Yogurt is loaded with good-for-you properties, like probiotics and calcium (good for gut health and bone density!) and the ability to keep us full for a while (great for weight loss or maintenance!). But a trip down the dairy aisle of your local grocery store can be an overwhelming experience because, well, there are a lot of yogurt options to choose from. And they’re not all exactly healthy.
Nutritionists will be the first to tell you that not all yogurts are created equal. Some will deliver a healthy dose of probiotics, fat and protein, while others are straight-up sugar bombs and deliver next to no health benefits.
To get a clearer picture, we asked dietitians to name the best and worst yogurts at the grocery store. These were their picks.
This yogurt is low in saturated fat, contains no added sugar and is an excellent source of protein, according to Mary Wirtz, a registered dietitian and consultant for Mom Loves Best. She recommends the 0% fat option. “It’s also organic and non-GMO project verified,” she said. “Topping this Greek yogurt with a drizzle of raw honey, berries and slivered almonds is a fantastic protein-rich breakfast to include regularly.”
“This yogurt is very high in saturated fat and also contains 23g of sugar (15g of added sugars) per 1 cup serving,” Wirtz said. “Unfortunately, that is more sugar than five Oreo cookies.”
This yogurt contains 15 grams of protein, 0 grams of added sugar, simple ingredients and is made from the milk of grass-fed cows, making it a great option, according to Tamar Samuels, a registered dietitian and the co-founder of Culina Health. “It has a tart taste, but we love adding toppings like fresh fruit, chopped nuts, raw oats, and one to two teaspoons of honey or all-natural maple syrup for sweetness and texture,” Samuels said.
“This yogurt has around 20 grams of sugar depending on the flavor, and sugar is listed second on the ingredient list,” Samuels said. “This product also has several additives and preservatives, including modified food starch and carrageenan.”
Made without any preservatives or artificial sweeteners or flavors, Fage Greek yogurt is a favorite of registered dietitian Karina Tolentino. She especially loves the 2% Total Split Cup with the fruit separated out on one side (the strawberry flavor is a great option), so you don’t have to add all of it. “It has a smooth and creamy taste that is not tart, gives 12 grams of protein, and is not high in sugar,” she said.
While registered dietitian Stephanie Csaszar loves the idea of non-dairy yogurts, she said you should probably skip the So Delicious Vanilla Coconutmilk Yogurt. “It has next to no protein (less than 1 gram per 3/4-cup serving), only 2 grams of fiber, and too many added sugars at 17 grams ― that’s over 4 teaspoons of sugar!” she said.
Dan Gallagher, a registered dietitian with Aegle Nutrition, said Siggi’s skyr, with a whopping 18 grams of protein and 0 grams of added sugar in the plain option (and just 7 grams of added sugar in the flavored ones) can be a great pick if you’re trying to lose weight. That’s true of even the higher-fat options. “It has a high protein content and low caloric content,” he said. “Icelandic yogurt also tends to contain far less sugar than many Greek yogurts, which means it will be filling and help curb appetite for longer.”
When shopping for yogurt, Gallagher said people should skip the Yoplait Whips. “These yogurts are packed full of calories and sugar and they actually contain a smaller serving of yogurt than the average amount, so they certainly won’t help curb cravings,” he said.
Best: Any Skyr-Style Yogurt
Skyr, which has up to 17 grams of protein and 0 grams of added sugar for plain flavors, is always a great pick, according to Jen Scheinman, registered dietitian and nutrition affairs manager of Timeline Nutrition. And while Siggi’s gets a lot of hype, there are plenty of other skyr-style yogurts out there, including Thor’s Skyr or Icelandic Provisions. “This is a style of yogurt from Iceland, and it’s much higher in protein than regular yogurt and has even more protein than Greek yogurt,” she said.
Scheinman steers clear of the YoCrunch line of yogurts. “They add candy and cookies as toppers to yogurt, turning a highly nutritious food into a dessert,” she said. “There’s little protein and a lot of added sugar in this brand, which takes away from all the great health benefits of yogurt. These yogurts could be part of a healthy diet if used as dessert, but most people I’ve worked with use them instead of a healthier yogurt option for breakfast or snacks.”
If you’re looking for a plant-based yogurt option that’s good for you, registered dietitian Anna Kalfayan suggested Siggi’s plant-based coconut blend, specifically the mixed berry flavor, which has 10 grams of protein and just 7 grams of added sugar. “It’s high in protein and low in added sugar,” she said.
Although delicious, Noosa yogurts are often high in sugar ― the blueberry flavor, for example, has 31 grams of sugar, 18 gram of which are added sugar. “When a yogurt has 20 grams or more of sugar, you have to ask yourself: Is this really necessary?” Kalfayan said.
The Bottom Line
While there’s no question that some yogurts are better for you than others, it’s important to remember that it’s OK to have a little bit of everything in moderation. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re having a healthy meal when you’re really loading up your breakfast bowl with sugar.