Looking for a healthier dairy yogurt...or one made from oats, nuts, or soy? Here’s what to look for. For the latest in lower-sugar and dairy-free, scroll down.


1. Give plain a chance.

A plain yogurt is a no-brainer for dodging added sugar...and a blank canvas to pair with any fruit you crave. Creaminess and degree of “tang” vary, so you’ll need to taste around. A good bet: Fage 0% or 2%.

Note: Though plain dairy yogurts add no sugar, some plain dairy-free yogurts add 4 to 9 grams (1 to 2 teaspoons) per serving—roughly equal to the amount of naturally occurring sugar (lactose) in dairy yogurt. Tip: If you want no added sugar, look for “Unsweetened” plain.

Either way, most “plain” yogurts are likely to meet our added-sugar limit for either a Best Bite (none) or an Honorable Mention (no more than 8 grams).

2. For flavored yogurt, have a sugar strategy.

To keep a lid on sugar, pick a yogurt that uses safer sweeteners like stevia extract instead of added sugar. Or go with one that simply adds less sugar. Unsure? Trust your taste buds...and the suggestions below.

3. Stick to 0% to 2% fat.

In the dairy case, that means yogurt made of fat-free or lowfat milk. Nearly all meet our limit for saturated (unhealthy) fat: no more than 2 grams per serving.

Yogurts made from whole milk (like Oui) or crème fraîche (like Häagen-Dazs Cultured Crème) have anywhere from 2½ to 8 grams of sat fat per serving. In fact, the Cultured Crème is like eating a serving of Breyers French Vanilla Ice Cream.

As for dairy-frees, almondmilk and soymilk yogurts stay under 2 grams. Bonus: Almondgurts have extra healthy (unsaturated) fat. Coconutgurts? Nope.

4. Greek, Icelandic, or regular?

They’re all worthy of a Best Bite or Honorable Mention. Some key differences: Greek yogurt and Icelandic skyr have twice as much protein as regular yogurt, while regular yogurt has about 50 percent more calcium.

(Yogurt from cultured ultra-filtered milk like Two Good is similar to Greek. “Ultra­filtering” removes some of the milk’s natural sugar and concentrates its protein.)

Heads up: If protein is your aim, don’t get duped by The Greek Gods “Greek Style” yogurt. Unlike most Greeks, it isn’t strained to concentrate its protein.

Dairy-frees only got Best Bites or Honorable Mentions if they had as much protein as regular yogurt (5 grams per serving) and as much calcium as Greek yogurt, Icelandic skyr, or ultra-filtered cultured milk (8 percent of the Daily Value, or DV).

5. Don’t count on vitamin D.

Unlike milk, yogurt often has no added vitamin D. For example, you’ll get 10 percent of the DV in Two Good, but none in Chobani, and the same 10 percent in Silk’s dairy-frees but none in Siggi’s.

6. Bring your own toppings.

We didn’t include yogurt-plus-topping packs like Chobani Flip in our chart (scroll down). Many toppings are sugary or white-flour junk like chocolate chips or cookie pieces. And they can come with extra packaging that may not get recycled because most cups use No. 5 plastic. Instead, why not add your own fruit and nuts or seeds?

7. Lactose intolerant? Try it anyway.

Yogurt’s cultures help digest its lactose. Or try Fage BestSelf, a plain Best Bite that adds lactase enzyme.

 

8. Try some of our taste-tasters’ favorites.

Line up of yogurt tubs
Marlena Koch - CSPI.

From left to right: 

  • Fage 0% plain: Thick, creamy, not too tangy. You can’t go wrong with this Best Bite (ditto for the 2%).
  • Icelandic Provisions Skyr: Go for the “Thick & Creamy” skyrs. (“Extra Creamy” means whole milk.)
  • Oikos Pro: Ultra-filtered milk plus whey protein gives high-protein Pro a pudding-y texture. Yum.
  • Silk Dairy-Free Plain Soy: Plain, dairy-free, an Honorable Mention...and great taste.
  • Fage 0% Blended Vanilla: Real vanilla bean specks and only 7 grams of added sugar. Mmm.

Dairy-free yogurts

cup of Siggi's plant based coconut blend
One of the few higher-protein plant-based yogurts.
Marlena Koch - CSPI.

The holy grail of plant-based yogurt—no dairy, great taste, little saturated fat, and as much protein and calcium as dairy—is hard to find. The sticking points:

  • Unhealthy fat. It’s easy to see why pricey plant-based yogurts like Culina and Cocojune are trending. Their coconut base yields a thick, creamy, rich texture that comes close to full-fat dairy. The deal-killer downside: 13 to 18 grams of saturated fat (up to 90 percent of a day’s max) in every serving.
  • Taste. Most are disappointing. We weren’t wowed by the gooey texture of Oatly Oatgurt or the slightly bitter taste of Kite Hill Almond Milk yogurt.
  • Tradeoffs. Some of your best bets (despite their downsides): Flavored Almondmilk and Soy yogurts from Silk have as much protein as non-Greek dairy yogurts (5 or 6 grams), but more added sugar (11 to 16 grams) than our Honorable Mentions. Siggi’s Plant-Based yogurts are higher in protein (10 grams) and lower in added sugar (7 or 8 grams), but they’re also higher in sat fat (7 or 8 grams) from coconut and lower in calcium. Sigh. 

