Studies have also linked gut health to mental health, immunity, inflammation, and it can even impact the quality of your sleep. In short: Keeping your microbiome healthy is important for a multitude of reasons. But one of the best ways to help keep your gut happy? Probiotics, like those found in fermented foods like yogurt.
"Yogurt is made with live and active cultures, which help to foster the growth of probiotics in the gut. A healthy gut is the basis for overall health and is connected to everything from skin health to mental health," says nutrition expert Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, author of Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen. And the benefits aren't limited to yogurt made with dairy. "Plant-based yogurts can provide the same probiotic benefit as dairy-based yogurts," she says.
You will reap the most benefits if you eat yogurt every day, says Largeman-Roth. That being said, not all yogurts are created equally. When choosing a yogurt, she recommends looking for ones with low or no added sugar. "Added sugars don’t negate the benefits of probiotics, but since we’re all consuming too much added sugar, it’s smart to choose one with lower added sugar. And of course, you can always opt for the unsweetened variety and then add your own fresh fruit. Also, there’s no need for artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavors in your yogurt," she says.
In addition, make sure your yogurt actually contains the live and active cultures that are integral to reaping the gut-friendly benefits. While the FDA mandates that all yogurt must be made with active bacterial cultures, many yogurts are not considered to be rich sources of probiotics because their live cultures may have been eliminated as a result of heat treatment. Take a look at your yogurt's label and check for at least two (but ideally three or four) strains of probiotics.
Below, Largeman-Roth shares the six best yogurts for gut—and overall—health. She recommends these brands because they have a good ratio of protein to added sugar, pack probiotics, and don't contain more than seven grams of added sugar per serving. Find them below, then check out these easy yogurt recipes to incorporate them into your daily routine.
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.
A single serving of this plain yogurt clocks in at an impressive 16 grams of protein—that’s nearly as much as three entire eggs. Sprinkle on some nuts and seeds to add some healthy fats.
This yogurt contains six live and active cultures, which means billions of gut-balancing probiotics per serving. What it doesn’t contain: artificial flavors and sweeteners.
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 healthy strawberry shortcake parfait recipe.
This dairy-free, vegan-friendly yogurt is made from pili nuts, which are native to the Philippines, Northern Australia, and parts of Southeast Asia. The teardrop-shaped nuts are impressive because they contain all eight essential amino acids. The yogurt is sweetened with young plantains, which are low on the glycemic index (meaning they won’t cause your blood sugar to spike) and contain prebiotics.
White Moustache yogurt is handmade, hand-strained, and hand-packed, and it takes three days to make from start to finish—which is why it costs a bit more than the others on this list. It comes in delicious flavors like sour cherry, dates, walnut and honey, and seasonal varieties that make the gut-friendly breakfast food well-worth the extra couple of bucks.
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