What’s in your yogurt cup? Cultured milk? Oats? Almonds? Soy? Coconut with pea protein? Our 8-step guide to the best yogurts applies to them all. Keep reading for our take on the latest probiotic, lower-sugar, and plant-based yogurts.

Click here for our chart of Best Bites and Honorable Mentions.

1. Slash the added sugar.

Our Best Bites have none. That’s because they’re plain dairy yogurts or they add sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit extract, but not sucralose, aspartame, or acesulfame potassium, which we rate as “avoid.” (See chemicalcuisine.org.)

Exception: “Plain” soy and other plant-based yogurts typically are sweetened unless the label says they’re not. Most add a teaspoon or two of sugar to make up for the naturally occurring milk sugar they lack.

Don’t like plain dairy yogurt? Our Honorable Mentions have no more than 9 grams (2 tsp.) of added sugar in a 5 or 6 oz. container.

2. Mind the mix-ins.

Many Chobani Flips, Noosa Mates, and their kin add more sugar (from honey roasted nuts, dark chocolate, etc.) to their already-sweet yogurt. Most Chobani yogurts with oatmeal are also too sugary. Forget Flip & friends.

Instead, get more yogurt for your buck from a Best Bite or Honorable Mention. Want toppings? Add your own toasted nuts or seeds, low-sugar bran flakes, or fresh or frozen berries, peaches, mango, or other fruit.

3. Look for 0% to 2% milkfat.

That means nonfat to lowfat. Any higher (3% and up) means whole milk or whole milk plus cream, which does your heart no favors. That’s why our Best Bites and Honorable Mentions have no more than 2 grams of saturated fat per serving (2½ grams for 7 oz. containers).

Plant-based yogurts that add little or no coconut or coconut oil come in under the limit. Plus many of them have extra healthy fats from nuts, soy, or other oils.

4. Check the protein.

A serving of our Best Bites or Honorable Mentions has at least 6 grams, the amount in a non-Greek dairy yogurt. Greek yogurt and Icelandic skyr have at least twice that much, while many plant-based yogurts fall short.

But don’t be fooled by The Greek Gods “Greek Style” yogurt. Unlike most Greek yogurts, it isn’t strained—that concentrates the protein—so it has roughly half the protein of Fage or Chobani.


fruit nuts and yogurt
Add fruit or nuts to plain yogurt. It’s hard to find one creamier than Fage Total 0% or 2% Greek.
Lindsay Moyer/CSPI.

5. Look at calcium.

Best Bites and Honorable Mentions have at least 10 percent of the Daily Value. That’s what you get in most Greeks, which lose some calcium when they’re strained.

Too bad some plant-based yogurts add little or no calcium. That goes for Chobani, Activia, Forager Project, Kite Hill Almond Milk, and Siggi’s. In contrast, Silk, So Delicious, Oatly, and others add enough calcium to match dairy.

6. Don’t expect vitamin D.

Unlike milk, yogurt often has no added vitamin D. Some exceptions: most Oikos Triple Zero, Oikos Pro, GoodBelly, and So Delicious add 10 percent of a day’s worth.

7. Go lactose-free if you need to.

Yogurt cultures help digest its lactose (milk sugar). So even if you have lactose intolerance, you might be able to handle more than you think.

If not, look for brands that add lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose. Or go plant-based.

8. Try to minimize the plastic.

Many companies claim that their plastic No. 5 (polypropylene) tubs are recyclable. Not so fast.

Ever notice the “not recycled in all communities” in small print on some labels? And even if your town collects No. 5 yogurt tubs, they may not get recycled. Ditto for No. 6 (polystyrene).

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do other than look for the rare (and typically pricier) brands—like Nounos—that are packed in glass.

A bigger tub may save a little plastic per serving, but only if it’s made with a thinner plastic (like Chobani), rather than a thicker plastic (like Fage).

Got time? Make your own yogurt. Simple how-to guides abound online.

Pick a probiotic?

good belly probiotics vanilla yogurt
Do probiotics curb belly woes? The evidence is skimpy.

