What are the health benefits of consuming non-dairy yogurt?
With cow's milk taking a backseat, you're able to choose from a wide variety of options made with oat, almond, cashew, soy, and more. The good news is that non-dairy yogurt can be just as nutritious, if not more, than traditionally-made yogurt products that include cow's milk. That's in part due to the plant-based probiotics that can also be found in dairy-free yogurts. In fact, with the addition of probiotics in non-dairy yogurt, you can rest assured knowing that you're still getting the same gut-friendly strains of bacteria found in their dairy counterparts.
- Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition
An added bonus? Dairy-free yogurts can help stave away inflammation often caused by dairy products for folks with dairy sensitivities or intolerances. Plus, just like OG yogurt, the non-dairy options can be good sources of protein (from the nuts being used to make them), which means they're perfect for a quick no-prep breakfast or snack.
Of course, non-dairy yogurt has been around for some time now since Well+Good first named it a Wellness Trend back in 2018. In fact, dairy-free yogurts of all kinds have been taking over the yogurt section in grocery stores ever since. You could say the culture (ahem) has definitely changed. But, just like other food categories, not all non-dairy yogurts are created equal. I reached out to a registered dietitian for tips on how to choose the most nutrient-rich ones.
What should I look for in a good non-dairy yogurt?
Love yogurt? Registered dietitian Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, does too (non-dairy ones included). "You don’t have to give up yogurt if you’re giving up dairy," Gorin says. What you do have to do, she says, is a little label-reading to discover all of the yogurt benefits. (You knew that was coming right?)
1. Choose a non-dairy yogurt low in sugar
The first thing Gorin says to check the label for is the sugar content. "I always recommend opting for ones with as little added sugar as possible—so an unsweetened yogurt, when possible," she says. Then, you can sweeten it up yourself with herbs when you get home. "As with any yogurt, you can add your own sweetness with fruit and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg."
2. Watch out for added ingredients
Besides sugar, other chemical-based fillers are something else to keep an eye out for. Some non-dairy yogurts are made with gums, which may cause digestive distress for some folks with sensitivities.
3. Check out the protein content
If you really want your yogurt to serve as a filling breakfast or snack, it should include at least some protein sourced from the nuts used to make the non-dairy milk. If it's on the low-side, just add some nut butter or granola before you dig in. Otherwise, chances are that you'll be hungry soon after enjoying your yogurt.
What are the best non-dairy yogurt options available?
From coconut cream to soy milk to oat milk, there are tons of delicious non-dairy yogurt options to choose from. But, don't worry, I've done the lifting already. In fact, I tried out some of the most popular varieties of non-dairy yogurt and ranked them by taste and texture as listed out ahead.
6. Silk Dairy-Free Yogurt Alternative
Soy milk has always seemed like the most milk-like to me, so it's no wonder I was a fan of the texture of this yogurt. But despite loving other Silk products (they're sitting in my fridge as we speak!), I'm not a big fan of this yogurt. Maybe the company's oat milk and almond milk varieties are better picks.
What a RD thinks of soy milk: "Soy is a complete protein source, which means it contains all the essential amino acids. It’s one of the best high-protein milk alternatives. A cup of soy milk can contain up to around nine grams of protein. Many soy milks are fortified with vitamins and minerals, and so you can get about 30 percent of the daily value for vitamin D and 30 percent of the daily value for calcium per cup," Gorin says.
- Flavor: Strawberry
- Nutrition stats (5.3 ounces): 130 calories, 3.5 grams fat, two grams fiber, 13 grams sugar, six grams protein
- Taste: I really thought I was going to love the strawberry flavor of this yogurt, but despite listing real strawberries on the ingredients list, it was very artificial-tasting to me. It also left me with a weird aftertaste.
- Texture: The texture was flawless. It wasn't too runny or too thick, making it feel like I was eating the regular ol' dairy yogurt. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the Go-GURTs I ate as a kid.
- Other flavors available: Peach mango, tropical pineapple, berry, plain, vanilla
5. GT's CocoYO Pure Living Coconut Yogurt
The lid on this yogurt says "I'm alive" (hi, living probiotics) and warns you to open it carefully. And after removing the lid completely, I have to admit: the raw coconut-based product definitely did look alive. Even though I personally wasn't a fan of the tangy taste, it deserves an all-star rating for its short list of ingredients and nutrition stats.
- Flavor: Raspberry
- Nutrition stats (8 ounces): 160 calories, 12 grams fat, four grams fiber, four grams sugar, two grams protein
- Taste: If you like ridiculously tangy yogurt, this one's for you. I, unfortunately, was very taken aback by it. Props to anyone who can eat it, but personally, it reminds me of what it's like trying to take a shot of apple cider vinegar: You know it can be potentially good for you, but you don't always like doing it.
