actually tell us a lot about the healthfulness of that product by giving us the full nutritional breakdown of that food as well as alerting us to any hidden or not-so-desirable ingredients.
We’ve all been told to never judge a book by its cover. This truth applies to many different things, food products included. While they may be promoted as healthy, or appear to be healthy, that isn’t always the case. One such product is yogurt, which is often touted as being a great source of gut-healthy probiotics. This can be true, but only in certain kinds of yogurts. Registered dietician nutritionist Kelly Plowe breaks down what you should be looking for when selecting yogurts in order to ensure that you’re getting a nutritious, probiotic-filled yogurt.
There is no shortage of options when it comes to yogurt, and choosing the best option ultimately comes down to two criteria:
- Sugar content
Many kinds of yogurt are chock full of added sugar. The main culprits are typically pre-flavored yogurts or bottled yogurt drinks. While these may taste delicious, they are certainly not a healthy choice. Plowe even notes that the yogurts that are labeled as sugar-free, low-sugar, or light, are often filled with artificial sugars, which she says are not good for your gut health. So, choose yogurts that are plain and unsweetened to get the most nutrition out of your yogurt. If you’re not a fan of the slightly bitter taste of plain yogurt, my favorite thing to do is add a little bit of honey or fresh or dried fruit for just that hint of sweetness.
- Probiotic content
The probiotics in yogurt are the gut healthy bacteria that come from the yogurt fermentation process. According to the Food and Drug Administration, in order to be classified as yogurt, a product has to have at least these two strains of bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Yogurts can have more strains of bacteria as well. Plowe says that when shopping for yogurts, look at the labels and see how many CFU’s (colony-forming units) of each kind of bacteria it contains. The more probiotics, the better!
Yogurt can be a great source of healthy fats, protein, and beneficial bacteria, as long as you select your yogurt wisely! So, keep these tips in mind next time you’re out grocery shopping.
For more health-related articles, check out the Fill Your Plate blog!