Yogurt is a refrigerator staple because it’s so versatile. Whether you like to add a scoop to granola, pair it with fruit, or prefer to go the savory route with a dollop as a sour cream substitute, there are so many types and flavors to create so many dishes. (That’s even the case with non-dairy options!)
While most of us are aware of the fun ways you can use yogurt in recipes, we may not be as familiar with how yogurt can affect us from a health and nutrition level. To that point, eating yogurt can actually have both positive and negative effects that may surprise you. Here are seven, according to registered dietitians. Read on, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
“Certain types of yogurt like Greek yogurt contain a high amount of protein per serving,” says Amber Pankonin, MS, RD, registered dietitian, and owner of the food blog Stirlist. “High protein foods like Greek yogurt can help keep you fuller longer, which might prevent snacking on other high-calorie foods throughout the day.”
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“Some people don’t consume enough calcium each day, and some people may only get a sip of dairy from their morning latte, or avoid dairy products due to a milk allergy, lactose intolerance, personal preference or taste,” says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“One cup of dairy-based yogurt contains 30-45% of the daily value for calcium, which promotes and supports overall bone health. If choosing non-dairy yogurts, be sure to look for options that are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.”
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“Both regular yogurt and Greek yogurt contain a small amount of lactose, which might be problematic for individuals who are lactose intolerant,” says Ehsani. “Lactose is milk sugar which is broken down by the enzyme lactase. If you lack this enzyme, it might cause bloating and gas when you consume dairy foods. If you are lactose intolerant, choose Greek yogurt as this contains less lactose compared to regular yogurt.”
Or, opt for a dairy-free version! “There is good news for those with a lactose intolerance, dairy allergy, or are vegan: there are many varieties of non-dairy yogurts now available to consumers: cashew yogurt, soy yogurt, coconut yogurt, and even oat yogurt,” says Ehsani. (However, these types may not be as high in protein, she notes.)
“It depends on the brand and the portion you select, but if you don’t keep portions in check, this could lead to unwanted weight gain,” says Pankonin. “Some brands can contain a high amount of calories, fat and sugar so be sure to read the nutrition facts label and choose the option with the lowest amount of sugar and the highest amount of protein.”
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“Some yogurts on the shelf contain live and active cultures which are known as probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria for the gut and can help support a healthy digestive tract,” says Ehsani. “However, always check the label, because some yogurts on the shelf don’t contain these cultures. Good news, for those who enjoy non-dairy yogurt alternatives, some varieties also contain live and active cultures too.”
“Yogurt contains nutrients, like protein, and minerals like calcium and potassium which are good for your heart and blood pressure,” says Pankonin. A 2018 study found that higher yogurt intake was associated with lower cardiovascular disease risk.
“Yogurt contains probiotics which are known to help balance the gut microbiome, which does play a role in supporting immune health,” says Pankonin. “Probiotics can help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and might even help with cold prevention according to certain studies.”
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