Get Cultured! How to Find a Yogurt that is Right for You! Featured

Authors: Registered Dietitians

Get Cultured! How to Find a Yogurt that is Right for You!

Greek, probiotic, low fat, non-fat, artificial sweeteners, organic…the dairy aisle in the grocery store is filled with a variety of yogurts! Please - help me get cultured with the different yogurts so I can choose a yogurt that fits with my needs! 

Greek Yogurts Explode!

Have you noticed that there is an explosion of Greek yogurts on the market?  BUT! Greek Yogurts vary - they are not all the same.

Fat content:

  • Simpler Greek products are made from milk, cream and bacterial cultures.  The more cream used, the higher in fat.  I’ve seen Greek yogurts with up to 10% MF which is more similar to a sweetened sour cream!  These higher fat yogurts are very rich-tasting.
  • If you would like to try one of the decadent Greek yogurts out there, consider serving it as a dessert or use it in place of sour cream in a warm soup or a baked potato.
  • You can find non-fat plain Greek yogurt which is just skim milk + bacterial cultures, strained.  This is a low in fat, high in protein choice with a creamy texture.   If you find this kind of yogurt too sour, add in some of your own sweetener, fresh or frozen fruits or sprinkle on some cinnamon to find a flavor that works for you.
  • Flavoured Greek yogurts abound with different fat contents.  When you read the ingredient lists, they usually have some kind of flavouring and thickener.  Many have very little fruit.  This is where yogurt can get confusing because they are all mixed in together. 
  • If you are like me and like to eat yogurts every day, read the yogurt package look for a lower % M.F. (0-2% M.F.). 


  • Greek yogurts are high in protein and have ~twice the amount of protein as non-Greek yogurt.  Most Greek yogurts have at least 10-12 grams of protein per serving which can contribute to our feeling of fullness.  
  • Some yogurts are more “Greek style” and have milk protein concentrate added to them to give the nutritional profile of yogurt, but are not actually Greek yogurt.
  • As with all packaged foods, read your label to see what you are actually getting.

Do I have to buy Greek Yogurt?

  • No - Greek yogurts are a great choice - but you can still enjoy a non-Greek yogurt.  Non-Greek yogurts are less concentrated, have less protein (about half the amount of protein as a Greek yogurt), but are still an excellent milk alternative.  Some of my favourite yogurts are non-Greek yogurts. 
  • As with all packaged foods, read your food package and pay attention to what you are putting in your cart.  I picked up an orange-mango flavoured yogurt – and came home with a 7% M.F. yogurt – which was delicious but more like a dessert than a yogurt I would choose every day with my breakfast.  
  • Information on the food package can give you information about how it fits into your lifestyle. 

Probiotics vs Active Bacterial Cultures 

Probiotics are live microorganisms that when given in the right amounts, give a health benefit to the host.  They work to keep the colon (large intestine) healthy by balancing good and bad bacteria.  Probiotics may help with diarrhea from antibiotic use, diarrhea from an infection, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose intolerance and constipation.  Probiotics must be taken regularly as they do not survive in your colon for more than 1-2 weeks. 

According to the Canadian Dairy Commission, in Canada, to bear the name “yogurt”, it must have the Lactobacillusbulgaricus and Streptococcusthermophilus bacterial strains.  A yogurt that says “active live cultures” may not necessarily offer all cited health benefits of a probiotic – it depends on the strain, and the amount of the active live culture present, and whether that food product has actually been studied for specific health benefits. 

Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium (genus) are the most common probiotic bacteria – but different strains of these bugs can yield different effects.  To benefit your colon, read the yogurt package and look for lactobacillus casei and bifidobacterium species.  [Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus may also offer benefit to your colon.  If the food is called “yogurt in Canada, then you already know that those particular strains have been added].

5 Ways to get Cultured with Yogurt!

  1. Read the yogurt package look for a lower % M.F. (0-2% M.F.) yogurt more often. 
  2. Choose a plain yogurt more often than a flavoured or sweetened.  If you find plain yogurt too sour, add in some of your own sweetener, fresh or frozen fruits or sprinkle on some cinnamon.  
  3. To find probiotic bacteria, read the yogurt package to see if a particular strain of bug has been added to  that yogurt.  Look or the Lactobacilluscasei and Bifidobacerium strains.
  4. If you are eating yogurt as a milk alternative, small single-containers may not supply a sufficient amount of calcium to the diet.   To get a good source of calcium, choose a yogurt that offers 15% Daily Value (Canadian standards) per serving.  For more information, click here.
  5. Check out HealthCastle’s database to find a yogurt that fits for your lifestyle needs and goals.  You can sort through yogurt products based on serving size, calories, fat, protein, sugar, fiber, calcium.  You can also filter by whether or not there are artificial sweeteners, Greek yogurt, organic, products that have gelatin, products with active bacterial cultures, products fortified with Vit D.  

There is a yogurt out there for everyone!  Find one that you like, that you think tastes great.


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