Is yogurt on your grocery list? When you get to the refrigerated section of the market – do you find yourself scanning the shelves, confused or mesmerized by the varieties, brands, packaging, and flavors?
I have two words to simplify the process: protein and carbohydrate. I base my yogurt selection on one equation: protein plus carbohydrate. As a sports dietitian and athlete, I place more weight on protein. In the US, our culture, pun intended, is one that overconsumes simple sugars and our physical activity levels tend to be less than what they should be. Lesson: we need to decrease carbohydrates in our diet.
Protein. With Greek yogurt, you get more protein than in regular yogurt. That's due in part to the straining process during the production of yogurt. You get almost double the amount of protein in Greek yogurt than in regular – provided you are comparing whole milk to whole milk on down to non-fat.
Carbohydrate. Whether it's Greek or regular yogurt, if there are added flavoring agents, there will be extra carbohydrates making it not as healthy as plain. As with any food choice, it is a balancing act. If you go with a fat-free flavored yogurt, Greek or regular, the sugars go up. On the flip side, if you go sugar-free, the fats go up.
Sodium. If you are keeping an eye on your sodium intake, understand there is a small amount in any type of yogurt. When it comes to making your selection, focus on the carb and protein equation. Greek, you get more protein.
Speaking of the flip side – I understand the convenience of those pre-packaged yogurt kits that come with a side of nuts, dried fruits, or candy, but by packaging your own, you'll trim your expenses and maybe your waistline. I recommend using plain yogurt to which you can add, in small amounts, your preference of natural fruits, nuts, grains, or seeds. And, on occasion, go ahead, toss in a few of those candy-coated chocolate pieces – provided you don't have dietary restrictions.
Yogurt can be a healthful snack any time of day. When it comes to making your selection, focus on the carb and protein equation. My choice: Greek yogurt. Its protein content makes it a winner.
Yogurt can also be a texture-building alternative dairy ingredient in any number of recipes. There are scores of recipes that include yogurt on the JWU is Changing the Way the World Eats® website. Here are a few surprising ways to change the way you eat: