On the surface, yogurt appears to be the ultimate snack – delicious, nutritious, versatile. It’s perfect for the weight-conscious – it’s low in calories and incredibly filling at the same time. Nutrition-wise, it’s rich in protein, calcium, and potassium. Best of all, it also has probiotics that help promote good gut health.
But are probiotics really worth all the hype? Is yogurt the best source of probiotics? And what is the best probiotic yogurt? Well, I won’t keep you waiting – scroll down to find out!
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Do All Yogurts Have Probiotics?
Before we answer the question, let’s define probiotics first:
So, basically, probiotics are “good” bacteria that live in the gut. Probiotics control the growth of “bad” bacteria and play a key role in digestion, immunity, and overall health. Since approximately 70% of our immune system cells reside in the gut wall, it’s important to keep our gut healthy.
Unfortunately, our lifestyle and diet can cause these “bad” bacteria to flourish and overwhelm the “good” guys. This is where probiotics from food (and supplements) come from. By topping off your store of good bacteria, balance gets restored and health improves.
That being said, let’s go back to the question…
Technically, all yogurts contain probiotics. This is because you can’t transform plain milk into yogurt without introducing probiotic ‘starters’ (live cultures of good bacteria). Without these probiotic starters, you’re just left with spoiled milk!
Now, here’s the thing:
Some types of yogurt are pasteurized (treated with heat) after introducing the good bacteria. This process essentially makes the yogurt more stable with a longer shelf life… BUT it also kills off the beneficial bacteria, meaning it no longer contains probiotics.
It’s therefore important to look at the label for this reason – you must look for products that contain active probiotics or live cultures.
So, what are these probiotic strains added to yogurt?
The most common ‘starter’ cultures are lactic acid-producing bacteria called Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. They’re added to milk, and after several hours of fermentation at a certain temperature, yogurt is made.
Many manufacturers also add probiotics to their yogurts (this is in addition to the original starter cultures used to make the yogurt).
The strains added vary by manufacturer, but the most common ones used are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium strains. The Latin names may sound intimidating, but these are some of the most powerful probiotics out there! The more probiotics in yogurt, the better it will be for your gut!
The Truth About Probiotics: Not All Yogurts Are Equal
With yogurt’s ever-increasing popularity, many brands are looking to cash in. So, it’s not surprising to see tons of options in the supermarket. Go to the dairy or yogurt section, and you’ll see what I mean.
Now, it’s easy to get confused with all the different colors and attractive packaging lined up on display shelves. But here’s the simple truth: NOT all yogurts are as nutritious as they’re marketed to be. Many contain high levels of sugar, especially fat-free and low-fat varieties.
Here are some of the most nutritious probiotic-containing yogurts:
Greek yogurt is probably the ‘superstar’ of yogurts. It’s famous not because it’s ‘Greek’ (researchers think it actually originated in the Middle East, not Greece), but because it packs more nutrients than regular yogurt.
To make Greek yogurt, the whey (liquid portion) is drained from regular yogurt, resulting in a thicker, creamier yogurt. Greek yogurt typically has twice the protein and fewer carbs than other types of yogurt. So, if you’re on keto, you definitely need to give this type of yogurt a try. Many Greek yogurts also contain added probiotics, making them even more nutritious.
Additionally, kitchen aficionados like Greek yogurt because it withstands heat better than regular yogurt. This is why you’ll often see Mediterranean recipes calling for Greek yogurt.
Goat milk yogurt
Most commercial yogurts are made from cow’s milk. While cow’s milk is great, some people are allergic to it. Go for goat milk yogurt! The taste may require some getting used to (it’s got a strange aftertaste), but it’s actually got an extra nutrient boost.
Goat milk yogurt has more protein, calcium, and potassium than yogurt made from cow’s milk, and it tends to have less sugar. If you’re wondering if you can make Greek yogurt from goat’s milk, you sure can.
Sheep milk yogurt
For the lactose-intolerant, sheep’s milk is a blessing in disguise. It has lower lactose content than both cow’s and goat’s milk. Sheep’s milk also has 60% more protein on average, as well as additional vitamins and minerals compared to cow’s milk.
With smaller fat globules, this yogurt is also more homogeneous and easily digested. Taste-wise, there’s no strong aftertaste like goat’s milk, so if you’re not a fan of goat milk, you should definitely try sheep milk yogurt. For added nutrition, choose sheep milk yogurt with added probiotics.
