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Say Yes to Yogurt
Cool, easy to eat and popular with kids, yogurt’s appeal includes its role as a
nutritional hero. It’s a good source of protein, calcium, B vitamins, and other nutrients.
The live bacterial cultures used to turn milk into yogurt break down lactose, making
it easier to digest than milk. Plus it’s a probiotic food, meaning it contains beneficial
bacteria. But many yogurts on today’s dairy shelves also contain lots of sugar and
fat. Here are a few reasons to help you say yes to yogurt without saying no to healthy
• The words “live and active cultures” refer to the living organisms (Lactobacillus
bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus) which convert pasteurized milk to yogurt
during fermentation. Currently, researchers are exploring the effects of these cultures
on the immune system, their potential to lower cholesterol, and how yogurt cultures
may help combat certain types of cancer-causing compounds, particularly in the
• The National Yogurt Association seal (shown below) indicates that the manufacturer
is promising that the yogurt contains at least 100 million active starter cultures per
gram when manufactured. This claim is not regulated by the FDA.
• Heat kills the live and active cultures in yogurt, so stir it into hot dishes at the last
minute, after they’ve been removed from the oven or stovetop. Try substituting Greek
yogurt in recipes that call for sour cream.
• To best incorporate yogurt into meals and still maintain its beneficial probiotic
qualities, use it in cool dishes like cold soups, dips, salad dressings or stir in some
honey and use it as a creamy dessert topping.
• Some yogurts are heat-treated after fermentation, which neutralizes the beneficial
bacteria as well as the potential health benefits. Check the packaging: The FDA
mandates that these yogurts be labeled “heat-treated after culturing.” If your yogurt
is not heat-treated, the package may say “active/living yogurt cultures” or “contains
• Whey, the cloudy liquid that often floats to the top of many yogurts, contains a little
extra protein and tart flavor. Stir it in, don’t pour it off.
• People with mild lactose intolerance usually tolerate yogurt because the live active
cultures break down much of the lactose into glucose and galactose, simple sugars
that are easier to digest.
• Frozen yogurt is not regulated by the FDA, so it could be made entirely from yogurt
or could be ice cream with a little yogurt stirred in. The Live & Active Cultures seal
signals the manufacturer’s assurance that it is actually yogurt.
• Watch the fat content in some yogurts. Choose low- and nonfat yogurts.
• Also watch out for added sugar, like high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose,
maltose, maple syrup, or fruit juice concentrate. Milk contains natural sugar; a six
ounce serving of typical plain nonfat yogurt has about 11 grams of natural sugar and
80 calories. Flavored varieties can add as much as 14 extra grams of sugar and
about 50 calories. Control sugars by adding your own sweeteners or fruits.
• Greek yogurt is more expensive because it requires more milk to make. But many
people find the thick, rich texture far more satisfying .To save money, you can make
your own Greek-style yogurt from plain, natural nonfat or low-fat yogurt.
Line a fine-mesh steel strainer with a coffee filter, paper towel, clean dish cloth or
Set the strainer in a bowl and spoon the plain yogurt into the filter.
Cover the strainer with plastic wrap and place it in the frig, allowing the whey to
drain out of the yogurt overnight.
In the morning, transfer the thicker yogurt into an airtight container and keep it
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