When looking for a healthy choice for breakfast or a snack, many people turn to yogurt, and for good reasons. The dairy product, which is made through the bacterial fermentation of milk, has numerous benefits for its consumers. According to Jackie Hermanson, a registered dietitian at Advocate Children’s Group Medical Group Pediatrics, yogurt can do wonders for your gut health in particular.
“The most common health benefit that people associate yogurt with is gut health, in relation to the probiotic content of yogurt,” Hermanson says. “Probiotics are live organisms that help increase the diversity of ‘good’ bacteria in our GI tract which in turn can help enhance our immune system by fighting off ‘bad’ bacteria, absorb vital nutrients, promote bowel regularity, and many more. Some studies even show that a healthy gut microbiome can lead to a healthier weight.”
But yogurt doesn’t always lead to a healthy weight—in fact, in some ways it can be ruining your waistline. Check out what to look out for when picking out yogurt at the grocery store, and for more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
It can be packed with sugars.
Similar to so many of the most delicious foods, yogurt, unfortunately, can be loaded with unwanted sugar. While yogurt may seem like the pinnacle of health, many brands have a high sugar content, which can wreak havoc on your waistline, as foods high in sugars can lead to weight gain.
“Yogurt can secretly be packed with unwanted added sugars making a healthy snack not so healthy anymore,” Hermanson says. “Increased added sugars in your diet can add up over time leading to unwanted weight gain, an increase in ‘bad’ gut bacteria and poor dental health.”
Here are 13 Things Cutting Out Added Sugars Does To Your Body.
Watch out for saturated fats.
In addition to added sugars, yogurt can sometimes be jam-packed with saturated fats. When choosing yogurt at the grocery store, look for brands that are lower in fats altogether. Steering away from saturated fats isn’t just good for your waistline, according to Hermanson, but can be good for heart health as well.
“Another pitfall of yogurt can be the saturated fat content, so it’s good to choose a low fat yogurt when consumed regularly,” Hermanson says. “A diet high in saturated fats has been associated with an increased risk for heart disease.”
Here are The Best and Worst Diets for Heart Health.
Flavored yogurt isn’t always the best.
The first step in purchasing yogurt should always be checking the label, but be sure that flavored yogurts are typically going to be worse for your waistline than unflavored yogurt because they regularly contain sugars, artificial flavors and dyes. Corian Yandel, a health coach and owner of Peak Performance Fitness Facility in Racine, Wisconsin, says that many people grab flavored yogurts because they’re an easy thing to eat on-the-go.
“The thing with yogurt is that it can be easy to grab one that already has fruit or other items in it,” Yandel says.
Instead of simply looking for a quick snack, take the time to purchase what will be most nutritious and healthy. Like one of these 50 Best Healthy Snacks to Buy for Weight Loss.
It’s being mixed with the wrong things.
Yogurt flavorings can be a killer when it comes to your waistline, but healthwise, yogurt can also be a hit or a miss even without the sugar-filled flavors. It all depends what you add to it. Items that are too high in sugar, like chocolate chips or some granolas might undo the good that’s being done by choosing plain yogurt in the first place.
Yandel recommends mixing plain yogurt with healthy options like fresh or frozen fruits, nuts, seeds, or a pinch of honey. Or you could even whip up our Homemade Cranberry-Orange Granola Recipe.
You think it’s a healthy frozen treat.
For a long time, frozen yogurt has been looked at as a healthy alternative to ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it’s altogether healthy. Due to the multitude of flavors that frozen yogurt can be served in, it’s typically packed with an excessive amount of added sugar. Adding sugar to the yogurt before it’s frozen even helps it to reach an ice cream-like texture by the time it’s ready to be served.
Frozen yogurt typically also comes with an assortment of toppings, which are rarely health-conscious. For healthier dessert options, check out these 73+ Best Healthy Dessert Recipes.
You’re not looking into plant-based.
It seems that everything is going plant-based currently—even McDonald’s is planning on introducing the “McPlant” in 2021, and there’s a good reason for it. Adopting a vegan diet, or at the very least, eating more vegan foods, including yogurts made from coconut and soy milk, have been proven to have environmental benefits, as well as health benefits, especially for your waistline.
According to Healthline, dairy-free yogurts are lower in fat than traditional yogurt. While they’re good for your waistline, they tend to not contain much calcium, so make sure you’re getting calcium from another source. Try it yourself with one of these 7 Best Dairy-Free Yogurts You Can Buy.