Photo credit: JMacPherson, Flickr Creative Commons
Is Yogurt Really That Good for Me?
Yes! Yogurt is a good source of complete protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and vitamin D. An 8-ounce serving of plain low-fat yogurt provides 40 percent of the DRI (daily recommended intake) for calcium, and 50 percent of the DRI for phosphorus, vitamin B12, and riboflavin. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends 3 servings (8 ounces) per day of low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Yogurt and dairy products also contain other vitamins and minerals essential to good health.
- The combination of calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein in yogurt provides a great package for maintaining bone health.
- Calcium, potassium, and magnesium in yogurt help maintain blood pressure, which is important in managing hypertension.
- Research suggests that dairy products are positively associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
All yogurt is made with two types of bacteria (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus) to be legally called yogurt. These bacteria have enzymes that use the lactose in milk, making yogurt a good food for people who have problems digesting lactose. Yogurt bacteria help keep your digestive tract healthy. Additional probiotic bacteria are added to some yogurts to increase the benefits to your digestive and immune systems. These bacteria must be live and active to provide health benefits.
Tip: Yogurt smoothies are a tasty way to replace protein, carbohydrates, and electrolytes after exercise.
What Type of Yogurt Should I Buy?
Minor changes in manufacturing processes and formulations create a variety of products from drinkable to spoonable. Greek yogurt is strained to be thicker, resulting in higher protein and lower lactose per serving than traditional yogurt. When buying probiotic yogurt, look for "active cultures" on the label. Most yogurt is sweetened and flavored and comes in low-fat and fat-free versions. Single-serving yogurt containers are sold in 4-ounce, 6-ounce, and 8-ounce sizes, so check the label when calculating the amount of calcium and other nutrients in your yogurt. Yogurts with non-nutritive sweeteners still contain some carbohydrates from lactose.
Buying plain, unsweetened yogurt allows you the most flexibility for use. It is easier to control sugar and calorie intake when you add sweetener and fruit at home. Many recipes call for plain yogurt. The best yogurt to buy is the one you will eat regularly!
Examine Your Choices
|Food||What I do now||What I plan to buy/change|
|Yogurt||Buy fruit-flavored yogurt||Buy plain, unsweetened yogurt and add my own fruit and sweetener|
|Eat yogurt for breakfast||Use yogurt in a recipe for lunch or supper|
Tarragon Yogurt Chicken Salad
Serving size: Makes 4 servings
- 1¼ cups plain fat-free yogurt
- 1 teaspoon dry tarragon (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3 cups cooked diced chicken (no skin)
- ½ cup minced celery
- ½ cup minced scallions
- 6 cups mixed greens
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, combine yogurt, tarragon, and mustard. Let stand 10 minutes. Add chicken, celery, and scallions and season to taste. Let salad rest 15-20 minutes before serving over greens. Garnish with tomatoes and serve.
Nutritional Facts Per serving: 240 calories, 37 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 4 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 3 g fiber, 200 mg calcium, 80 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium.
For more yogurt recipes, visit the National Dairy Council
National Dairy Council.
USDA National Agricultural Library, USDA Dietary Guidelines.
USDA National Agricultural Library, USDA National Nutrient Database.
Prepared by Kerry E. Kaylegian, dairy foods research and extension associate, Department of Food Science.