Yo’ Gurt…what yogurt should I eat?

My friend Katie asked for a post on the best options for yogurt…so here we go.  In preparing for this post I took a trip to my local No-Frills grocery store and was amazed when I actually investigated the number of yogurts available on the market.  Non fat, low-fat, Greek, probiotic, no sugar, drinkable, added plant sterols, etc.

Actually, while I as researching I noticed two women looking bewildered (3 including me!) and when I asked them what they were going to purchase one said “whatever is on sale” and the other said “I never know”.

The first question I would ask you is why are you eating yogurt – what is your objective?

An easy snack?

Are you looking for calcium?


All three of the above?

Let’s examine the different attributes.


You would be right in guessing I would recommend zero sugar added yogurt, however, I would rather you have a higher calorie sugar yogurt than a low-fat version that is synthetically sweetened.

Why is lower or no sugar better?  Too much sugar can lead to problems with blood sugar control.  Additionally, sugar contributes greatly to obesity, and cancer causing free radicals.  In order to keep free radicals to a minimum, our body should be slightly more alkaline than acidic.  If we’re too acidic, calcium will be drawn from our bones and make the blood more alkaline.  Since sugar causes acidity, you would be doing yourself a disservice to eat sugary yogurt because the calcium in your body will be used to maintain an alkaline state rather than building up calcium stores.

What’s up with synthetic sweeteners?  Aspartame, sorbitol, isomalt, maltitol, mannitol, and xylitol (all synthetic) are quite controversial because of the surrounding evidence that they are carcinogenic and perhaps disturbing to your brain and nervous system especially with children.  The fact is, they are manufactured and since they’re not real food why but it in your body?

TAKEAWAY:  Choose a plain, unsweetened yogurt.  Add a 1/2 cup of berries to sweeten…or if you must, a small tsp of maple syrup or honey.  While maple syrup and honey contain sugar, if you get an organic and/or unrefined version you’ll be getting more nutrients than plain old table sugar which is 100% empty calories.

Organic Plain Yogurt


Here is a break down of the total number of milligrams of calcium required per day:

1 – 3 years old:  700 mg

4-8 years old:  1000 mg

9-18 years old:  1300 mg

19-50  years old: 1000 mg

Older adults:  1200 mg

Calcium works with various other minerals and vitamins to help build strong bones and teeth.  You can’t absorb Calcium properly without Vitamin D so make sure you’re getting at least 400 IU’s a day of Vit D.

In general, regular yogurt has 150 mg’s of calcium per 1/2 cup and Greek Yogurt has 120 mg’s per half cup (the later looses some calcium because of the straining process).

TAKEAWAY:  Yogurt is a great way to get calcium and if you’re objective is calcium consumption, go for a non-greek yogurt version.

Super Mineral Calcium


In the past few years, Greek Yogurt has danced on to the stage in a Tony Award winning performance – and deservedly so in my opinion.  What makes Greek Yogurt difference is that it’s got a nice creamy thick texture and a boat load of protein compared to regular yogurt.  In fact, 1/2 cup of Greek Yogurt has about 13 grams of protein compared to regular yogurt which has only 2.5 grams.  It’s also very low in fat.

How many grams of protein do we need a day?

Weight in Pounds x 0.8 = # of grams of PRO per day.

TAKEAWAY:  I’m a fan of Greek yogurt especially for the maintenance, repair, recovery of muscles.  Just make sure it’s plain…the flavoured versions are full of sugar.

Plant Sterols & Probiotics

Plant Sterols are found in…as you guessed it plants.  They are relatively new on the nutrition scene but there is a lot of optimism surround them because they’re known to lower LDL Cholesterol (bad cholesterol).  LDL compounds move cholesterol from the liver to the cells where in excess (due to poor diet, lack of exercise etc – see The Health Junction’s prior post) it can cause cellular damage.  Up to 3 grams of plant sterols are recommended by Health Canada.

Probiotics are present in our colon and help maintain a balance between good and bad bacteria.  Eating a poor diet which is high in sugar, alchohol, booze, meat, and yes…even dairy and degrade the quality and quanity of probiotics in our system leading to dysbiosis – or an imbalance in our microflora.  They are helpful in supporting a healthy immune system and act as a natural antibiotic.  Sure, eating a yogurt with probiotics is helpful in maintaing a healthy gut and colon, however, if it has sugar in it you’re back to square one.  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on probiotics to learn more about what they can do for your health.

TAKEAWAY:  Sure, give these a try!  The product below has both probiotics and plant sterols.  It does have sugar – 6 grams per 1/2 cup which isn’t horrible.

BioBest Plain Yogurt



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