Greek Yogurt: How to navigate the maze of goodness

Greek yogurt has become a staple food for many Americans, and for good reason.  In comparison to regular yogurts, the Greek version generally has more protein and less sugar in addition to its thicker and creamier texture.  It also contains probiotics, which is helpful for intestinal health.

But if you are confused about the wide assortment of Greek yogurts that your supermarket offers you, consider the following chart to help you make your decision.  The table below is a nutritional review of five different popular yogurt brands, using as an example, their nonfat strawberry flavor.  You will see that they are not all created equally and that some offer benefits that their counterpart may not. The contents evaluated include protein, calories, carbohydrates, sugars, and ingredients.

Brand/Size

Protein, grams

Calories

Carbohydrates, grams

Sugars, grams

Ingredients

Chobani Strawberry, 6 oz

14

140

20

19

Cultured pasteurized nonfat milk. live and active cultures: s. thermophilus, l. bulgaricus, l. acidophilus, bifidus and l. casei, Strawberries, evaporated cane juice, pectin, natural flavors, locust bean gum, fruit and vegetable juice concentrate (For color).
Yoplait Strawberry, 6 oz

12

160

26

20

CULTURED PASTUERIZED GRADE A NONFAT MILK, STRAWBERRIES, SUGAR, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CORN STARCH. CONTAINS LESS THAN 1% OF: KOSHER GELATIN, VEGETABLE JUICE (FOR COLOR), NATURAL FLAVOR, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, VITAMIN A ACETATE, VITAMIN D3, (*Meets national yogurt association criteria for live and active culture yogurt)
Fage Strawberry, 5.3 oz

13

120

18

16

GRADE A PASTUERIZED SKIMMED MILK, LIVE ACTIVE YOGURT CULTURES (L. BULGARICUS, S. THERMOPHILUS, L. ACIDOHPILUS, BIFIDUS, L. CASEI). SUGAR, RASPBERRIES, WATER, CORN STARCH, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: NATURAL FLAVOR, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, XANTHAN GUM
Stonyfield Organic Strawberry, 5.3 oz

13

110

16

16

CULTURED PASTEURIZED ORGANIC NONFAT MILK, ORGANIC STRAWBERRIES, ORGANIC SUGAR, PECTIN, ORGANIC NATURAL FLAVOR, ORGANIC ELDERBERRY JUICE CONCENTRATE (FOR COLOR), S. THERMOPHILUS, L. BULGARICUS, L. ACIDOPHILUS, BIFIDUS, AND L. CASEI
Dannon Oikos Strawberry, 5.3 oz

12

120

19

18

CULTURED GRADE A NON FAT MILK, WATER, STRAWBERRY, SUGAR, FRUCTOSE, CONTAINS LESS THAN 1% OF MODIFIED CORN STARTCH, NATURAL FLAVOR, CARRAGEENAN, CARMINE AND BLACK CARROT JUICE OCNCENTRATE (FOR COLOR), SODIUM CITRATE, POTASSIUM SORBATE (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS), MALIC ACID, VITAMIN D(*Contains active yogurt cultures)

*According to the National Yogurt Association, this claim indicates that the yogurt contains the live and active cultures of the living organisms, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptoccuss thermophilus.  This means that the yogurt contains at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture.  For more information, see: http://aboutyogurt.com/index.asp?bid=5

In looking at the table, all five yogurts have about the same amount of protein, ranging from 12 to 14, with Chobani being the highest.  When looking for a sufficient amount of protein, this is a good range to look at.  Protein helps you feel fuller for longer and also helps stabilize blood sugar, which is why Greek yogurt is very appealing for a good snack!

Calories range from 110 to 160, with Stonyfield Organic having the least and Yoplait having the most.  If you are watching your calories, stick to the kind with the lower amounts, but also keep in mind that an appropriate amount of calories for a snack is about 150-200 calories.

Carbohydrates range from 16 to 26 grams in these five yogurts.  If you follow a Diabetes Exchange List, remember that 15 grams of carbohydrates is equal to one exchange, so it is important to choose a yogurt close to this number.

Next comes grams of sugar, which ranges from 16 to 20.  According the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than 100 calories per day (6 teaspoons) of sugar and men 150 (9 teaspoons) per day.  It is important to look for added sugars on the ingredient label and stick to those with a small amount.  All of these yogurts contain some added sugar for taste, but all come out low in comparison to regular yogurt, which may be as high as 30 grams!  Look for words such as “maltose, fructose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, and fruit juice concentrates.” Fage and Stonyfield have the least amount of sugars and Yoplait the most.

Ingredient labels are always important to peruse when making a decision about what products are best for you.  A short ingredient list is always a plus, which indicates that there are wholesome ingredients with fewer additives and processing.  Yogurt needs very few ingredients outside of milk so stick with the ones without all those unnecessary additives.  If this is important to you, stick with a brand like Stonyfield or Chobani.  Many people choose Greek yogurt for the added benefit of probiotics so look for those with the live and active cultures listed on the ingredient label (the more, the better!).

If you are still having a difficult time making a decision, check out the manufacturer’s website.  Often times they will display nutritional information, ingredients, and added benefits.  If they feel their yogurt offers additional benefits, they will want you to read about it!  

By Alyssa Puorro, RD

References:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Sugars-and-Carbohydrates_UCM_303296_Article.jsp

http://aboutyogurt.com/index.asp?bid=5

http://www.oikosyogurt.com/

http://www.stonyfield.com/

http://www.fageusa.com/

http://www.yoplait.com/

http://chobani.com/

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Rss Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>