April 13, 2010

I was staying at a friend’s house recently and she showed me her new favorite snack—the Greek Gods honey yogurt. It was rich and creamy alright, but it packed in 250 calories plus half the saturated fat that she needed in a day.

I explained to her that Greek yogurt is strained and should be thick and creamy, but choosing nonfat or low-fat varieties will provide all the creamy flavor without all the heart-stopping saturated fat.

When I went to the supermarket last week to find the Greek Gods for myself, I noticed how many new brands were in the refrigerator. There are now several brands of Greek-style yogurt, as well as Swiss, Australian, and even Icelandic yogurt. There are nonfat, low-fat, full-fat, organic, and conventional cultures.

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To make sense of the explosion of cultures at the supermarket, here are tips for choosing a healthier cup.

  • When comparing nutrition information, make note of the serving size. Single-serving yogurt containers range in size from 4- to 8-ounce cups, but 6 ounces is generally the standard.
  • All yogurts are good or excellent sources of calcium, but calories, protein, sugar, and fat content varies significantly. Plain will always have less sugar and calories than flavored varieties. You can always add fruit, nuts, or a bit of honey to add some sweetness.
  • Greek yogurt is strained so the whey (liquid) is removed, resulting in a yogurt that has twice the protein and less sugar than unstrained varieties. It can be used in cooking and as a replacement for mayonnaise and sour cream in dips.

Here's a chart of the common varieties. I indicated sugar in teaspoons so you imagine dropping that much in your container. And just to put things in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Those indicated in bold are your best bets.

Yogurt (6 oz.)CaloriesFatSaturated fatSugars (tsp)ProteinBrown Cow All Natural Greek Yogurt 0% Fat Vanilla12500316Brown Cow Chocolate Cream Top20073.57.256Chobani Greek Yogurt Nonfat Strawberry140004.7514Clover Organic Cream on Top Strawberry18063.565Emmi Swiss Premium Low-Fat Yogurt Strawberry170326.758Fage Total 0% Nonfat Greek Yogurt Plain90001.515Stonyfield Organic Oikos 0% Organic Greek Yogurt Plain90001.7517Siggi’s Icelandic Style Skyr Nonfat Yogurt Plain12000117Voskos Greek Yogurt Exotic Fig180005.512Wallaby Organic Australian Style Low-Fat Yogurt Peach1402.51.54.757

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