Vegans have plenty of yogurt options, too. Look for yogurts made from nut milk such as almonds, coconuts, or soy. Double-check to make sure it’s not pasteurized after production, and of course, look for vegan yogurt that contains added live cultures.
So, Is Yogurt The Best Probiotic Source In The World?
For thousands of years, fermented foods such as yogurt have been our major sources of probiotics. But is yogurt the best probiotic source? Well, it was – until probiotic supplements came along!
You see, probiotic supplements are engineered to last for months and even years, and unlike yogurt, they don’t typically need to be refrigerated. Supplements aren’t going to be as tasty as yogurt, of course, but the good news is that they will not go rancid anytime soon if stored properly.
To help illustrate the benefits of probiotic supplements, let’s compare Intelligent Labs Probiotics with the probiotics found in regular yogurt:
|Regular Probiotic Yogurt||Intelligent Labs Probiotics|
|No. of probiotic strains||Depends on the brand, but sometimes 2, 4, or more strains||10 strains sourced through DuPont Danisco|
|No. of colony forming units (CFU)||Around 1 billion CFU||Minimum of 50 billion CFU at expiry date (we fill each capsule with 150 billion CFU)|
|Does it include prebiotics?||No prebiotics added||Yes, prebiotics (or fiber) feed the probiotics inside the capsule so they don’t die off|
|Sugar||Yes, many commercial yogurts have added sugar||No sugar added|
|Shelf life||1-2 weeks (max of 1 month)||Two years|
And the winner is?
Without a doubt, probiotic supplements offer better value for the money than regular probiotic yogurts. In terms of probiotics, yogurt is simply outmatched. It’s delicious, yes, but if you care more for your gut than your taste buds, then supplements are the way to go.
FAQs About Probiotic Yogurts
Are probiotic yogurts safe during pregnancy and nursing?
Yes, it’s safe to eat probiotic yogurt while pregnant or nursing. Since you need more calcium at this stage, you should get your hands on probiotic Greek yogurt since it contains more protein and other nutrients compared to regular yogurt. Probiotics may even reduce pregnancy-related complications like vaginal infections, gestational diabetes, and allergies.
Is yogurt safe for lactose-intolerant people?
Depending on the kind of milk used to make the yogurt, it can be. Non-dairy yogurts are appropriate for lactose-intolerant folks, and sheep’s milk yogurt is a good option, too. Of course, it’s always a good practice to check the label thoroughly to make sure the yogurt is appropriate for your needs.
Can probiotic yogurt cause diarrhea? Bloating? Yeast infection? Gas? Constipation? Stomach pain?
Probiotics normally don’t cause these issues, but some people may experience these side effects. It’s actually a sign that the probiotics are working, so it’s generally nothing to be worried about. Alternatively, if you’re sensitive to an ingredient in the yogurt itself, you may also experience these symptoms.
Is yogurt good for dogs?
Dogs have guts too, and like us, they can benefit from probiotics. But take note, most dogs are actually lactose-intolerant. So, choose something that contains low lactose levels.
Also, make sure to choose plain low-fat or non-fat yogurt for your dog and read the ingredients labels carefully. Avoid flavored yogurts! Because they are packed with sugar. Also, never feed your dog yogurt that contains Xylitol artificial sweetener, as this ingredient is toxic to dogs.
Avoid full-fat yogurt, giving your dog too much fat in his diet, can lead to stomach upset, or even pancreatitis, a serious and fatal illness. You can start by giving your dog a small amount and see how he reacts, and then if he doesn’t have any symptoms, you can add a small spoonful of yogurt to your dog’s regular meal once in a while.
How often should you consume probiotic yogurt?
If you truly want to reap the benefits of probiotics in yogurt, then you need to make it a daily habit. In fact, according to the USDA, anyone over age 9 should consume between 2 and 3 cups of dairy each day, physically active people may need more. This includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and other milk-based foods. If you eat other dairy products, then 1 cup of yogurt a day will most likely suffice.
Then again, when you consider how many probiotics are in a single yogurt cup compared to a single capsule of Intelligent Labs Probiotics, you can see why probiotic supplements are the ideal choice!
Without a doubt, yogurt – especially Greek yogurt – is one of the tastiest and most nutritious snacks around. But when it comes to probiotics, there’s a much better source. Now that you know the truth about probiotic yogurt, will you give probiotic supplements a chance? Or will you stick to good ol’ yogurt? Do let us know your thoughts below!