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How to Pick a Healthy Greek Yogurt

How to Pick a Healthy Greek Yogurt

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Greek yogurt is high in protein and rich in probiotics. It’s also a good source of calcium and potassium. Reach for the wrong Greek yogurt, though, and you’ve got one heck of a sugar bomb, or at least an artificially sweetened, additive-filled carton. Here’s the rundown on how to pick a healthy Greek yogurt, including the four things that matter and three things that don’t on nutrition labels.

What to look for on the label

Ingredient List: Milk, live active cultures and sometimes cream are really all that’s needed to create Greek yogurt. Any other ingredient is included to add sweetness (such as sugar, artificial sweeteners and plant-based sweeteners), flavor (natural or artificial flavors) or thickness (modified food starch, carrageenan, gelatin, pectin).

Added Sugar: Ideally there should be zero added sugars, or close to zero.

Protein: Most traditional-style Greek yogurt brands have 16-20 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving. Look for at least 10-12 grams protein in plant-based alternatives.

Calcium: Most brands range from about 10% to 20% of daily value for calcium (160 to 240 milligrams calcium) per 6-ounce serving.

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What doesn’t matter

Calories: If a yogurt’s ingredient list is minimal and added sugar content is zero or close to it, calories should be in check as well. Calories typically range from 120-130 calories for 6 ounces of 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt, 200 calories for full-fat (whole milk or 4% fat) and 100 calories for nonfat Greek yogurt.

Total Sugar: Total sugar typically ranges from 2 to 6 grams per 6-ounce serving. This sugar is lactose, the naturally occurring milk sugar in yogurt. (If you’re lactose intolerant, know that the probiotics in yogurt serve to naturally digest this lactose.) Unsweetened plant-based options can have less, around a gram or less total sugar.

Saturated Fat: As there’s typically 2 to 2.5 grams per 6-ounce serving of 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt, saturated fat is generally not a concern for most people. The difference in flavor and texture between zero-fat and reduced-fat varieties is striking; most would say those couple grams of fat are worth it.

If you do need to limit your saturated fat intake, however, be aware that Fage full-fat 5% Greek has 5 grams saturated fat, and Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Greek has 10 grams saturated fat per 6-ounce serving, so you may want to avoid those options.

4 Greek yogurt brands I love:

Looking for creative ways to enjoy Greek yogurt? Try these 15 ideas.

Editor’s note: Registered Dietitian Molly Kimball offers brand-name products as a consumer guide; she does not solicit product samples nor is she paid to recommend items. A version of this originally appeared on WGNO’s “FUELED wellness + nutrition with Molly” segment.

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