The Sweet and Convenient Health Food: Yogurt

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By : dLife Editors

By: Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

You might have noticed that the yogurt section at the grocery store has expanded.

There are so many different varieties you may feel confused by all your choices. Don’t let this scare you away – you should not skip this section in the grocery store.

Yogurt is a wonderful, natural, health food packed full of calcium and protein, and it can be low in carbohydrates along with providing probiotics (more on this later).

All that, together with the fact that this sweet treat is packaged in a portable container great for grabbing when you’re in a rush – makes yogurt one of my most frequently recommended foods.

Calcium is an important mineral which helps to build strong muscles, teeth and reduce the risk of the bone disease osteoporosis.

Most Americans are not consuming enough calcium-containing milk products every day. It’s recommended that adults and children consume 3-4 dairy servings per day or 1000-1300 milligrams of calcium per day. A serving size of dairy equals 1 cup (8 ounces) of milk, 1 cup of yogurt or 1 to 1.5 ounces of cheese.

The amount varies based on age. You can learn more about serving sizes at the National Dairy Council.

Yogurt can help you reach your calcium goal, but beware, not all yogurt is created equal. Most yogurts have added sugar, which increases the carbohydrate content greatly.

Some contain more than 35 grams carbohydrate per 6-ounce serving. Light yogurts are sweetened with artificial sweeteners and have lower carbohydrate contents (usually around 15 grams carbohydrate per serving).

Now some companies have come out with even lower-carbohydrate yogurt options, such as Dannon Light n’ Fit, Carb and Sugar Control, which contains 4.5 grams of carbohydrate per serving.

Plain yogurts are also lower in carbohydrates and can be eaten plain or sweetened with sugar-free jam, artificial sweeteners, or by adding fresh fruit.

Greek yogurts have become a hot new product and are popping up in grocery stores everywhere, but the carb and fat content can vary in these yogurts too.

Reading labels is very important when purchasing yogurt — try to find ones that are lower in carbohydrates.

Another great health benefit of yogurt is that it can contain active cultures of friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus or bifidobacterium and often lactobacillus acidophilus is added to yogurt.

This friendly bacteria, referred to as probiotics, is found in yogurt and cultured dairy drinks.

Probiotics are all the buzz because they are associated with some possible health benefits, such as helping alleviate symptoms of lactose intolerance, reducing the severity of diarrhea, protecting against infectious diseases, decreasing colon cancer risk, enhancing the immune system, and aiding constipation.

These health claims need to be confirmed by well-controlled human studies, but yogurt is definitely a healthy choice for people with diabetes. Choose yogurt that contains live and active cultures; some yogurts carry a seal indicating this information.

Remember yogurt doesn’t have to be only for breakfast. Yogurt makes a great snack — and with some toasted almonds added, it can be used to make a dessert.

Plain, fat-free yogurt can be added to savory dishes to decrease saturated fat, like in the Greek dish, Souvlaki (see recipe below).


Souvlaki and Greek Salad

Yield: 5 servings
Serving size: 1 stuffed pita

5 whole-wheat pita pockets
1 1/4 pounds boneless pork chops, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cucumber peeled, seeded and shredded
8 ounces plain fat-free yogurt
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Bamboo skewers, soaked in warm water


1. Prepare an indoor or outdoor grill.
2. Slice one side of each pita to open pocket, but do not cut all the way through. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine pork cubes, lemon juice, garlic, and oregano. Marinate in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
4. In a medium bowl, mix cucumber, yogurt, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
5. Skewer 6-7 pork cubes on each skewer and grill over medium-high heat for 3 minutes each side.
6. Toast pita bread and fill each pita with 1/2 cup pork and 1/2 cup sauce.

Nutrition Information: 335 Calories, 8g Total Fat, 3 Saturated Fat, 69mg Cholesterol, 338mg Sodium, 36g Total Carbohydrate, 3g Dietary Fiber, 7g Sugars, 32g Protein


1 head romaine lettuce- rinsed, dried and chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 (6 ounces) can pit black olives
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lemon, juiced
ground black pepper to taste

In a large salad bowl, combine the Romaine, onion, olives, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and cheese.
Whisk together the olive oil, oregano, lemon juice, and black pepper. Pour dressing over salad, toss and serve.

Nutrition Facts:
Per Serving: 265 calories; 22.4 g fat; 14.1 g carbohydrates; 6 g protein; 22 mg cholesterol; 538 mg sodium.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Updated by dLife Editors 1/19.