This one is easy to get wrong, says Kim Snyder, nutritionist for celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Channing Tatum and author of The Beauty Detox Solution. After all, yogurt is always made of wholesome dairy and fresh fruit right? Wrong. “Yogurt can contain tons of sugar. Read the label and you’ll see yogurt often contains high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings and artificial colors. One small container of fat-free yogurt can have upwards of 28 to 31 grams of sugar,” says Snyder.
New York City dietician Gans also avoids “light” yogurts. So when she still wants the dairy, but not the added sugar, “I much prefer to go with a low-fat Greek yogurt for a little extra calories and whole lot more protein. In some comparisons, an additional 8 g [of protein] per serving,” she says. “The creamy taste of Greek is more satisfying to me than the artificially sweetened.”
Low-fat dairy can be a healthy addition to your diet, by increasing your calcium and protein intake, which can help you feel fuller longer. But Snyder argues that there are lots of other sources of dietary calcium besides yogurt and milk that can be even better for you.
“Cow’s milk does in fact have a lot of calcium in it, but much of it is not easily assimilated or used by the body. There is a lot of phosphorus in dairy products that binds to the calcium in our digestive tracts and makes most of the calcium impossible to absorb,” says Snyder. “Plus, dairy products are extremely acidic in the body. An increased acid load in the body causes you to lose calcium from your bones.”
Snyder recommends plant sources of calcium that are not acid-forming, like dark leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds. “Try switching to coconut yogurt or chia seed pudding. Coconut yogurt is available at grocery stores in a variety of flavors and it’s easy to digest.”