8 Best Probiotic-Rich Yogurts That Support Your Microbiome With Every Bite, According to an RD

Photo: Stocksy/Giada Canu
Back in the day, strawberry-flavored Go-Gurts were *the* must-have lunchbox staple that made eating yogurt at school totally cool—IYKYK. But, as we grow older and our palates become much more refined, eating yogurt out of a tube with a picture of SpongeBob SquarePants plastered in the front might not exactly be the move. (Although, of course, there’s nothing wrong with feeding our inner child with a nostalgia-inducing throwback snack.)

That being said, seeing as the dairy aisle feels more crowded than ever before (Greek yogurt! Sugar-free yogurt! Low fat, non fat, full fat! Skyr! Plant-based! Yogurt covered in M&Ms!), the real question many of us face today is more along the lines of: How can we even begin to pick the best yogurt for gut health from a seemingly endless array of options? According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, one thing they have in common: probiotics. Ahead, we're unpacking healthy benefits of some of the best probiotic yogurts on the market.


Experts In This Article

The best probiotic yogurt, at a glance:

Why are probiotics beneficial for gut health?

When eating to support gut health, Manaker says incorporating foods with probiotics into your diet is a must. Probiotics are live microorganisms—like bacteria and yeast—that add good bacteria to the gut and provide health benefits to the body. Although many foods contain probiotics, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso, health experts agree kefir and yogurt are among the best ways to get your daily intake of these gut-healthy microbes.

Do probiotic yogurts really work?

By now, we know that yogurt is a fermented dairy product with tons of health and gut-boosting potential thanks to its high probiotic content, which help support and improve digestive health by maintaining levels of good bacteria in the gut. “There is ample data linking consuming dairy yogurt and gut health, so I tend to look to it as a delicious way to help boost and balance my microbiome,” Manaker says. As such, probiotic yogurt is an excellent way to keep your gut in check.

That said, it's important to not overdo it with probiotics, either. In fact, registered dietitian Anthea Levi, RD, previously shared with Well+Good that adding a probiotic supplement to your daily routine—especially if things are already flowing smoothly—isn't always a good idea. "If you’re dealing with specific GI concerns, incorporating a probiotic supplement might make sense for you. But if you’re taking a probiotic because you heard it was a good thing to do, well, you could likely skip it," Levi previously said. In short, getting probiotics through your diet by way of yogurt and other fermented foods in moderation is key. Otherwise, you may run the risk of disrupting the delicate balance in your microbiome.

What to look for in a probiotic yogurt?

1. Stick to yogurts with low sugar

According to Manaker, the lower the sugar, the better. “When I am selecting my yogurt, I try to opt for those that contain as little added sugar as possible. Since fruit is a natural source of sweetness that contains no added sugar, combining a low-sugar or sugar-free yogurt with some berries, kiwis, bananas, or otherwise gives my dish a boost of flavor along with antioxidants, fiber, and nutrients,” Manaker says.

2. Check the label for live cultures

So, which yogurt contains the most probiotics? It's simple: the ones with live cultures. This is why Manaker always looks for whether or not the yogurt contains live cultures, aka gut-healthy probiotics. “Not all yogurts contain live cultures,” Manaker says. So, make sure to pay close attention to what’s on the label. “Many shelf-stable yogurts do not have live cultures, and therefore they may not support gut health as effectively as those with these live bacteria. There are some refrigerated options that do not contain live cultures as well. I always make sure the container indicates that it contains live and active cultures to ensure I am fueling my gut with live probiotics,” she points out. And FYI: The exact colony forming unit (CFU) count doesn't actually matter.

3. Avoid products with unnecessary additives

Another no-no in Manaker’s yogurt-shopping book is unnecessary additives. “I always choose yogurts that are free from artificial colors and flavors,” she says. Make sure to read the ingredient labels before you check out.

4. Choose yogurt with some healthy fat

“I like leaning on Greek yogurts, as they tend to contain more protein and fewer grams of added sugar. Having a little fat helps make the yogurt a bit more satisfying, and it helps curb feeling hunger pangs shortly after eating my yogurt. Some data suggests that dairy fat may play a positive role in reducing blood pressure1 in certain situations, too,” Manaker says.

Which yogurt is highest in probiotics?

Among the different types of probiotic yogurt, kefir tends to take the prize for the highest amount of these microbes. Research shows that kefir milk can contain up to 61 strains of bacteria that support gut health. Meanwhile, other conventional types of probiotic yogurts are typically made with just two main types of bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

The best probiotic yogurts you can buy

Skyr yogurt

icelandic provisions skyr
Photo: Amazon
Icelandic Provisions Extra Creamy Skyr — $2.00

Skyr is a super thick, creamy yogurt that people in Iceland have been making for over 1,000 years. In addition to gut-friendly probiotics, one serving of this yogurt also contains 11 grams of protein and three billion probiotics.

Pros

  • 3 billion probiotics
  • Rich, creamy consistency
  • Flavor versatility

Cons

  • Higher sugar content
siggis skyr yogurt
Photo: Amazon
Siggi’s Icelandic Strained Skyr Whole Milk Yogurt Tub — $4.00

One cup of this yogurt contains six grams of natural (not added) sugar and a whopping 25 grams of protein, making it the perfect base for this festive strawberry shortcake parfait recipe.

Pros

  • Naturally sweetened
  • No preservatives

Cons

  • Limited flavor selection

Greek yogurt

stonyfield greek yogurt
Photo: Amazon
Stonyfield Organic Greek Whole Milk Yogurt, 30 Ounces — $8.00

When you’re looking to reap yogurt benefits for gut health, Manaker says there’s one option she always recommends: Greek yogurt. “When I am making a grocery run, I always grab a container of Stonyfield Organic plain Greek yogurt—not only because it offers a variety of live cultures, but it contains no added sugars and is made with quality organic ingredients. With 16 grams of protein and tons of important micronutrients, like calcium, this yogurt makes its way into so many recipes in my kitchen,” Manaker says. Whether you eat it plain or add a handful of granola on top, Greek yogurt is one of the best snacks that help digestion.

Pros

  • USDA Organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Gluten-free
  • Kosher

Cons

  • Contains dairy
  • Strong flavor
oikos triple zero
Photo: Amazon
Oikos Triple Zero Vanilla Nonfat Greek Yogurt — $2.00

A single serving of this plain yogurt clocks in at an impressive 15 grams of protein—that’s nearly as much as three entire eggs. Sprinkle on some nuts and seeds to add some healthy fats. Sweetest part? This zero-added-sugar yogurt isn’t made with artificial sweeteners.

Pros

  • No added sugar
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • High in protein

Cons

  • Stevia leaf aftertaste

Plant-based yogurt

Forager Project Organic Kids Cashewmilk Yogurt
Photo: Amazon
Forager Project Organic Kids Cashewmilk Yogurt, 3.2 Ounces — $2.00

As for a plant-based yogurt, Manaker says that she loves The Forager Project organic kids cashew milk yogurt that comes in a pouch to make it kid-friendly (or adult-friendly, obvi). Do I spy the modern-day Go-Gurt? “Even though it is marketed for kids, I love the product because it is so easy to eat when on the go,” she says. A win for us adults looking to let our inner children live their best lives.

“The yogurt has added probiotics and nutrients that some dairy-free yogurts can be missing, like vitamin B12. It has just enough added sugar to make it taste good without overloading our bodies with the sweet stuff, and it actually has some fiber and protein in it, too,” Manaker points out. Another big plus is that it has no artificial colors or ingredients. Instead, it uses turmeric powder (an anti-inflammatory superhero) as a natural source of color.

Pros

  • Organic
  • Dairy-free
  • Mess-free packaging
  • Nutrient-packed
  • Kid-friendly

Cons

  • Limited flavor selection
  • Pricey
cocoyo vanilla yogurt
Photo: Amazon
GT's Cocoyo Vanilla Yogurt — $7.00

This plant-based yogurt features a simple list of ingredients: raw young coconut, raw young coconut water, probiotic cultures, organic vanilla extract, and organic stevia. It’s mild-tasting and pairs well with your favorite assortment of fresh fruit.

Pros

  • Plant-based
  • Creamy consistency

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited flavor selection

Drinkable yogurt

chobani complete
Photo: Amazon
Chobani Complete Advanced Nutrition Protein Greek Yogurt Drink — $3.00

Refreshing and high-protein, this Greek yogurt-based drink contains 20 grams of protein and three grams of fiber per serving. It’s perfect way to get your daily dose of probiotics while on the go.

Pro

  • Great-tasting
  • Convenient packaging

Cons

  • High sugar content

Regular Yogurt

noosa yoghurt
Photo: Amazon
Noosa Yoghurt — $3.00

This probiotic-rich yogurt comes in small, resealable containers perfect for when you don’t have enough time to eat the whole tub in one sitting. Made with whole milk, each serving contains a whopping 13 grams of protein.

Pros

  • High in protein
  • Made with wildflower honey

Cons

  • High sugar content

How do plant-based yogurts stack up against dairy-based yogurts?

For starters, Manaker says that both plant-based and dairy-based yogurts can be a vessel for fueling the body with live cultures as long as they are included in the processing. This is where she draws the line between the similarities. "Although dairy and plant-based yogurts are quite different, that’s not to say one is better than the other. Choose based on your own dietary needs," she says.

For starters, Manaker explains that some dairy-free yogurt can be very low in protein, which people may notice by feeling hungry shortly after eating it. She also notes that some research indicates that dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and kefir may best balance the gut microbiota composition. Manaker caveats by stating that for some, eating dairy foods can result in constipation or gas (or allergic reactions, if you are someone who is sensitive to dairy or lactose), and if this is the case, a plant-based yogurt is the obvious best choice for you.

“Regardless of whether a person is choosing a dairy or plant-based yogurt, the variety should be low in added sugars, free from artificial ingredients, and, most importantly, should taste good,” Manaker says. Basically, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to choosing the right type. (Phew.)

How to get the most gut-boosting benefits from eating yogurt

“When people eat probiotic-rich foods, I like to encourage them to eat a source of prebiotic fiber at the same time. Prebiotic fiber is an indigestible fiber that acts as fuel to beneficial bacteria. So, a slightly underripe banana, oats, and apples are all prebiotic food sources that can be combined with some of the best probiotic yogurt options for a one-two punch in the gut health department,” Manaker says. The more you know!

Manaker also wants folks to avoid making this common mistake when cooking with yogurt: “Remember that many strains of probiotic bacteria can not survive beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you are using yogurt or kefir in your baked goods recipes, know that you may not reap all of the benefits of these foods if you add too much heat, as the bacteria may not be viable once you ingest the product,” she says.

Is it better to take a probiotic or eat yogurt?

Most health experts would argue both ways. On the one hand, a recent Harvard Medical School blog post says that "there is no recommended daily intake for probiotics, so there is no way to know which type of bacteria or quantities are best. The general guidelines is to add some foods with probiotics to your daily diet." The good news? Yogurt is a great source of probiotics that offers additional nutrients and support for overall well-being. Read: It's high in protein and other essential vitamins and minerals. That's to say, whichever method of including gut-friendly probiotics in your daily routine is best for you is the way to go, so long as you remain consistent with your practice. Be it drinking probiotic drinks, taking a supplement, or eating probiotic yogurt daily.

Now, where's my trusty spoon?

Let's talk even more about yogurt, shall we?


Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Aslam, Hajara et al. “The effects of dairy and dairy derivatives on the gut microbiota: a systematic literature review.” Gut microbes vol. 12,1 (2020): 1799533. doi:10.1080/19490976.2020.1799533
  2. Aljuraiban, Ghadeer S et al. “Relations between dairy product intake and blood pressure: the INTERnational study on MAcro/micronutrients and blood Pressure.” Journal of hypertension vol. 36,10 (2018): 2049-2058. doi:10.1097/HJH.0000000000001779
  3. Bourrie, Benjamin C T et al. “The Microbiota and Health Promoting Characteristics of the Fermented Beverage Kefir.” Frontiers in microbiology vol. 7 647. 4 May. 2016, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.00647

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