Choosing a yogurt: which one best suits your needs?
Dr. Brendan Egan, talks through the many forms of yogurt and the factors which distinguish them from one another such as taste, texture, your recipe or your energy needs and fitness goals.
So many options to choose from
The simplicity and versatility of yogurt have made it a popular food for hundreds of years. Given the impressive amounts of most nutrients including protein, healthy fats, probiotics and several vitamins and minerals, it is unsurprising that regular consumption of yogurt has been associated with healthful eating patterns and beneficial effects on health.
In recent times, a number of different forms of yogurt have become more widely available in addition to traditional whole milk natural yogurt. These include flavoured yogurts including granola tops, low fat and fat-free yogurt, high protein strained yogurt, Greek-style yogurt and goat’s milk yogurt. As described in the table below, these varieties often come in a range of pot sizes ranging from small/multi-pot (4x90/100/125 grams) to medium (125/150 grams) to large (450/500 grams), all of which means that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to incorporating yogurt into your diet.
Choosing a yogurt to best suit your needs
Which option is best for you and your needs and goals? We all have different preferences, needs and goals that influence our food choices so for yogurt it is no different.
You may choose a yogurt based purely on texture, whether your desire is for the traditional varieties or the increasingly popular Greek-style yogurts. Greek-style yogurt can be achieved by a process of straining which produces a higher protein yogurt, or by the addition of cream to produce a creamier texture.
The latter process produces a yogurt with a higher fat content and consequently a more calorie-dense yogurt, so this may influence those individuals who are particularly calorie-conscious. However, some research points to health benefits of fat from yogurt consumption, and the reality is that weight gain or loss is determined by the whole diet, not just one food. In fact, in some cases, a higher calorie yogurt-based snack may prove to keep you fuller for longer, and prevent excessive hunger and snacking in between meals.
With several populations including athletes, active adults and elderly requiring higher daily protein intakes, the focus on dietary protein has never been more obvious. While yogurt is rich in high quality protein and essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), the exact quantity varies considerably across the varieties. In other words, to meet a target protein intake, you have to eat a lot more of a yogurt with a lower protein content. Certainly, high protein strained Greek-style yogurt, with as much as 10 grams per 100 grams of yogurt, is the best option for those such as athletes with high daily protein needs.
Yogurt tends to be better tolerated than other dairy products for those who suffer from lactose intolerance because some of the lactose is broken down by the fermentation process. An allergy to cow’s milk protein can be another source of dairy intolerance. However, choosing a goat’s milk yogurt variety can often get around these issues, and allow you to enjoy yogurt without issue.
Plain or flavoured?
Using plain natural yogurt as base, various recipes and or your own ingredient ideas can add great taste and variety to your diet. The latter can include fresh fruits especially berries; nuts and seeds; or others like honey, cinnamon, coconut, cocoa, or granola. Alternatively, a flavoured yogurt may be the simpler option, or serve as a flavoured base for various recipes. Flavoured yogurts are sometimes criticised by virtue of their sugar content. While there is no doubt that such varieties contain more sugar than plain yogurt, it is worth noting that much of this sugar is naturally-occurring in dairy foods and the added fruits, and the quantities of so-called “added” sugar consumed are modest in the context of the whole diet (assuming yogurt is being eaten in sensible amounts).
Small, medium or large?
The choice of pot size is really a question of how you will eat your yogurt. For snacking on-the-go, or for athletes who want a clearly defined amount of protein, the small- and medium-sized pots make excellent sense. Do you want to add a high protein snack to your daily intake? Then simply buy seven medium-sized pots in your weekly shop. Some recipes may call for more than a small- or medium-sized pot, in which case the larger pot size makes sense. Although yogurt should be consumed with three days of opening, the long refrigerated life of yogurt prior to opening makes this an ideal food to have in your fridge for whenever you need a quick meal or snack.
|High Protein Strained Greek Style Natural Yogurt||56 kcal||4.0g||10g||0g||150g, 4 x 100g, 500g|
|High Protein Strained Greek Style Flavoured Yogurt||66 to 78 kcal||8.0g to 10.6g||8.0g to 8.6g||0.0 to 0.3g||150g, 4 x 100g, 500g|
|Organic Whole Natural Yogurt||93 kcal||9.0g||5.6g||3.8g||500g|
|Organic Low Fat Natural Yogurt||75 kcal||8.5g||5.3g||2.2g||4 x 125g, 500g|
|Organic Low Fat Flavoured Yogurt||92 to 96 kcal||15g||4.3g to 4.4g||1.8g to 1.9g||4 x 125g, 450g|
|Organic Fat Free Natural Yogurt||63 kcal||7.2g||7.7g||0.4g||500g|
|Organic Greek-Style Natural Yogurt||138 kcal||6.3g||3.1g||11g||500g|
|Organic Greek-Style Blueberry Yogurt||150 kcal||14g||2.6g||9.2g||450g|
|Goat's Milk Yogurt||74 kcal||6.9g||2.9g||3.9g||4 x 100g, 4 x 90g|