An RD shares the best yogurt for gut health

B.Back in the day, strawberry-flavored Go-Gurts were *the* must-have lunchbox staple that made eating yogurt at school totally cool: IYKYK. But, as we age and our palates become much more refined, eating yogurt out of a tube with a picture of SpongeBob slapped on the front might not exactly be the move. (Though, of course, there’s nothing wrong with feeding our inner child a nostalgia-inducing retro snack.)

That said, since the dairy aisle feels busier than ever (Greek Yogurt! Sugar Free Yogurt! Low Fat, Fat Free, Full Fat! Skyr! Plant Based! covered in M&Ms!), the real question many of us face today is more like: How do we even begin to choose the best yogurt for gut health from a seemingly endless array of options?

This very question led us to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a Charleston-based registered dietitian, to learn about the probiotic-rich yogurt she keeps in her fridge at everybody times. Also, what telltale signs you should look out for when choosing the best yogurt for gut health on the market.

An RD’s go-to yogurt for gut health (dairy and plant-based options included)

By now, we know that yogurt is a fermented dairy product with a lot of potential for health and for stimulating the intestine. This is thanks to probiotics, which help support and improve digestive health by maintaining levels of good bacteria in the gut. “There’s a lot of data linking dairy yogurt consumption and gut health, so I tend to see it as a delicious way to help boost and balance my microbiome,” says Manaker.

Favorite dairy-based yogurt

“When I go to the supermarket, I always grab a container of Stonyfield Organic Plain Greek Yogurt, not only because it offers a variety of live cultures, but because it contains no added sugars and is made with quality organic ingredients. With 16 grams of protein and tons of important micronutrients like calcium, this yogurt makes its way into so lots of recipes in my kitchen,” says Manaker.

Favorite Plant-Based Yogurt

As for a plant-based yogurt, Manaker says she loves The Forager Project’s Organic Kids’ Cashew Milk Yogurt that comes in a bag to make it kid-friendly (or adult-friendly, obviously). Do I see the modern Go-Gurt? “Even though it’s marketed to kids, I love the product because it’s so easy to eat on the go,” he says. A win for us adults looking to let our inner children live their best lives.

“The yogurt has added probiotics and nutrients that may be missing in some dairy-free yogurts, such as vitamin B12. It has enough added sugar to make it taste good without overloading our bodies with the sweet stuff, and it actually has some fiber and protein in it too,” says Manaker. Another great advantage is that it has no artificial colors or ingredients. Instead, use turmeric powder (an anti-inflammatory superhero) as a natural source of color.

So how exactly does an RD choose the best yogurt for gut health?

1. Stick to low-sugar yogurts

“When I’m selecting my yogurt, I try to go for those that contain as little added sugar as possible. Since fruit is a natural source of sweetness that contains no added sugar, combining a low- or sugar-free yogurt with some berries, kiwis, bananas, or others gives my dish a flavor boost along with antioxidants, fiber and nutrients. says the manager.

2. Always buy yogurts rich in probiotics

Another important factor to look for is whether or not the yogurt contains live cultures, also known as gut-healthy probiotics. “Not all yogurts contain live cultures,” says Manaker. So be sure to pay close attention to what’s on the label. “Many shelf-stable yogurts do not have live cultures and therefore may not support gut health as effectively as those with these live bacteria. There are some refrigerated options that also do not contain live cultures. I always make sure the container says it contains live, active cultures to make sure I’m feeding my gut live probiotics,” she notes. And FYI: the exact colony-forming unit (CFU) count doesn’t really matter.

3. Avoid products with unnecessary additives

Another no-no in Manaker’s yogurt shopping book is unnecessary additives. “I always choose yogurts that have no artificial colors or flavors,” she says.

4. Greek yogurt (with some fat) is the way to go when it comes to yogurt.

“I like to lean on Greek yogurts as they tend to have more protein and fewer grams of added sugar. Having a bit of fat helps make the yogurt a bit more satisfying and helps curb hunger pangs shortly after eating my yogurt. Some data suggests that dairy fat may also play a positive role in lowering blood pressure in certain situations,” says Manaker.

How do plant-based yogurts compare to dairy-based yogurts?

For starters, Manaker says that both plant-based and dairy yogurts can be a vessel for feeding the body live cultures, as long as they’re included in the processing. This is where she draws the line between the similarities. “Although dairy and plant-based yogurts are quite different, that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. Choose based on your own dietary needs,” she says.

For starters, Manaker explains that some dairy-free yogurts can be very low in protein, which people may notice by feeling hungry shortly after eating them. He also points out that some research indicates that dairy products such as milk, yogurt and kefir may better balance the composition of the gut microbiota. Manaker cautions, stating that for some, eating dairy can lead to constipation or gas (or allergic reactions, if you’re someone sensitive to dairy or lactose), and if this is the case, a plant-based yogurt is the obvious choice. . best option for you.

“Regardless of whether a person chooses a dairy or plant-based yogurt, the variety should be low in added sugars, free of artificial ingredients, and most importantly, taste good,” says Manaker. Basically, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to choosing the right type. (Phew.)

How To Get The Most Gut-Stimulating Benefits From Eating Yogurt

“When people eat probiotic-rich foods, I like to encourage them to eat a prebiotic fiber source at the same time. Prebiotic fiber is a non-digestible fiber that acts as fuel for beneficial bacteria. So, an underripe banana, oatmeal, and apples are prebiotic food sources that can be combined with yogurt for a double whammy in the gut health department,” says Manaker. The more you know!

Manaker also wants people to avoid making this common mistake when cooking with yogurt: “Remember that many strains of probiotic bacteria cannot survive beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you’re using yogurt or kefir in your baked goods recipes, be aware that you may not get the full benefits of these foods if you add too much heat, as the bacteria may not be viable once you eat the yogurt. product,” he said. he says.

Now where’s my trusty spoon?

Let’s talk more about yogurt, okay?

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