- Texture: It's very, very thick and creamy—and also airy. When you stick your spoon in, it feels like you're scooping into a spongey material.
- Other flavors available: Cacao, pure, ginger turmeric, vanilla
4. Forager Project Cashewmilk Yogurt
Looking for a perfect yogurt to add into your smoothie? This is it. It doesn't have a crazy-sweet taste like other options, and it's one of the runniest I tried, making it a great option to mix in with other ingredients and sip up for breakfast.
- Flavor: Blueberry
- Nutrition stats (5.3 ounces): 140 calories, six grams fat, one gram fiber, 12 grams sugar, three grams protein
- Taste: If you like minimal sweetness in your yogurts, this is a great pick. The blueberry flavor is very subtle, and there's not an artificial, sugary taste in the slightest.
- Texture: This is definitely one of the runniest yogurts. That said, it's still nice and creamy.
- Other flavors available: Unsweetened plain, strawberry, vanilla, lemon, cherry, coconut
3. Kite Hill Almond Milk Yogurt
Almond milk is typically my least favorite non-dairy milk, but I have to say—this yogurt is making me change my mind. It was incredibly smooth and creamy and the vanilla flavor wasn't at all overpowering or artificial-tasting, making it a great base for smoothies and parfaits.
What a RD thinks of almond milk: "Many almond milks are fortified with vitamins and minerals—so in a cup of milk, you could get around 45 percent of the daily value for calcium, 50 percent of the daily value for vitamin B12, and 25 percent of the daily value for vitamin D. Vitamin D is typically not easy to find in foods," Gorin says.
- Flavor: Vanilla
- Nutrition stats (6 ounces): 190 calories, 10 grams fat, two grams fiber, 20 grams sugar (including 19 grams added sugar), four grams protein
- Taste: This yogurt has just the right amount of vanilla and sweetness that provides great flavor without being at all overpowering, like some of the other vanilla options on the market.
- Texture: It's thick and creamy. You don't have to worry this yogurt getting runny.
- Other flavors available: plain, plain unsweetened, peach, blueberry, strawberry, key lime, raspberry
2. Trader Joe's Organic Creamy Cashew Cultured Yogurt Alternative
Trader Joe's is making affordable, dairy-free, and vegan yogurt accessible to all with this tasty product. After trying it out, I'm happy to say it holds up to some of the bigger names.
What a RD thinks of cashew milk: "Cashew milk provides small amounts of iron and calcium and is typically low in calories when unsweetened—around 25 to 40 calories a serving. Some cashew milks are fortified with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 and zinc," Gorin says.
- Flavor: Strawberry
- Nutrition stats (5.3 ounces): 140 calories, six grams fat, <one grams fiber, 12 grams sugar (including 11 grams added sugar), three grams protein
- Taste: Unlike some strawberry flavored non-dairy yogurts that are so sweet it'll make you wince, the flavor here is subtle and satisfying.
- Texture: The texture is smooth, creamy, and a nice in-between of the thick and runny options.
- Other flavors available: Vanilla bean
1. So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt
Key lime was always one of my favorite yogurt flavors, so this one had a lot to live up to. And luckily, it didn't disappoint. In fact, I think I like it even more than the types I ate regularly in the past.
What a RD thinks of coconut milk: "Unsweetened coconut milk has a nice creamy texture. However, it contains very little or no protein. Most coconut milk beverages are fortified with vitamins and minerals, and so you may get 50 percent of the daily value for vitamin B12 and 30 percent of the daily value of vitamin D per cup," Gorin says.
- Flavor: Key lime
- Nutrition stats (5.3 ounces): 130 calories, four grams fat, two grams fiber, 17 grams sugar, <one gram protein
- Taste: This was one of the best flavors of non-dairy yogurt I've tried. It was wholesome, well-rounded, didn't have that artificial taste, and didn't have a weird aftertaste. It also didn't taste coconut-y at all, like some coconut milk products do.
- Texture: While the almond and oat milk varieties of yogurt are pretty thick, this one is the perfect happy medium between thick and runny, making it easy to eat on its own or use in other recipes.
- Other flavors available: Plain, vanilla, passionate mango, strawberry, pineapple brûlée, unsweetened vanilla, unsweetened plain, strawberry banana, raspberry, peach, chocolate, blueberry.
As you can see, there are lots of great non-dairy yogurts that are made with nutrient-rich ingredients, low in sugar, and taste absolutely delicious. You just have to do a little taste-testing (and label reading) to find the one you like best. And you know what, that's kind of the best part!
Watch the video below to learn more about the pros and cons of oat milk:
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