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When it comes to making a nutritious, richly-flavored yogurt, only three ingredients are essential. But the ingredient lists on yogurt can get cluttered quickly – some of the ingredients aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re not really needed.  others, however, are best avoided altogether.  Molly has an up-close look at the labels including what to reach for and what to steer clear of.

Frame of Reference:

  • Fage 2% lowfat Greek yogurt is made with 3 simple ingredients:  milk, cream, live active cultures.
  • Bellwether Farms Sheep Milk yogurt is made with pasteurized sheep milk and live active cultures


  • Look for options that contain more protein than sugar, at the very least.
  • Reach for yogurts that are as close to zero added sugar as possible.
  • The fewer the ingredients, the better.


Thickeners + Stabilizers => Neutral

  • Gums that are common in yogurt include xanthan gum and gellan gum (both derived from carbohydrates that are fermented by bacteria), guar gum (from a pea plant native to India and Pakistan), locust bean gum (from locust bean plants), as well as pectin and agar.

“These gums are carbohydrates that are used to thicken and stabilize these products. They’re all-natural compounds that we extract from nature, and in the big picture of things, it’s such a small amount of gums that are used in these products that they do not pose a significant health risk,” explains Darryl Holliday, assistant professor of food science at The University of Holy Cross.

  • Starches, such as tapioca starch, rice starch, corn starch and maltodextrin.  These starches are harmless, but add unnecessary refined carbohydrates to yogurt.

Plant-Based Natural Sweeteners – Greenlight

My personal preference is natural, plain unflavored yogurt and add our own flavoring or fruits if desired. But if you’re looking for a yogurt with some built-in sweetness, look for options sweetened with stevia, monkfruit or erythritol.

Sugary Sweeteners – Not Desirable

Added sugars go by many different names, including organic agave nectar, organic cane sugar, cane sugar, brown cane sugar, honey… but they’re all still just added sugar with no real nutritional benefit in yogurt, and can quickly max out our upper limit for sugar for the day.

Artificial Sweeteners – Steer Clear

Synthetic sweeteners acesulfame potassium & sucralose are the two most common found in yogurt these days.


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