With all the competing information about what is and isn’t good for us, it’s easy to get confused about what to eat.

Yogurt is a healthy choice when the hunger pangs strike, but even that can be loaded with sugar and extra calories. Registered dietitian Tina Hreso (pronounced Her-RESS-o) at Novant Health Bariatric Solutions in Charlotte offered some helpful advice next time you’re standing in front of a cooler full of yogurt options at the grocery store.

One of the first things to consider is how much sugar it contains.

“Yogurt naturally contains the milk sugar lactose, however food companies add sugar to create a sweet flavor,” Hreso said. “In addition, sugar sweetened fruits are added to the bottom and toppings are attached which increases sugar content. Therefore, yogurt starts as a healthy food choice but then too much sugar is added, which degrades the nutritional quality.”

Read the label

  • Make unflavored yogurt more appealing by adding fresh fruit or nuts.
  • If you like flavored yogurt, choose one with less than 10 grams of sugar.
  • Yogurt with alternative sweeteners such as stevia and sucralose can reduce the amount of sugar you consume.
  • Choose Greek yogurt if you want a snack that packs a punch. It has twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt.
  • Cut down on saturated fat by buying low-fat or nonfat yogurt.
  • Try to avoid yogurt with toppings or fruit on the bottom.

Make eating healthy and feeling great lifelong habits

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What is yogurt?

Yogurt has been made the same way for centuries. Hreso explained the process.

“We have to mention the healthy probiotics in yogurt, which is how yogurt is made,” she said. “Milk is pasteurized, which means it is heated to a high temperature to kill off harmful bacteria. Then milk is cooled and healthy bacteria called probiotics are added. The milk undergoes a fermentation process where the probiotics eat the lactose and create lactic acid. The result is a product that contains less lactose and has a tart flavor with a thick, creamy texture.”

Why should we eat it?

One of the best times to eat yogurt is after a round of antibiotics. Hreso said the probiotics in yogurt can help replace the good gut bacteria that antibiotics kill. It also contains:

  • protein
  • calcium
  • vitamin D
  • B vitamins
  • phosphorous
  • riboflavin
  • potassium

Hreso also suggests kefir as a yogurt alternative. It’s a liquid that most people choose to drink. It’s made in a similar way, but kefir has more protein and more probiotics.