To a typical grocery shopper, the dairy cooler can be an overwhelming place filled with misleading labels of “100 calories”, “Low Fat”, and many others meant to confuse the consumer and trick them into thinking they’re choosing healthy items. The reality is, not all yogurt and dairy products are created equal. Without understanding those labels, it can lead to bad decisions when buying yogurt. Recent fads have also played into this confusion, with Greek yogurt being used in advertising campaigns and boasted as a super food. While high in protein, each brand and recipe of yogurt varies widely making the consumer process even more difficult to decipher.
So, how do you get past the smoke filters and figure out the best yogurts for your body? Here are some important points:
Ingredients Are #1
First, it is important to understand what’s in the food you eat. According to recent research, Fox News reports that most commercial yogurts are packed with artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, and high fructose corn syrup; all of which counteract the health benefits. These types of sugars and additives are food for the unhealthy bacteria, yeast, and fungi in your gut. It is true that you need some bacteria (healthy cultures) in your gut to remain healthy; consequently, if the balance of the bacteria within your gut is off, you can get very sick. Secondly, the only yogurt that is regulated by the FDA is regular yogurt, not Greek. Companies can add additional ingredients or change the process in which Greek yogurt is made and still use the label “Greek.” In order to ensure what you are eating is true Greek yogurt, you must read the ingredient label. Avoid added proteins such as “whey concentrates”, or thickeners like “modified corn starch.” The rule of keeping it simple is a great rule to go by when purchasing yogurt. Stay away from flavors, candy pieces, or ingredient labels that are really long. The less ingredients the better; the first two should be milk and active cultures. It is better to flavor your yogurt at home with some fresh fruit or honey. If buying fruit yogurt, be sure to check for added sugar. Cornucopia collected research about ingredients, testing for various brands of yogurt to determine which were the most healthy and best to buy. For more information and help choosing the best yogurt for you, visit Cornucopia Yogurt Buying Guide.
Always remember: When possible, choose USDA certified organic yogurt!
What Are Probiotics & Why Do We Need Them?
More and more products promoting probiotics have entered the market in recent years. Despite the recent upswing in popularity, probiotics have been around for generations, and understanding them can help gain more natural or non-drug ways to maintain health. Probiotics are living microscopic organisms that are most often found in the gut. Most of these organisms are bacteria, but can also be yeast organisms or other types of microbes. Scientists have found many benefits of these bacteria organisms in your body and are still learning exactly how they work. Each type of bacteria has different species and strains, which affect different parts of the body in their own specific ways. The two main probiotic bacterial groups are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Probiotics are most commonly used in digestive issues such as treating irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea (following antibiotic treatment), and prevention/treating vaginal yeast infections and chronic candidiasis.
According to the American Gastroenterological Association, probiotics may help the following:
- Boost your immune system by enhancing the production of antibodies to certain vaccines.
- Produce substances that prevent infection.
- Prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to the gut lining and growing there.
- Send signals to your cells to strengthen the mucus in your intestine and help it act as a barrier against infection.
- Inhibit or destroy toxins released by certain “bad” bacteria that can make you sick.
- Produce B vitamins necessary for metabolizing the food you eat, warding off anemia caused by deficiencies in B6 and B12, and maintaining healthy skin and a healthy nervous system.
Probiotics Naturally Occur In Other Foods Too
In order to get the benefits of probiotics in a natural way there are many foods that pack a solid probiotic punch, including yogurt. The important point to ensure that your yogurt has probiotics is to once again check the ingredient label. The National Yogurt Association has created a “Live & Active Cultures” seal for products that contain significant amounts of L. bulgaricus and S. themophilus probiotics, but not all companies and brands carry these labels. The ingredient list however will have these listed. Please note that if a product has been heat-treated after culturing, the company is required to say so on the label. Both Keifer and raw milk are also great ways to get natural, healthy bacteria in your diet. Make sure that these are traditionally fermented and unpasteurized. Adding these cultured foods to your diet is a great way to keep your digestive tract healthy with good bacteria.
Try These Effective, Supplemental Probiotic Blends
Another great way to reap the probiotic benefits is introducing a supplement such as our very own Diamond Nutritionals’ Probiotic Formula or Ultra Probiotic Formula Packets. Each of these formulas can be stored at room temperature and contain no egg, fish, dairy, shellfish, tree nut, peanut, gluten, coy, corn, or wheat products. These supplements are great for maintaining balance of healthy bacteria in your body. For more information visit our website at mxx20.wpengine.com/shop.
As more and more companies join the already packed shelves boasting “natural” and “healthy” food items, it is even more important to be conscious and vigilant about what exactly is going into our bodies. It is important, rather than joining a popular health fad, that you get the best information possible and make an informed decision. Keep it simple and look for natural, wholesome, non-processed ingredients; milk and live active cultures should be first.
Start on a healthier path today with a simple and delicious addition of yogurt every morning to boost your immune system, promote brain health, and even ward off digestive health issues!
I found this article really helpful! Now I know what yogurts to avoid! I have a question though- is Chobani considered healthy? I have the same question for Danimals.
Thank you for your kind words. I am glad you found my article helpful.
I consider both brands you mention to be healthy ones. Both are a little high in sugar but the other ingredients are fine.
Just as important to note is what is not in them, making these two brands pretty impressive!