Yogurt does it all—this breakfast staple has helped folks start their morning for generations, has made its way into a ton of recipes, and can transform into a quick midday snack. Experts have even discovered that the probiotics and nutritional content of some yogurts can help aid digestion, provide you with the necessary protein to get you moving when you wake up, and one study published in the International Journal of Obesity revealed that some types of yogurt may even help you lose weight.
While it seems like a cup or bowl of your favorite yogurt can do it all, not every variety is created equal. Some brands find ways to sneak in extra sugar and carbs through the guise of added fruit or special flavors. While these types of sugar-filled yogurt are guaranteed to cause your blood sugar to spike, one nostalgic variety you might remember from childhood takes the cake when it comes to wrecking your blood sugar for the day.
“The worst yogurts I advise patients with diabetes to buy are yogurts marketed to children. Clever marketing techniques like advertising and packaging are potent ways to sell to children and adults with a sweet tooth,” he says Cheryl MussattoMS, RD, LDclinical dietitian and author of The Nourished Brain.
“Anyone trying to keep blood glucose levels in control will struggle if they are consuming yogurts geared toward children. These yogurts typically are high in sugar and low in protein, a bad combination for keeping blood sugar in check. Without sufficient protein and too many carbs , a person’s blood sugar will spike, as there is too little protein or fat to slow the absorption of sugar into the blood,” says Mussatto.
“Children like the ‘add-ins,’ such as toffee bits or other bits of candy within the yogurt that even adults find appealing,” Mussatto adds. “So, stay away from kid’s yogurts to avoid blood sugar spikes.”
Anyone who loves a cup of multicolored yogurt filled with candy might have a hard time adapting, but choosing the right amount or type of yogurt can play a major role in keeping you healthy. When it comes to picking out the right variety, you can’t go wrong by first examining the ingredients.
“I recommend always reading the nutrition facts label,” says Mussatto. “In fact, don’t buy a yogurt brand without reading the label. The best yogurts to choose from are those with no more than 10 grams of total sugar and no more than 15 grams of total carbohydrates per serving.”
If you can stomach a yogurt with very little sugar, there’s one type in particular that always blows away the competition when it comes to dishing out the best nutrition.
“Greek yogurt is what I always recommend to my patients,” Mussatto explains. “Choose a Greek yogurt high in protein of at least 10 grams per serving and low in carbs—ideally, no more than 10 grams per serving. Foods high in protein break down more slowly, keeping a person feeling fuller longer. In addition, protein helps slow down carbs’ digestion and delays their absorption into the blood. It’s a win-win for anyone with diabetes—the protein controls hunger and keeps blood sugar from spiking.”
If you don’t like Greek yogurt, it might seem like you don’t have that many great options ahead of you. Luckily, you can keep an eye out for healthier options and treat yourself to a variety of yogurts that ditch the sugar and still taste great.
Erich Barganier is a health and food writer. Read more