The evidence is unimpressive, so don’t choose your yogurt by its bugs alone. Here’s what we know about some popular strains:

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosusGG (LGG). It’s in Chobani Probiotic, which touts “immune health + digestive health + gut health.” But no good studies have tested whether LGG helps prevent colds or flu. And while an analysis of 12 trials in nearly 1,500 people found that LGG may cut the risk of diarrhea from antibiotics, the evidence was stronger for children than for adults.1
  • Bifidobacterium lactisDN-173 010. It’s in Activia, which Dannon says “may help reduce the frequency of minor digestive discomfort” (gas, bloating, rumbling, etc.) if you eat two servings a day for two weeks. Yet symptoms improved (modestly) in only one of the two trials of Activia—both funded by Dannon.2,3
  • Bifidobacterium lactisBB-12. “May help support healthy digestion when consumed daily,” says GoodBelly Probiotics. But in the best study—of 1,248 adults who reported just two to four bowel movements a week—those who took the BB-12 dose in GoodBelly daily for four weeks had no more bowel movements than placebo takers.4

Caitlin Dow

1Aliment. Pharmacol. Ther. 42: 1149, 2015. 
2Br. J. Nutr. 102: 1654, 2009. 
3Neurogastroenterol. Motil. 25: 331, 2013. 
4Br. J. Nutr. 114: 1638, 2015.

Going, going...gone?

Siggi's, two good, and Chobani yogurts in a stack
Plenty sweet, thanks to stevia or (a little) added sugar.
Lindsay Moyer/CSPI.

It’s easier than ever to find a sweet-tasting yogurt that’s not sugar laden. Some of the best:

  • No added sugar. Instead of sugar, Best Bite Chobani Complete adds stevia and monk fruit extract. Two Good (made by Dannon) adds only stevia. The stevia in both is Reb M, a newer extract that tastes more like sugar.

Too bad Two Good just misses a Best Bite. It’s lower in calcium than other Greek yogurts. That may be because of its “unique slow straining.” (Dannon doesn’t say.)

  • A teaspoon or less of added sugar. Instead of low-calorie sweeteners like stevia, these Honorable Mentions add just a little sugar, but they still taste plenty sweet: Chobani Probiotic and Less Sugar have only 1 teaspoon of added sugar per serving. So do most of the Siggi’s 2% varieties. And Fage BestSelf adds just half a teaspoon.

Before you buy, check the ingredients for chicory root (aka inulin). The processed fiber, which often shows up in lower-sugar yogurts (Fage BestSelf, Chobani Complete, Chobani Probiotic), gives some people gas. If that’s you, try Chobani Less Sugar, Two Good, or Siggi’s.

Dairy-free decisions


Silk and activia plant-based diary free yogurts in a stack
Silk and Activia drop the dairy but are still delish.
Lindsay Moyer/CSPI.

Dropping dairy? You have more “yogurt alternatives” to choose from than ever before. Nearly all miss a Best Bite or Honorable Mention...but some come closer than others.

  • Coconut. It’s a big chunk of the plant-based yogurt market, probably because coconut’s creamy texture helps mimic milk’s. But—unlike the healthy fat in almonds or soy—nearly all of coconut’s fat is saturated, to the tune of 4 to 8 grams in a 5.3 oz. tub.

Strike two: Most brands have next-to-no protein. (They’ve got about 1 gram.) Exception: Siggi’s Plant-Based Coconut Blend adds enough pea protein and macadamias to hit 10 grams. And most flavors boast just 1½ teaspoons of added sugar and creaminess to spare. But if you want calcium from your yogurt, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

  • Oat. Oats make an über-creamy plant-based milk, but we found many “oatgurts” to be a little gelatinous or sticky. And most brands are low in protein (around 3 grams per serving).
  • Almond. Two brands have enough almonds (Silk) or almonds plus fava bean protein (Activia) to hit 5 grams of protein, just 1 gram shy of our minimum for Best Bites and Honorable Mentions. Both are yummy.

Of the two, only Silk adds calcium. Its almond yogurt has 10 percent of a day’s worth, compared to Activia’s 4 percent. But Silk also adds more sugar (to all its flavors except Plain and Unsweet Vanilla).

  • Soy. The old standby comes closest to the taste of dairy. It’s also a reliable source of protein (around 6 grams per serving) and is higher in potassium than plantgurts made from coconut, oats, or almonds.

Of the two big soy brands—Silk and Stonyfield Organic—we’d go with Silk. It tastes great, and you’ll save about 2 teaspoons of added sugar.

Photos: ponce_photography/pixabay.com (top), GoodBelly, Lindsay Moyer/CSPI (all others).