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Choose the Best Yogurt for You and Your Family

There are few aisles more confusing in the supermarket than the yogurt aisle.

TEXARKANA, Ark. –

There are few aisles as confusing in the supermarket as the yogurt aisle. There are so many choices and options. Organic, Greek, drinkable, fruit flavored, original, light, and the nutrition and pricing can be just is just as confusing as all the choices.

Yogurt belongs to the dairy products category in MyPlate and is manufactured by the bacterial fermentation of milk. The most commonly used milk type for yogurt is cow’s milk.

Yogurt can even be a part of those individual’s diets that have difficulty digesting milk. People who are lactose intolerant have a hard time digesting milk products because they lack the enzyme lactase that breaks down the main carbohydrate in milk. Yogurt is a unique dairy food because the starter cultures actually produce lactase during fermentation. Thus, the milk sugar in

yogurt is more easily digested, even for lactose intolerant individuals. Many people who commonly experience gas, bloating or discomfort from dairy foods are able to digest yogurt more easily, thanks to the starter cultures. This is especially true if the yogurt contains live cultures.

Which is best for you, Greek or regular? Here is the difference. Greek style yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt. In fact, according to the USDA database, 7 ounces of plain Greek yogurt has almost 3 times more protein than its regular yogurt counterpart of the same size.

Greek yogurt is made by straining out the extra whey in regular yogurt. The yogurt is thicker, creamier and tangier than regular yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt has less sugar and more protein than regular yogurt. It also tends to be more expensive than regular yogurt, because more milk goes into making each cup. Plain Greek yogurt is going to be healthier than flavored. Flavored varieties add unnecessary sugar; some have 7 teaspoons of added sugar. Instead, if you’re craving a little sweetness, add fresh fruit or a teaspoon or two of honey or maple syrup to your yogurt.

No doubt, one of the confusing aspects of yogurt choices are the options for probiotics. To make an informed decision you have to know what they are. Probiotics, are live microorganisms similar to those in your gut. Yogurt is made from milk, with a dash of bacteria to kick off the fermenting process. In order to be officially considered yogurt, it has to have one of two specific types of bacteria, Streptococcus thermophilus or Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

There is some evidence that probiotics, like those found in yogurt, can help prevent or treat some digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome and certain types of diarrhea, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Although some studies are finding this promising it is important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any probiotics for preventing or treating any health problem. Seeking medical advice would be the best option when it comes to probiotics since there are uncertainties about the safety of probiotics.

What about organic. Is organic yogurt healthier? Organic yogurt may not be more nutritious, and in terms of taste, it’s virtually the same as regular yogurt. According to the USDA, what you get from organic dairy products is the knowledge that no growth hormones or antibiotics were used on the animals that produced the dairy. However, in dairy operations, when a dairy cow is treated with antibiotics, farmers follow strict Federal guidelines on how long they must discard her milk in order to prevent drug residues in milk.   

The US has the safest food supply in the world. Dairy farmers earn their living by selling milk. When milk is discarded, they lose money.

The milk truck driver tests milk from every tank before it leaves the farm. If there is any antibiotic residue found, the tanks at the dairy and the tanker truck with the milk is dumped.

A sample from every milk tanker is again tested at the processing plant before the milk is unloaded. Specific steps are used before sampling, like stirring the milk, to ensure that each sample best represents the milk in that tank. Milk that has antibiotics is discarded. That is 7,000 to 8,000 gallons of milk the dairy farmer will not be paid for, so the dairy farmers have a stake in making sure that their product is antibiotic free.

There are numerous choices at the dairy case when it comes to yogurt. Choose the type that best serves you and your family.  

For a chart with nutritional comparisons of the different types of yogurt, click Let's Eat Some Yogurt and How Well Do You Know Your Yogurt chart, or contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. You can also find it online at cdue@uaex.edu, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at uaex.edu/Miller.

By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609
cdue@uaex.edu

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