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The Skinny on Yogurt: 4 Yogurt Myths Debunked

By Jessica Tong, RD on August 21 2018 | News, Nutrition & Recipes

According to the Canadian Dairy Commission, average yogurt consumption has increased by 43.7% over the past ten years. Functional and fortified yogurt remains one of the most dynamic dairy segments in Canada due to consumers' growing demand for ingredients such as probiotics

Yogurt can be an excellent source of nutrients including B vitamins, protein and calcium, and should be a part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Researchers found that consuming yogurt is associated with a lower risk of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. 


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Yogurts are often on the top of grocery lists, but be careful, not all yogurts are healthful. To keep driving growth, marketers are always creating new flavours or highlighting some key "healthy" properties like low and no fat yogurts or high protein yogurts.


Below are common myths about yogurt:


Myth #1: Vanilla yogurt is healthier than fruit-flavoured or fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt.

Truth: Both fruit-flavoured yogurts and vanilla yogurt contain a LOT more sugar and refined carbohydrates than plain yogurt.  Vanilla yogurt contains more than THREE times the sugar and carbohydrates of plain yogurt. Specifically, a ¾ cup serving of vanilla yogurt contains up to 6 sugar cubes worth of sugar! When considering yogurt - opt for plain and then you can added your own chopped fruit if desired.

Looking to cut sugar? Join our 30 day no refined sugar challenge today to receive daily tasks, sugar-free recipes, trivia, and encouraging tips from registered dietitian, Jessica Tong, to help you ditch refined sugar for 30 days.


Myth #2: Once yogurt goes past its best before date, it’s gone bad.

Truth: Many foods can be eaten days or sometimes even weeks after the "best before" date, as this date indicates the threshold at which the food will contain the freshness, taste, and nutrition value that it was intended to. Always inspect whether or not the food looks or smells spoiled regardless of the date stamp. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency indicates that you can eat food past the best before date, but recommends not eating food past the expiration date.


Myth #3: All yogurts contain probiotics.

Truth: All yogurts are created from the live starter bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. However, in many countries where yogurt is produced including the United States, yogurt can be heat-treated after fermentation, thereby killing the live cultures used to create it. When there are no live microorganisms in yogurt, it would not contain any probiotics. In the case of probiotic yogurts, additional probiotic strains are added for their health benefits, such as preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea, managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, relieving constipation, and even improving mental health. When trying to determine which probiotic strain is right for you, know that there are hundreds of different strains with various benefits. 


Speak with your Medisys Dietitian to find which probiotic strain is the appropriate one for you. Click here to get more information or to book an appointment.



Myth #4: 0% or "fat free" yogurt is healthier than 2% milk-fat yogurt.

Truth: Fats are friends. We need fats for satiety and fats also taste good. Some recent studies even show that choosing higher fat dairy products is associated with better health outcomes. Moreover, the calorie difference between one serving of 0% and 2% MF yogurt is only 20 calories, but you get a much creamier texture. So just look for a plain yogurt that you like, whether it's fat free or has a little fat. 


Navigating the yogurt aisle can be overwhelming. Jessica Tong, Medisys RD, gives you her top yogurt aisle shopping tips:

  • "Sugar Free" or "Reduced Sugar" doesn’t always mean it’s good – often flavoured yogurts marketed as being lower in sugar contain artificial sweeteners. Take a peek at the label and skip anything containing sucralose, aspartame, or acesulfame-potassium. Most plain yogurts don't contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners. 
  • The thick texture and tart flavour of plain Greek yogurt lends itself to replacing sour cream and mayo in recipes (think tacos with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top!). 
  • Try Skyr! It is an Icelandic cultured dairy product. Compared to Greek yogurt, Skyr is thicker and has a milder, slightly sweeter flavour. Its luxurious texture makes a great replacement for crème fraiche. Skyr also has more protein per serving than Greek yogurt! Even Skyr flavoured yogurt is lower in sugar than leading flavoured yogurt brands. 
  • Try Kefir! Kefir is a fermented milk beverage – almost like pourable yogurt. Its protein content is not as high as Greek yogurt, but it works well in porridge, with cereal, or in smoothies. The greatest benefit is that kefir contains probiotics, which support gut health and immune function. Look for kefir that is low in added sugar. 


Want to impress your guests? Try our Mexican Greek yogurt dip – a sweet and savory dip that’s high in calcium and protein. Click here to get the recipe.