Yogurt is a long-time breakfast staple in countries all over the world. When you eat the type of yogurt that is best suited for your body it is also a delicious and convenient way to easily invest in your overall health. There are two truths about yogurt that you must know before making your way to the dairy case:
Yogurt helps build good gut health.
The fermentation process that milk goes through to become yogurt creates good bacteria that helps destroy any bad bacteria that may be hiding in our digestive tract. The good bacteria in yogurt is similar to the good bacteria found in probiotics. As we eat fermented foods and/or take probiotics to build the stock of good bacteria in our gut, we are also strengthening our immune system.
The second truth is an unfortunate one:
The yogurt aisle can be a scary place.
This is where artificial food dyes, artificial sweeteners, and lots and lots of sugar hide. The average flavored yogurt has around 27g of sugar. That’s 2 Tbsp. of sugar in just one serving!
When you find yourself in the yogurt aisle with thousands of little containers staring at you, take a deep breath and remember these tips:
Be sure to read the labels on plain yogurt containers, too. Deceivingly enough, some plain yogurts actually have more sugar than flavored yogurts do.
Avoid low-fat yogurt.
Fat = flavor, so when the fat is taken out or is reduced, the flavor has to be replaced with sugar or, in most cases, artificial sweetener.
Try yogurts made from various types of milk.
Cow’s milk is one of the most common food allergens. It can cause acne, bloating, ear infections, sinus problems, and a host of other issues if it doesn’t agree with your biochemistry. The following options tend to be gentler on the system for many people:
- Goat’s milk yogurt
- Sheep’s milk yogurt
- Almond milk yogurt
- Cultured coconut milk
How to pick (and enjoy) the best yogurt:
Check the sugar content of your favorite yogurt. If it’s under 10g per serving, you will probably not experience a huge spike in blood sugar when you eat it and will likely skip the always-following crash. If your favorite contains more than 9g, see if they make an unsweetened version.
Look for artificial food coloring, which appears on labels as “Red No. 40”, “Yellow No. 5” or “Tartrazine”, “Yellow No. 6”, and “Blue No. 1”. Artificial food dye is derived from petroleum. All artificial food dyes have been banned in many countries (not including the USA) and products that contain them in European countries are required to have this warning label: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
Check for artificial sweeteners, which are most commonly listed on labels as “aspartame”, “sucralose”, and “saccharin”. These chemicals are neurotoxins that over-stimulate neuron receptors.
Try unsweetened yogurt because it is just that, yogurt with no sweeteners added (real or artificial). If you are used to sweetened yogurt, the unsweetened kind can come as quite a shock if eaten by itself, so here are some healthful ways dress up unsweetened yogurt:
- Add some sliced or pureed fresh fruit
- Thaw some frozen fruit and stir it and its juices in
- Add a drizzle of natural sweetener, like maple syrup, honey. (These sweeteners won’t cause as drastic of blood sugar spikes/crashes as refined sugar does.)
- Stir in a tablespoon of nut butter
- Top your yogurt with granola
- Add yogurt to a smoothie with fruit and greens
Enjoy your mindfully chosen yogurt in peace knowing that you are boosting the good bacteria in your body in the healthiest way possible!
Tell me: What’s your favorite yogurt?