How to choose the right Yoghurt

How to choose the right Yoghurt

When yoghurt first became popular, it was the height of health food and even now it remains one of the most valuable quick snack foods to add to your diet. 

It is very high in calcium to support bone growth and supplies your body will valuable B vitamins, specifically folic acid and B12 which are essential for a healthy blood supply.

Some yoghurts also contain ‘friendly bacteria’ which help keep your gut in order.

Beware though - as the market has grown, the number of yoghurts containing hidden sugars and high levels of fat has increased. Be choosy when picking your next pot. 

All you need to know about yoghurt bacteria

Almost all yoghurt bought from the chiller cabinets in the supermarket are ‘live’ which means they contain living, growing bacterial cultures. Different types of cultures have different impacts on our health and different possible health benefits.

Standard culture yoghurts contain lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophiles, with different strains included depending upon the mildness of the yoghurt in question. These bacteria don’t have any direct positive impact on the gut but some research suggests that they can stimulate ‘friendly bacteria’ and help maintain a general health.

Bio culture yoghurts are usually cultured with bifidobacteria and lactobacillus acidophilus or other related strains. They have more potential to impact your health positively and they actually contain the ‘friendly bacteria’ your gut needs to remain healthy. Bio yoghurts are recommended for a number of health complaints too, including thrush and urinary infections.

Choosing your Yoghurt

Below is a closer look at the main types of yoghurt you may find on your supermarket shelf, their potential health benefits and any hidden nasties.

Natural Yoghurt

The purest and least modified yoghurt there is. Made through the fermentation of pasteurised milk, it has an acidic, thick flavour. The fat content depends on the milk used. Low-fat natural yoghurts tend to have just 2% fat or less. Natural yoghurt has the highest calcium levels of all types out there and 150g contains over a third of your recommended daily allowance.

Low-Fat Fruit Yoghurt

Marketed as low-fat, this type of yoghurt tends to have around 50% more calories than your regular natural yoghurt and there is around two teaspoons of sugar per 150g pot. There are some positives though – it only raises blood sugar levels slowly so can help to keep hunger pangs at bay more successfully than biscuits or sweets.

Diet Fruit Yoghurt

Most diet fruit yoghurts are made using skimmed milk and sweeteners which account for the low calorie count. This also means the yoghurt is also lower in calcium and is also the most likely to be packed full of chemicals and additives.

Greek Yoghurt

Creamy and ever so tempting, Greek yoghurt is wonderful enjoyed in many different ways but it is much higher in fat than most other yoghurts out there. 150g of Greek Yoghurt provides 50% of the daily intake of saturated fats for women, so it’s one to be careful with. Despite the negatives, Greek yoghurt is a great source of vitamin A, more so than any other yoghurt type.

There are of course many other types of yoghurt on the market: soya yoghurts, great if you have a lactose intolerance or allergy; and coconut yoghurts, made wholly from coconuts, which have a great nutritional content.

There are plenty of options out there so it's not hard to avoid those yoghurts packed with additives, sugars and other nasties. 

The Author

Jessica Ward

Jessica lives in South West London. Boxercise, yoga, pilates, weight training and long distance running are her main interests.


Phillip H.
26 August 2015

Phillip H. the article says, low or no fat means much more sugar. Fat-reduced versions of foods have to have sugar added or they taste really bad.

Tanya M.
24 August 2015

Tanya M.

We always buy fat free natural yoghurt because then we can add in what we want - if we want fruit, we can add natural fruit, if we want sweetness there's honey - simplest way to ensure you're getting a bit of what you like with none of the nasty chemicals.

Sarah L.
21 August 2015

Sarah L.

Greek style is NOT greek yogurt - once you've eaten the real stuff you never go back! Useful explanation of the difference between the two types of live culture, thank you!

Matthew C.
15 August 2015

Matthew C.

Olivia, that's really interesting about greek yoghurt liquid. I had never heard that before. Surely they could use it for some other culinary use...

Olivia C.
14 August 2015

Olivia C.

I love yoghurt, but I learned a random fact the other day that the liquid strained off yoghurt to make it "Greek style" is pumped into rivers and it's creating an environmental disaster.

Emma C.
14 August 2015

Emma C.

We tend to buy 'greek style' yoghurts. I wonder how the fat content compares to standard greek yoghurt. Hopefully not too much fat as I love it!

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