When looking for a light and healthy snack packed with nutrition, yogurt can be a great option. Depending on the yogurt you choose, you can fuel your body with calcium, probiotics, and protein. But there are different types of yogurt to consider before staying true to your favorite brand, and some yogurts are much healthier than others.
Here’s a look at types of yogurt to try and how to choose a healthy style of yogurt next time you go grocery shopping.
Cow’s Milk Yogurt
Traditional yogurt is made from cow’s milk and contains cultures to give it a sour, tangy flavor. It is made by heating milk and then cooling it and mixing in bacterial cultures. This yogurt is smooth and creamy but thick enough to eat with a spoon. It is also possible to make yogurt from sheep’s milk and goat’s milk.
Greek yogurt is thicker than traditional yogurt and has a stronger flavor. After it is fermented, it is strained to eliminate the whey liquid and make it thicker. Greek yogurt can be used to make healthier substitutions for sauces in savory dishes.
Kefir is a type of yogurt made from fermented milk but less thick and tangy. To ferment the milk, it is made with clusters of microbes called kefir grains. Kefir offers many health benefits, and some people consume it to help control their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
People who have an intolerance or sensitivity to lactose may choose lactose-free yogurt so that they can eat it without stomach upset. It is made with the enzyme lactase to break lactose down into simple sugars that can be digested easier than lactose.
You can also make yogurt from plant-based milk, such as soy, oat, almond, or cashew milk. These yogurts have bacterial starter cultures to ferment the non-dairy milk but combine other ingredients to make the texture more yogurt-like. If your dairy-free yogurt is heat-treated, the live bacteria die and so do the probiotic benefits.
You’ll find that Icelandic yogurt is mildly tangier and even thicker than Greek yogurt. It is also called Skyr and goes through a process in which curds form. Heirloom Icelandic bacterial cultures are used to make it. Some people argue that it is actually cheese rather than yogurt because of this.
Another option is to try French yogurt, which is cultured in individual containers that it is sold in rather than a large vat and separated later. It is an unstrained yogurt that is smooth and creamy but not as sweet as some other types.
Australian yogurt is an unstrained yogurt that is cooked slowly and longer than traditional yogurt. This process gives it a creamy texture but not quite as thick as Greek yogurt.
The Healthiest Types of Yogurt
For the most health benefits, choose yogurts that have live and active cultures, also known as probiotics, to promote digestive health. Kefir contains more probiotics than any other type of yogurt, making it a healthy choice if you are looking to improve your gut health. Greek yogurt is a healthy yogurt because of its superior protein content. Eating Greek yogurt can help you stay feeling full for longer and give you a protein boost without eating meat.
Otherwise, choose plain yogurts with no added flavorings, colors, sugars, or artificial ingredients. Yogurts can be fat-free and low-calorie if you are watching your weight, and some can be organic yogurts if they are made with milk from cows fed from organic, non-GMO feed.
Learn more about the health benefits of yogurt and healthy recipes to try on the Seagate blog.