|Food||Percentage of DRI per 100 grams|
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Yogurt, grass-fed provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Yogurt, grass-fed can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Yogurt, grass-fed, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.
- Health Benefits
- How to Select and Store
- How to Enjoy
- Individual Concerns
- Nutritional Profile
"Probiotic" is a term used to describe foods and supplements that contain living micro-organisms. Bacteria are by far the most common type of micro-organism found in probiotics, but there are some probiotic supplements in the marketplace that are yeast-based.
While most commercially sold yogurts contain some living bacteria and might very loosely be referred to as "probiotic" for this reason, it's definitely incorrect to think about all yogurts as being equivalent in terms of their probiotic benefits. For example, some yogurts in the marketplace may contain less than 1,000 bacteria per gram. While that number might sound large, it's actually quite small when you are talking about bacteria. While there are no required industry standards for labeling a yogurt as "probiotic," a commonly adopted voluntary standard in the industry is at least 1,000,000 living bacteria per gram of yogurt.
Since measurement of living versus dead bacteria in a yogurt can be complicated, most companies also report the live bacteria content of their yogurt in terms of "cfu" or "colony forming units. CFUs are best thought of as viable bacterial cells that capable of multiplying and forming larger colonies of bacteria. It's also worth noting here that in scientific notation, the number one million (1,000,000) is typically written as 106. So you might see a phrase like "106 CFUs" on package information about yogurt. This phrase tells you that the yogurt contained at least 1,000,000 viable bacterial cells at the time when it was manufactured. The National Yogurt Association (NYA) has adopted this 106 CFU standard for any fresh yogurt displaying its "Live and Active Cultures" (LAC) seal.
Since the NYA program is voluntary, many yogurt manufacturers choose to provide direct information about live bacterial cultures on product labels instead of displaying an LAC seal. (Of course, some manufacturers do both.) For this reason, it's common to see phrases like "live probiotic cultures," "live cultures," "active cultures," or "probiotic cultures" on yogurt packaging. In research studies on yogurt, we've seen yogurts that contain as many as 109 CFUs per gram, which means one billion viable bacterial cells per gram of yogurt.
The specific types of bacteria found in yogurt vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. However, some species are used much more commonly than others. Starter cultures used to begin the yogurt fermentation process rely on lactic acid bacteria like Lactobacillus and Streptococcus to convert lactose (milk sugar) into lactic acid. (The increased acidity helps proteins in the milk coagulate and bring more thickness to the yogurt.) Later on in the yogurt production process, additional bacteria may be added; one common type used at this stage of production is Bifidobacterium.
Most of the research on live culture yogurts shows the ability of live bacteria in yogurt to become metabolically active in our digestive tract and to support digestion and absorption of nutrients. Consumption of probiotic yogurts has also been show to help steady the passage of food through our digestive tract and to lessen the risk of certain digestive problems (such as diarrhea). Studies have also shown the ability of yogurt bacteria to convert food sugars found inside our digestive tract into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs can then be used as an energy source for cells that line our large intestine, providing better function in that part of our digestive tract.
Even before the yogurt is consumed, live cultures may set the stage for health benefits by transforming the nutrient content of the yogurt itself. For example, while you're likely to get 5-6 grams of lactose (milk sugar) in one half cup of grass-fed cow's milk, one half cup of grass-fed yogurt is likely to provide you with only 3-4 grams due to the breakdown of lactose by live bacteria in the yogurt.
If digestive benefits are among your top reasons for considering inclusion of yogurt in your meal plan, we recommend selection of yogurts clearly labeled to have one million or more active bacterial cultures (CFUs). However, we also believe that grass-fed, cow's milk yogurt can provide you with important health benefits even if the amount of active bacteria in the yogurt is much smaller.
Blood Sugar Benefits
The combination of strong protein content with live bacterial cultures makes yogurt a food with blood sugar benefits, even though it is a food lacking in fiber. (Most diets focused on better blood sugar balance emphasize the importance of high-fiber foods that help regulate the pace of digestion and prevent too quick digestion and release of food sugars.) Protein is an ideal nutrient for blood sugar support because it digests at a moderate rate and is associated with better regulation of appetite. As a good source of protein, yogurt makes sense as a food that would provide blood sugar benefits. While the lack of fiber might be expected to be a drawback for yogurt in its potential for supporting blood sugar, this lack of fiber appears to be offset by the presence of live bacteria in yogurt. These live bacteria—especially in probiotic yogurts containing at least millions (106) of live bacteria per gram—have the ability to take food sugars found inside our digestive tract (not only sugars directly contained in the yogurt but any sugars that are present in the digestive tract) and convert them into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs can then be used as an energy source for cells that line our large intestine, providing better function in that part of our digestive tract. At the same time, these sugars become unavailable for absorption and cannot trigger any unwanted spike in our blood sugar.
