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Is Yogurt Actually Good For You?. by Happy (f): 3:04pm on November 5
Yogurt is, after all, considered to be super-healthy. (Have you seen how many varieties they stock at Whole Foods?!)

How many times have you had yogurt for breakfast (or as a snack) this week? A lot? Well...same.
Yogurt is, after all, considered to be super-healthy. (Have you seen how many varieties they stock at Whole Foods?!)

But is yogurt really good for you, given how much sugar it has?

The short version: yes. “Considering it’s packed with probiotics, calcium, potassium, and protein, yogurt is one of the healthiest foods you can eat," says Karen Ansel, R.D.

Okay, Greek yogurt vs. regular yogurt: Which one is better?
While people are REALLY obsessed with Greek yogurt, it is actually pretty similar nutritionally to regular yogurt. (You can see how eight ounces of plain, low-fat yogurt and plain, low-fat Greek yogurt compare in the infographic below.)

That said, Ansel says Greek yogurt does have a lot more protein than regular yogurt (at 23 versus 12 grams). It's also generally lower in carbs and sugars, so it could be a better option for you if you're looking to stick with a low-carb routine.

And while 16 grams of sugar per serving of regular yogurt looks pretty high, keep in mind that all yogurt naturally has some sugar. Ansel says that natural sugar is balanced out by all the protein, calcium, and potassium that's packed in there, too.

However, flavored yogurts (whether they're regular or Greek) often contain added sugarsand sweeteners that will take the carb and sugar counts way up. Skip those and add your own in the form of fruit, cinnamon, honey, or maple syrup if needed.

The downside of Greek yogurt: processing (specifically straining, which gives Greek yogurt its unique, thick texture) removes roughly half of the calcium from Greek yogurt, per the Harvard School of Public Health. Many brands add a calcium supplement back in, but check the label to be sure.

Otherwise both types have all of the other same health benefits, so Ansel suggests choosing whichever you enjoy eating most.

Cool, so what are the actual health benefits of yogurt?
To be clear, you can get way more from a cup of yogurt than just calcium and protein. It also contains "good bacteria" that support your gut and immune system. "[Probiotics] have been credited with everything from improving digestion, to boosting immune health, to protecting against depression,” says Ansel.

It gets better: A 2012 study of over 120,000 people who weren’t obese and didn’t suffer from chronic disease found that regularly eating yogurt might protect against weight gain, possibly due to changes in gut bacteria. Woot!

Plus, some studies have suggested that four weeks of regularly eating probiotic yogurt is good for your brain, while another large study credited the healthy bacteria in yogurt for lowering risk of heart attack and stroke among people who ate just two servings a week. Not bad, not bad at all.

What's better: low-fat, non-fat, or full-fat yogurt?
“Full-fat yogurt is getting a lot of love lately-perhaps too much,” says Ansel. She says it’s best to stick to reduced-fat options due to yogurt’s high saturated fat content, which the USDA still recommends limiting.

“A little saturated fat, such as the amount you might get in a 2 percent yogurt, is fine, but leading health experts still advise against going crazy on saturated fat, even if it’s from dairy,” Ansel says.

Non-fat options, meanwhile, often come with lots of extra sugar to mimic flavor. So yeah, stick with the happy medium: low-fat.

The bottom line: Eating yogurt every day is pretty damn good for you, provided you stick with the plain, lower-fat stuff.

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