Yogurts made with low-cal sweeteners

cup of Oikos Triple Zero Lemon Tart flavored
Want flavors? Triple Zero’s got ‘em...and is a great-tasting Best Bite.
Marlena Koch - CSPI.

Flavored yogurts like Light + Fit Greek and Yoplait Light cut their added sugar to a few grams per serving with help from sucralose and acesulfame potassium, two low-calorie sweeteners we rate as “avoid”.

You can do better. These nonfat and lowfat yogurts replace all of their added sugar with stevia extract, which we rate as “safe,” so they’re all Best Bites:

  • Oikos Triple Zero. The “triple” means zero added sugar, zero artificial sweeteners, and zero milkfat. Nearly a dozen Best Bites to choose from. Nice!
  • Oikos Pro. It’s thick and creamy cultured ultra-filtered milk plus whey protein, so it has more protein (20 grams vs. 15)—and calories (140 vs. 90)—than Triple Zero.
  • Two Good. The cultured ultra-filtered milk yogurt comes close to Oikos Triple Zero (with 80 calories and 12 grams of protein).

Taste-wise, our fave was Oikos. And Two Good beat Siggi’s Lower Sugar Skyr, which had a stronger aftertaste. (Siggi’s 0% and 2% Honorable Mentions—see “Yogurts that just add less sugar” below—tasted perfectly fine.)


Yogurts that just add less sugar

cup of Chobani Less Sugar Greek Yogurt Monterey Strawberry
About 40 percent less sugar than regular Chobani.
Marlena Koch - CSPI.

Don’t love the taste of yogurts that replace some or all of their sugar with low-calorie sweeteners? Try one that simply adds less sugar, like these Honorable Mentions:

  • Chobani Less Sugar Greek Yogurt. Chobani goes lower than its competitors, with only 5 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of added sugar per 5.3 oz. tub.
  • Fage Total 0% Blended Greek Yogurt. It has 6 or 7 grams of added sugar, but the calories (100) are no higher because the yogurt is nonfat. (It’s so thick and creamy, you won’t miss the milkfat.) Bonus: Fage drops in ample chunks of real fruit, unlike Chobani Less Sugar, which only has purée.
  • Skyr. Many brands of skyr—a thick, Greek-like Icelandic yogurt—add no more sugar than Fage. Two to try: Icelandic Provisions Thick & Creamy or (tangier) Siggi’s 0% or 2%.
  • Stonyfield Organic Lowfat Yogurt. Less-sugar non-Greek yogurt is harder to come by. But Stonyfield has four Honorable Mentions: Peach, Raspberry, Strawberry, and Vanilla (7 to 8 grams of added sugar per serving).

Yogurts that cut their sugar down to zero

cup of Chobani Zero Sugar Blueberry
“Zero sugar” also means zero real fruit. The taste? Not so real.
Marlena Koch - CSPI.

Some of the newest yogurts on the shelf don’t just slash added sugar down to zero. They have zero total sugar—so say goodbye to the few remaining grams of naturally occurring milk sugar (lactose) that you’ll find in almost any other yogurt.

Health-wise, does that matter? Not really. It trims the calories slightly—to 50 or 60 per serving—but that’s small potatoes. (And the savings may not be worth it to your taste buds.)

Here’s how these Best Bites make the sugar disappear:

  • Chobani Zero Sugar. Ultra-filtration trims the milk’s natural sugars, and yogurt cultures “eat” the rest. For sweetness, Chobani adds stevia and monk fruit extracts plus 4 grams of allulose, a sugar that is listed as a carbo­hydrate (but not a sugar) on the Nutrition Facts label because it’s poorly absorbed. That means it can cause GI woes, but 4 grams isn’t much, unless you’re sensitive to allulose.
  • Light  +  Fit Zero Sugar. It follows Chobani’s ultra-filtered playbook, but its only sweetener is stevia...and its texture, alas, is a bit watery.

 

Our chart of the the best yogurts

Best Bites (✔✔) have no added sugar. Honorable Mentions (✔) can have up to 8 grams per serving. Both have no more than 2 grams of saturated fat and no sucralose, acesulfame potassium, or food dyes. (Yogurts that contain one or more of those additives in at least one flavor have a • symbol.)

Dairy-free yogurts only get Best Bites or Honorable Mentions if they match or exceed dairy yogurt’s 5 grams of protein and 8% of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium.

Yogurts are ranked from least to most saturated fat and added sugar, then most to least protein and calcium.

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