An RD shares the best yogurt for gut health

REMOVEof the day, strawberry-flavored Go-Gurts are *must-haves* in the lunchbox that makes eating yogurt at school totally awesome — IYKYK. However, as we get older and our palates become much more refined, eating yogurt from a tube with a SpongeBob SquarePants glued to the front might not exactly be a move. (Though, of course, there’s nothing wrong with feeding our inner child a nostalgic snack.)

With that said, seeing the aisles selling milk feels more crowded than ever (Greek yogurt! Sugar-free yogurt! Low-fat, fat-free, full-fat! Skyr! Plant origin! Yogurt! covered by M&Ms!), the real question many people are faced with these days is more of an issue: How can we begin to choose the best yogurt for gut health from a range of foods? seemingly endless options?

It was this question that led us to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, to learn about a probiotic-rich yogurt she stocked in her cupboard. her cold at all of time. Plus, there are telltale signs to look out for when choosing the best gut-healthy yogurt on the market.

RD yogurt for gut health (includes dairy and plant-based options)

Now, we know that yogurt is a fermented dairy product that has a lot of potential for promoting gut health and wellness. This is thanks to probiotics, which help support and improve digestive health by maintaining levels of good bacteria in the gut. “There is a lot of data regarding 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. me.

Favorite milk-based yogurt

“When I run groceries, I always grab a box of Stonyfield Organic Greek yogurt — not only because it offers a variety of live cultures, but it also contains no added sugar and is made with organic ingredients. quality mechanics. With 16 grams of protein and tons of important micronutrients, like calcium, this yogurt helps therefore Manaker said.

Favorite Plant Yogurt

As for the plant-based yogurt, Manaker says she loves The Forager Project’s organic cashew yogurt for kids that come in bags to make it kid-friendly (or adult-friendly). , obvi). Do I follow modern-day Go-Gurt? “Even though it’s marketed for kids, I love this product because it’s so easy to eat on the go,” she says. A win for us adults who want to let our inner kids live their best lives.

“Yogurt has added probiotics and nutrients that some non-dairy yogurts may lack, like vitamin B12. Manaker points to just the right amount of sugar to create a delicious taste without overloading our bodies with sweets, and it actually has some fiber and protein in it, too. Another big plus is that it has no artificial colors or ingredients. Instead, it uses turmeric (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 yogurt

“When choosing yogurt, I try to choose those with as little sugar as possible. Since fruit is a natural source of sweetness with no added sugar, pairing low- or unsweetened yogurt with some berries, kiwi, banana, or otherwise will enhance the flavor of my dish along with nutrients. antioxidants, fiber and nutrients,” says Manaker.

2. Always buy probiotic-rich yogurt

Another key factor she’s looking for is whether yogurt contains live bacteria, or probiotics, that are good for the gut. “Not all yogurts contain live cultures,” says Manaker. So be sure to pay close attention to what’s on the label. “Many yogurts with a shelf life are free of live bacteria, and so they may not support gut health as effectively as those with live bacteria. There are several cryopreserved options that also do not contain live cultures. I always make sure that the container indicates that it contains live and active bacteria to ensure that I am fueling my gut with live probiotics,” she points out. And FYI: The exact number of colony forming units (CFUs) doesn’t really matter.

3. Avoid products with unnecessary additives

Another no-no in Manaker’s yogurt shopping book are unnecessary additives. “I always choose yogurt that is free of artificial colors and flavors,” she says.

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

“I prefer Greek yogurt, as they tend to have more protein and less added sugars. Having a little bit of fat makes the yogurt a little tastier and it helps curb my nagging hunger pangs right 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 stand up to dairy-based yogurts?

For starters, Manaker says that both plant-based yogurt and milk can be a source of energy for the body with nutrients as long as they are included in the process. 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. Make your choice based on your own dietary needs,” she says.

First, Manaker explains that some dairy-free yogurts can be very low in protein, which people can tell by feeling hungry soon after eating. She also notes that several studies indicate that dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and kefir may best balance gut microbiota composition. The manager warns by saying that for some people, eating dairy foods can lead to constipation or bloating (or an allergic reaction, if you’re sensitive to milk or lactose), and if true So, plant-based yogurt is obviously the best choice for you.

“Whether a person is choosing milk-based yogurt or plant-based yogurt, it should be low in added sugars, free of artificial ingredients, and most importantly, delicious,” says Manaker. Basically, you really can’t go wrong with picking the right one. (Phew.)

How to get the most gut-boosting benefits from eating yogurt

“When people eat foods rich in probiotics, I want to encourage them to eat a source of prebiotic fiber at the same time. Prebiotic fiber is a type of indigestible fiber that acts as fuel for beneficial bacteria. So a slightly ripe banana, oats, and apple are prebiotic food sources that can be combined with yogurt for a gut health double,” says Manaker. The more you know!

Manaker also wants people to avoid making this common mistake when cooking with yogurt: “Keep in mind that many strains of probiotic bacteria cannot survive above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. So if you’re using yogurt or kefir in your diet, you’ll be fine. your baking recipes, know that you may not get all the benefits of these foods if you add too much heat, as bacteria may not survive when you eat the product,” she says. .

Now, where is my trusty spoon?

Let’s talk more about yogurt, shall we?

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