Natural, flavored, sweetened, skimmed, lactose-free, Greek, smoothie, vegetable, mousse, with cereals, with fruit jam, goat’s milk, especially for babies, enriched with proteins, minerals, vitamins… Choosing a yogurt It has never been so complicated. The offer is so wide that sometimes we don’t even know which one to buy or if the one we just put in the cart is really the most recommended option from a nutritional point of view.
«Real yogurt is a good food to incorporate into a healthy dietary pattern. It contains proteins of high biological value, B complex vitamins and easily absorbable calcium. Furthermore, digestive tolerance is good because lactose is fermented by bacteria and its quantity is minimal,” explains Dr. Carmen Aragón Valera, member of the managing committee of the Nutrition Area of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN).
Now, before making a decision, it is important to be clear about the difference between yogurt, dairy dessert and fermented milk because not all products sold in the refrigerated section of supermarkets are ‘authentic’ yogurts, even if they seem that way or the brands make them. promote with healthy claims on the packaging lids.
What is a yogurt?
The basic recipe for yogurt is nothing more than coagulated milk obtained by lactic fermentation thanks to the action of the bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Additionally, these microorganisms must be variable and present in the finished product in a minimum quantity of one for every 107 colonies per gram or milliliter. “When other different bacteria are used in the process, such as, for example, Lactobacillus casei, the resulting food can no longer be called yogurt but rather a fermented milk,” says Ana Belén Ropero, professor of Nutrition and Bromatology at the University Miguel Hernandez.
This is the theoretical explanation. In practice, what we have to do to know if the yogurt we want to buy is healthy from a strictly nutritional point of view is to look at the labels. Ideally, only two ingredients appear in the list of ingredients: milk and lactic ferments. It is common that powdered milk also appears, which is usually added to give consistency to the product. The general recommendation of nutritionists if what we want is to have a good yogurt without additives is to buy the natural classics. “Any brand is perfect,” agree the specialists, who also advise drinking the serum. “This liquid contains water, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, lactose and proteins, so we should not throw it away.”
Is skimmed better?
Another of the most frequent doubts is whether the skimmed version is healthier than the whole one. An issue that nutritionists are quite clear about: skimming does not provide any added advantage, even if we seek not to gain weight. «The difference in fat between both products is so low that its impact is imperceptible in the overall diet. Furthermore, since the feeling of satiety that skimming provides is so low, it can make us hungry in a short time and snack more, not to mention the difference in flavor and texture,” the experts agree.
Finding options without added sugars or sweeteners is not easy either. A trick to detect them is to look at the carbohydrate section on the label: where it says ‘of which sugars’ you should never exceed 5 grams per 100 grams of product if what you are looking for is the healthiest yogurt possible. «As soon as sugars, sweeteners (sucrose, glucose syrup, syrup…) and other ingredients beyond milk and ferments begin to be added, we would already be talking about a dairy dessert, which has nothing to do with a “real yogurt.” The Greek type, even in its most natural form, are not the most recommended either due to the large amount of cream they usually contain to make them creamier.
Protein ones, fashionable
One of the most popular versions lately are the so-called protein-enriched yogurts, which contribute to the formation and maintenance of muscle mass. “Despite its multiple benefits in specific situations, in general, we already tend to take more protein than necessary, which is why they are not advisable for everyone and in some cases they can even pose a health risk,” adds Ana Belén Ropero. .
Finally, there are the so-called vegetables, “which have nothing at all like yogurt,” nutritionists warn. These are drinks to which lactic ferments have been added.