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06/12/15

Is The Yogurt Aisle All Greek To You?

When's the last time you visited the yogurt section of your local grocery store? It can be hard to know what to look for – there are so many varieties of yogurt to choose from! Should you pick Greek or regular yogurt? Can you still enjoy yogurt if you're lactose intolerant?

Here's the scoop on all things yogurt:

How Is It Made?
All yogurt is made the same way: add cultures to pasteurized milk. The resulting bacteria in turn causes the milk to gain a creamy consistency. Different types of milk (skim, low-fat or full fat) result in different varieties of yogurt. You can also use any type of milk – cow, goat, and even non-dairy milks like almond or soy. The yogurt can then be strained to remove whey and lactose to make Greek yogurt.

What Are Probiotics?
All types of yogurt contain the friendly bacteria known as probiotics. Our digestive system is full of bacteria – some beneficial, some not. Probiotics help restore the balance in your system, assisting in digesting food, fighting off illness, and boosting our immune system. You can also find probiotics in other fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and tempeh.

Does Yogurt Have Nutrients?
Yogurt is packed with nutrients like protein, calcium, and sometimes vitamin D. Depending on the flavor, it may also provide other vitamins and minerals. The lack of whey in Greek yogurt causes it to contain less calcium and more protein than regular yogurt.

Flavored yogurts usually contain added sugar. Milk naturally contains sugar in the form of lactose, so it can be hard to decipher how much of the sugar was added. Compare the flavored yogurt to a plain version. Every 6 oz of regular yogurt has about 12 grams of naturally occurring sugar; the same quantity of Greek yogurt has about 6 grams. Anything above these levels is either added sugar or possibly comes from fruit. Opt for the yogurt with the least amount of added sugar that you still find tasty!

What If I'm Lactose Intolerant?
Yogurt contains less lactose than most other milk products, so you might still be able to eat it. If you can't stomach it, look for non-dairy alternatives made from soy, coconut or almond. Dairy-free yogurts typically provide the same benefits as regular yogurt. Compare labels to make sure you're getting all the benefits and nutrients that yogurt has to offer.

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