There are soooooo many yogurt options out there and you might be wondering how to navigate that section of the dairy aisle like a PFC pro. Questions like “What kind of yogurt should I buy?” “Should I make sure it’s Greek?” “What should I be looking for on the labels?” “How does it fit into PFC?" are common and we’re here to help you navigate and prioritize your shopping list! Let’s cover all of these topics.
Here Are Your Yogurt Priorities (Prioritized):
1. Plain yogurt—no added flavorings! (Not even vanilla, honey or maple!) Plain will contain less sugar, and you want to find one with the lowest amount of sugar possible. There will naturally be several grams of sugar in yogurt because of the lactose (milk sugar) that’s present, but if you compare a plain yogurt and a flavored one side by side, you’ll be astonished at the difference. There’s a reason why yogurts called “Key Lime Pie”, “Pumpkin Cheesecake”, and “Chocolate Cherry Cupcake” taste like desserts and not yogurt…it’s because they contain almost as much sugar as those real desserts do!
2. Highest amount of fat possible—if worse comes to worst, you can get a plain low-fat (or fat-free if worse REALLY comes to worst) yogurt and add fat by mixing in a couple tablespoons of heavy cream or sprinkling sunflower seeds on top. Remember you CAN’T remove sugar, and you CAN add fat. Therefore, finding a yogurt that has the lowest amount of sugar is a higher priority than finding one with the highest amount of fat.
3. Organic—this is especially important when it comes to dairy products because 60-80 percent of estrogens consumed in the diet come from dairy, and there is a potential link between dietary hormone consumption and certain kinds of cancer. Dairy that comes from conventional farms where cows are milked excessively contain much more estrogen than cows that are milked traditionally without the use of hormones to keep their milk coming. And, since hormones are concentrated in fat, and we’re aiming for full-fat yogurt, buying organic is even more important. Aside from the hormone factor, organic cows are fed non-GMO grain, have access to pasture, and have much higher standards of living than conventional cows. When you buy organic, you’re telling the store that you want to support farms who follow good practices.
Bottom line, you’re looking for plain, full fat (or whole milk), and organic. Here are seven yogurts that meet this criteria (but beware—all of these brands make flavored yogurt options as well so you want to look for it labeled exactly as it is listed here):
- Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Plain Yogurt
- Nancy’s Whole Milk Yogurt— Plain, Organic
- Brown Cow Plain Cream Top Yogurt
- Maple Hill Creamery: Plain Creamline Yogurt (all their yogurts are full fat)
- Traders Point Creamery—European Style Whole Milk Yogurt
- Kalona Supernatural—Organic Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt
- Trader Joe’s European Style—Organic, Plain Whole Milk Yogurt
Yogurt’s great, if you can tolerate!
Now, if you’re consuming yogurt on a regular basis, I want to be sure to remind you that you should only be eating yogurt if you aren’t sensitive to dairy! Just because dairy products don’t cause you to run to the bathroom doesn’t mean you’re not sensitive to them. We’ve had plenty of clients hit a roadblock in reaching their goal (whether it be weight loss, getting rid of their acne, sinus congestion, migraines, etc.) only to find that consuming dairy products was the culprit. Many people don’t realize dairy is a problem for them until they cut it out for a few weeks. For more on this, read our post, Is Dairy Free Right For Me?
Also remember, you don’t need dairy. You can get plenty of calcium and be just as healthy, if not healthier without it. Foods like broccoli, almonds, salmon, kale and figs all contain calcium that is easily absorbed into your body.
Should I make sure it’s Greek?
Greek yogurt is made by straining yogurt which removes the watery whey, leaving you with a more solid, rich product, traditionally higher in protein (mostly casein) and lower in sugar. However, this isn’t true for all Greek yogurts: some are lower in protein than non-Greek versions and lots of them add sugar for flavor, hardly making them more nutritious than a candy bar. Greek yogurt is fine, as long as it meets the top three criteria as outlined above.
Yogurt contains Protein, Fat, AND Carbs. So how does it fit into PFC?
Well, it depends. Let’s look at each individual category:
P: Protein content differs greatly among yogurts, and in general, we say a minimum of 20 grams at a meal and half that at snacks. If your yogurt doesn’t meet these requirements, then simply add in a full (or half) scoop of my favorite Pure Primal Protein powder.
F: If you’re able to find a full fat yogurt, then you’ve got your F covered! Like I mentioned above, if it’s low-fat or fat-free, you can make up for the difference by adding 1-2 T. of heavy cream, sunflower seeds, walnuts, or the fat choice of your liking.
C: I love topping mine with berries! I usually add a little less (half of the usual amount) since yogurt does naturally contain carbohydrates from the milk sugar. Usually we recommend a half cup of starchy veggies or fruit at snacks, so maybe add a quarter cup when you’re having yogurt. I also love mixing in Dynamic Fruits & Greens for extra antioxidants AND flavor, since plain yogurt can be a little tart if you’re not used to it.
So there you have it. That’s the scoop on yogurt!