It provides essential nutrients, such as high-quality protein, calcium, and potassium—though Greek yogurt is typically higher in protein and an overall better choice. It also contains live cultures, or probiotics, that can have a number of health benefits, including regulating digestion and boosting your immune system.
It’s not just a breakfast option, either. Its ratio of protein to carbs make Greek yogurt an excellent post-workout snack as well. A recent scientific review even found that yogurt consumption is associated with a lower body mass index, lower bodyweight, smaller waist circumference, and lower overall body fat. People who consume yogurt tend to gain less weight over time, too.
But what about the full-fat vs. low-fat debate? The answer isn’t as clear as you’d expect. Low-fat options are better if you’re trying to watch calories or cut weight, but there’s a good amount of research that suggests full-fat dairy is more satiating, so you might be less inclined to reach for sugary, high-carb foods (which can prevent overeating). In a 2013 review, 11 of the 16 studies included found that participants who consumed more high-fat dairy products either weighed less or gained less weight over time than those who consumed low-fat dairy products.
Our recommendation: Focus on finding low-sugar options than stressing over fat content.
There are loads of brands sprouting up in the refrigerated section, but some (i.e. flavored yogurts) can actually overload your body with sugar. So how do you pick out a healthy Greek yogurt? Try these general rules, per 6oz serving:
- Calories: 100 to 150
- Fat: 4 grams or less
- Saturated fat: 4 grams or less
- Protein: at least 10 grams
- Sugar: 10 grams or less (dairy has a naturally occurring sugar source called lactose)
When sorting your way through the grocery store, avoid sugar-laden options (no fruit-at-the-bottom or mix-in varieties) and opt for any of these 10 Greek yogurts.
Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the coordinator of nutrition and team sports dietitian for the San Francisco 49ers.