Greek-style yogurt is high in protein and rich in probiotics. It’s also a good source of calcium, and potassium. Reach for the wrong Greek yogurt, though, and you’ve got one heckuva a sugar bomb, or at least an artificially-sweetened, additive-filled carton. Here’s the rundown on what to look for on labels: the four main things that matter, and three things that don’t.
Ingredient List | milk, sometimes cream, and live active cultures is really all that’s needed. Anything more is to add sweetness (sugar, artificial sweeteners acesulfame potassium or sucralose, natural plant-based sweeteners stevia or monkfruit), flavor (natural or artificial flavors) or thickness (modified food starch, carrageenan, gelatin, pectin).
Added Sugar | ideally this is zero, or close to it
Protein | most traditional-style Greek yogurt brands have 16-20 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving. Look for at least 10-12 grams protein in plant-based alternatives.
Calcium | most brands range from about 10-20% of DV for calcium (160 to 240 mg calcium) per 6-ounce serving.
Calories | if ingredients are simple and added sugar is zero or close to it, calories should be in check as well. Calories typically range from 120-130 calories for 6 ounces of 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt, 200 calories for full-fat (whole milk or 4% fat), and 100 calories for nonfat Greek yogurt.
Total Sugar | total sugar typically ranges from 2 to 6 grams per 6-ounce serving; this is lactose, the naturally-occurring milk sugar in yogurt (interesting note for the lactose intolerant: the probiotics in yogurt serve to digest this lactose for us). Unsweetened plant-based options can have less, 0-1 gram total sugar.
Saturated Fat | typically 2 to 2.5 grams per 6-ounce serving of 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt, it’s generally not a concern for most people. And the difference in flavor and texture is striking, and, most would say, worth it. If you need to limit your saturated fat intake, be aware that Fage full-fat 5% Greek has 5 grams saturated fat, and Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Greek has 10 grams saturated fat per 6-ounce serving.
4 Brands I Love:
- Fage 2% milkfat plain Greek yogurt
- Siggi’s 2% milkfat plain Skyr
- Trader Joe’s 2% lowfat plain Greek yogurt
- Vegan option: Kite Hill Protein plain unsweetened plant-based yogurt
Molly Kimball, RD, CSSD is a registered dietitian + nutrition journalist in New Orleans, and founder of Ochsner Eat Fit nonprofit restaurant initiative. Tune in to her podcast, FUELED | Wellness + Nutrition and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @MollyKimballRD.
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