Yogurt and Its Many Health Benefits (cont.)

2. Choose Your Sweetener

The other decision is whether you want artificial sweeteners (which are used in most "light" yogurts) or whether you're OK with most of the calories coming from sugar. If you are sensitive to aftertastes, you may want to avoid light yogurts. If you don't mind NutraSweet, there are lots of light yogurts to choose from, and all taste pretty good.

3. Look for Active Cultures and Probiotics

To make sure your yogurt contains active cultures, check the label. Most brands will have a graphic that says "live and active cultures." If you want to know which specific active cultures your yogurt contains, look to the label again. Under the list of ingredients, many brands list the specific active cultures. And different cultures are thought to have different benefits.

4. Team Yogurt With Flaxseed

Get in the habit of stirring in a tablespoon of ground flaxseed every time you reach for a yogurt. A tablespoon of ground flaxseed will add almost 3 grams of fiber and approximately 2 grams of healthy plant omega-3s, according to the product label on Premium Gold brand ground golden flaxseed.

5. Look for Vitamin D

When enjoying calcium-rich yogurt, why not choose one that also boosts your intake of vitamin D? Some brands list 0% of the Daily Value for vitamin D; others have 20%. (See the table above.)

6. Make Yogurt Part of the Perfect Snack

Make the perfect snack by pairing high-protein yogurt with a high-fiber food like fruit (fresh or frozen) and/or a high-fiber breakfast cereal. You can find many lower-sugar breakfast cereals with 4 or more grams of fiber per serving.

7. Whip Up a Creamier Smoothie With Yogurt

Make your smoothie creamy and thick by adding yogurt instead of ice cream or frozen yogurt. Cup for cup, light and low-fat yogurt is higher in protein and calcium than light ice cream. It's also usually lower in fat, saturated fat, and calories.

8. Customize Your Yogurt

If you want to create your own flavored yogurt, start with your favorite plain yogurt and stir in all sorts of foods and flavors. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add chopped strawberries (1/4 cup) and 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Strawberries and Cream Yogurt.
  • Add canned crushed pineapple (1/8 cup) and a tablespoon of flaked or shredded coconut to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Pina Colada Yogurt.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of cool espresso or extra-strong coffee and 1 tablespoon of chocolate syrup to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Mochaccino Yogurt.
  • Add 1/4 cup chopped orange segments or mandarin oranges and 1 tablespoon reduced-sugar orange marmalade to 6 ounces of plain yogurt to make Orange Burst Yogurt.

9. Eat Yogurt at Work

Buy some yogurt and keep it in the office refrigerator (don't forget to put your name on it). On those days when you need a morning or afternoon snack, that yogurt will be ready for you.

10. Use Yogurt in Recipes

Yogurt works as a substitute ingredient in all sorts of recipes. Plain yogurt can take the place of sour cream in a pinch (over baked potatoes or garnishing enchiladas). You can also substitute a complementary flavor of yogurt for some of the oil or butter called for in a muffin, brownie, or cake recipe. It can replace all of the fat called for in cake mixes, too.

Originally published March 9, 2007.
Updated February 22, 2008.

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