Broad Nutrient Support
It's important to recognize the diverse range of nutrients provided by grass-fed yogurt. With the exception of dietary fiber, virtually all key nutrient groups are represented in the nutritional profile of grass-fed yogurt. We're talking about all B-vitamins, most key minerals, proteins with the vast majority of amino acids in good supply, high-quality fats like omega-3s and CLA, and also phytonutrients like sphingosine and sphinganine. In addition to this nutrient diversity, yogurts with a sufficient number of live bacterial cultures ("probiotic" yogurts) can provide us with an even greater nutritional diversity because their bacteria can continue to metabolize food and transform nutrients after the yogurt has been consumed. It's worth remembering that yogurt is similar to all traditionally fermented foods in this respect: it belongs to a group of foods that are especially diverse in nutrient content.
We've seen preliminary studies connecting yogurt intake with decreased appetite (which does not surprise us, given the protein-rich nature of this food), better immune system function, and better bone support. In one small-scale study with HIV-positive women, 4 ounces of live culture yogurt per day over a month's period of time was able to decrease digestive and vaginal problems. In several studies on dairy products and bone health, fermented dairy products like yogurt have been shown to decrease bone risk.
Studies on yogurt intake and cancer risk have been mixed. There has been a good bit of speculation about the presence of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1 and IGF-2) in cow's milk and the role it might play in increased cancer risk, but we have nevertheless seen studies showing protective effects for certain cancers from intake of yogurt. We have also seen a study showing decreased risk of bladder cancer in association with yogurt intake of 2 or more servings per day (the serving size was not specified), even though this same study showed no protective effect from either cheese or overall dairy intake.
With respect to these other broad areas of potential health benefit, we suspect that the impact of yogurt on the digestive tract may play a key role. Digestion can be a highly individual process, and individuals who do well on yogurt and find it to be a food that improves their digestive tract health may be the same individuals who derive other important health benefits as well. But we also look forward to additional research in these other areas of potential health benefit.
Dairy and Non-Dairy Yogurt
Yogurt can be made from either animal or plant foods. Animal-based yogurts are often referred to as "dairy" yogurts and plant-based yogurts as "non-dairy" yogurts. Dairy yogurts can be made from virtually any type of milk including cow's milk, sheep's milk, and goat's milk. Soy milk and coconut milk yogurts are non-dairy products that have also become popular. As a general rule, non-dairy yogurts are less concentrated in protein than dairy yogurts but contain more fiber. Live bacterial cultures can be present in equivalent amounts in both dairy and non-dairy yogurts, depending on the fermentation and production process used by the manufacturer. In the case of soy milk, it's worth noting here that not all manufacturers use traditional fermentation processes or produce soy yogurts containing live bacterial cultures. For example, some soy yogurts are made by blending tofu with other ingredients, yet never subjecting the mixture to a bacterial fermentation process.
While we profile grass-fed yogurt from cow's milk on our website, we recognize that some people may prefer non-dairy yogurts and we believe that these types of yogurts can also provide health benefits. If you decide to include soy milk yogurt, coconut milk yogurt, or other non-dairy yogurts in your meal plan, we believe that your best health benefits are most likely to come from products that have been fermented and that contain live bacterial cultures.
Greek Style Yogurt
Approximately 4 billion pounds of yogurt are manufactured in the U.S. each year, and about 35% is now produced and consumed in the form of Greek style yogurt. Greek style yogurt is essentially strained yogurt. When made according to traditional methods, Greek style yogurt begins with traditional fermentation of yogurt and after the fermentation process is completed, the yogurt is strained using filters and sometimes spinning to remove a significant portion of the watery whey. The result is a thicker and creamier yogurt.
Unlike the name suggests, Greek style yogurt is not a food that originated specifically in Greece. It was originally enjoyed throughout the Middle East and is sometimes referred to in Arabic as laban or labneh. Although Greek style yogurt in the U.S. is almost always purchased in fresh liquid, many Middle Eastern countries also have a tradition of drying strained yogurt so that it can be more easily stored and transported. Sheep milk, goat milk, and camel milk are common sources for strained yogurt in the Middle East.
Most U.S. groceries offer Greek style yogurt in whole, low-fat, and non-fat versions. Non-fat Greek style yogurt is unique in its ability to provide more concentrated protein than any other type of yogurt. It's not unusual to get 12-13 grams of protein in just 4 ounces of non-fat Greek style yogurt. By comparison, 4 ounces of whole milk Greek style yogurt is likely to provide you with about 7-8 grams of protein in 4 ounces, while 4 ounces of non-Greek style, whole milk yogurt offers about 6-7 grams. While all of these yogurts provide you with a valuable amount of protein, non-fat Greek style yogurt is recommended if your primary goal is to maximize the protein content of your yogurt.
One final note about Greek style yogurt: not all of it is made according to traditional fermentation and straining techniques. Due to the rapid growth in popularity of this yogurt type, some manufacturers are working to meet the marketplace need by taking tapioca or other thickeners and adding them to non-strained yogurt, together with supplemental protein in order to match the amount in traditionally strained Greek style yogurt. While these "no-strain" Greek style yogurts may match traditional Greek style yogurts in texture and protein content, we consider them to be a further step away from whole, natural food and recommend traditionally fermented and strained products when choosing Greek yogurt.
Basics of Yogurt Making
The simplest of yogurt-making processes involve nothing more than milk, heat, and what is called a "starter culture." Starter cultures typically contain lactic acid bacteria (LAB) and often specifically include Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles. After the milk is heated to a temperature of approximately 180°F and then allowed to cool to approximately 110°F, the starter culture is added and the mixture is kept for another 3-5 hours at the same constant low temperature (110°F). This initial 3-5 hour period of time is referred to as "incubation." At the end of the incubation period, the yogurt is refrigerated and then ready for eating.
The basics of yogurt making are simple enough for you to accomplish at home. Thanks to the National Center for Home Food Preservation—a website put together by researchers and educators at university extension services throughout the U.S. together with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—we have posted easy-to-follow homemade yogurt information on our website. We have posted that that information here. You can also visit the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation at http://nchfp.uga.edu/.
Yogurt making appears to have originated in the Middle East and Central Asia, even though researchers have been unable to pin down the exact time frame for this development. Camels, sheep, goats, and other animals were the primary sources of milk for yogurt since cows had yet to be domesticated. (In North America, buffalo and bison milk are two further examples of animal milks used to make yogurt prior to the domestication of cows.) Many cultures also developed techniques for drying their liquid yogurt so that it had a longer shelf life and could be more easily stored and transported. It became very common for certain nomadic cultures to rely on dried yogurt as part of their staple food.
Today, cow's milk has become the primary source for commercially produced yogurt, and this food is enjoyed in fresh liquid form worldwide. Yogurt consumption in the U.S. is about 4 times greater than it was in the 1980's, and averages about 11-12 pounds per person per year. (This amount is much smaller than would be found in other parts of the world. For example, in Europe, yogurt consumption averages closer to 65-70 pounds per person). Nearly 4 billion pounds of yogurt are manufactured annually in the U.S. each year, and due to the increasing popularity of Greek-style yogurt, nearly 1.5 billion pounds are manufactured in that form.
As sources of grass-fed yogurt, small local dairies have become increasingly popular across the U.S. One website that can help you find local grass-fed dairies in your area is www.eatwild.com. On this website, you can find a map of the United States that allows you to click on your state and find local dairies that are pasture-focused and engage in yogurt production.
How to Select and Store
In addition to Shopping For Yogurt chart presented at the beginning of this profile, we'd like to give you some additional suggestions about yogurt selection. First, it is not necessary to purchase a non-pasteurized, raw milk yogurt if you want to obtain live bacterial cultures. Most manufacturers add live cultures to their yogurt after the milk has been pasteurized. Second, it is also not necessary to select a Greek style yogurt in order to get full health benefits. As we have indicated in our Shopping For Yogurt chart, grass feeding and organic certification are the key factors here. However, if Greek style yogurt is your favorite, we encourage you to enjoy it without reservation! Just look for organic, grass-fed Greek style yogurt either in a whole foods grocery or at a local pasture-based dairy farm.
Check the expiration date on the side of the yogurt container to make sure that it is still fresh. Shelf life is especially important for fresh, live culture yogurt if you want to enjoy optimal health benefits, so it's definitely worthwhile to respect the expiration dates. Avoid yogurts that have artificial colors, flavorings, or sweeteners. Additionally, while fruit-filled yogurt can be a delicious treat, be aware that oftentimes these yogurt products contain excess sugar. We recommend the purchase of plain yogurts for this reason, with the addition of fresh fruits or other foods to the yogurt at home as desired.
Store yogurt in the refrigerator in its original container. To get the full health benefits from your yogurt—including the live culture benefits—observe the yogurt's expiration date and discard or compost if it has expired.
It's also worth remembering that yogurt making is not a difficult process and simple enough for you to accomplish at home. Thanks to the National Center for Home Food Preservation—a website put together by researchers and educators at university extension services throughout the U.S. together with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture—we have posted easy-to-follow homemade yogurt information on our website. You can go directly to that information by clicking here. You can also visit the website of the National Center for Home Food Preservation at http://nchfp.uga.edu/.
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Toss cubes of cooked eggplant with plain yogurt, chopped mint leaves, garlic and cayenne.
- Add chopped cucumber and dill weed to plain yogurt. Eat this delicious and cooling salad as is or use as an accompaniment to grilled chicken or lamb.
- Yogurt parfaits are a visual as well as delicious treat. In a large wine glass, alternate layers of yogurt and your favorite fruits.
- Yogurt is a great base for salad dressings. Simply place plain yogurt in the blender with enough water to achieve your desired consistency. Add to this your favorite herbs and spices.
- Mix cold cereal or granola with yogurt for a twist on the traditional cereal and milk breakfast.
For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.
Adverse Reactions to Yogurt
As a cow's milk (dairy) product, yogurt is a food more consistently associated with problematic reactions than other foods. Although fermented dairy products are linked with fewer adverse reactions than non-fermented ones, the possibility of an adverse reaction to yogurt is still more common than expected. We've created a special Q & A on adverse reactions to cow's milk per se, including cow's milk allergy and cow's milk intolerance. While the research that we report in this Q & A is not always applicable to fermented dairy foods including yogurt, it may still provide you with helpful information when considering the role of yogurt in your meal plan. See here for this this detailed Q & A.
Production and Processing of Yogurt
Nationally marketed yogurts are typically made from homogenized and pasteurized milks. Even though live cultures are typically added to yogurt after the pasteurization process (avoiding destruction of helpful bacteria during pasteurization), questions have still been raised by consumers and scientists about the production and processing of cow's milk that is used in manufacture of yogurt. We've created in-depth Q & As in the areas of milk homogenization and milk pasteurization.
Some animal foods and some plants foods have been the subject of ongoing controversy that extends well beyond the scope of food, nutrient-richness, and personal health. This controversy often involves environmental issues, or issues related to the natural lifestyle of animals or to the native habitat for plants. Yogurt has been a topic of ongoing controversy in this regard. Our Controversial Foods Q & A will provide you with more detailed information about these issues.
Grass-fed yogurt provides CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a health-supportive fatty acid often absent from non grass-fed yogurts. Grass-fed yogurt is a very good source of iodine, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and calcium. It is also a good source of vitamin B2, molybdenum, pantothenic acid, protein, zinc, and biotin.
For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Yogurt, grass-fed.
In-Depth Nutritional ProfileIn addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Yogurt, grass-fed is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.
Introduction to Food Rating System ChartIn order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.
Yogurt, grass fed, whole milk
|iodine||71.05 mcg||47||5.7||very good|
|vitamin B12||0.91 mcg||38||4.6||very good|
|phosphorus||232.75 mg||33||4.0||very good|
|calcium||296.45 mg||30||3.6||very good|
|vitamin B2||0.35 mg||27||3.2||good|
|pantothenic acid||0.95 mg||19||2.3||good|
Density>=7.6 AND DRI/DV>=10%
Density>=3.4 AND DRI/DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DRI/DV>=2.5%
In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Yogurt, grass-fed
- Baharav E, Mor F, Halpern M, Weinberger A. Lactobacillus GG Bacteria Ameliorate Arthritis in Lewis Rats. J Nutr. 2004 Aug;134(8):1964-1969. 2004. PMID:15284384.
- Borrego F, Robertson MJ, Ritz J, Pena J, Solana R. CD69 is a stimulatory receptor for natural killer cell and its cytotoxic effect is blocked by CD94 inhibitory receptor. Immunology. 1999 May;97(1):159-65. 1999. PMID:10447727.
- Cheng S, Lyytikainen A, Kroger H, Lamberg-Allardt C, Alen M, Koistinen A, Wang QJ, