Is Flavored Yogurt Actually Healthy?

Yogurt has often been depicted as a great health food option. It contains calcium, protein, and a healthy dose of probiotics. But many yogurts today have lots of added sweeteners to increase their flavor. Does this make it a junk food item or do the health benefits still outweigh the extra sugar?

Let's start with the health benefits of plain yogurt. Made from fermenting milk with live cultures, yogurt's main health benefit is its high content of good bacteria. Also called probiotics, these bacteria can improve your gut health and help with digestion (via Cleveland Clinic). They also support a healthy immune system.

Plain yogurt is also high in protein and calcium. Protein keeps you full and helps build strong muscles. (Greek yogurt tends to have the highest protein content.) Calcium is crucial for strong bones and teeth, as well as proper muscle and nerve function. In addition to these nutrients, yogurt consumption has even been tied to maintaining healthy blood pressure and keeping cholesterol levels low.

Is yogurt still good for you if it has added flavorings?

The term "flavored yogurt" can mean many things. Yogurt that is flavored with nothing but fresh fruit, for example, is definitely a great snack option. However, most flavored yogurts you will find in the grocery store are full of added sugars and sweeteners. Some yogurt brands contain over 20 grams of added sugars per serving. According to the American Heart Association, men should eat no more than 36 grams of sugar per day while women should eat no more than 25 grams per day. One container of yogurt with 20 grams of sugar is almost all of your daily recommended intake.

Yogurt can also contain artificial dyes, preservatives, and other added ingredients that aren't good for you. Healthline recommends choosing yogurt with minimal ingredients. Only milk and a few bacteria cultures are necessary to make this dairy treat. Watch out for sugar that goes by other names like sucrose, fruit juice, or agave nectar.

The healthiest way to enjoy flavored yogurt is to make your own at home by adding fruit to plain yogurt. You can also stir in a small amount of honey. If you want a storebought option, look for products that contain the lowest amount of added sugar possible.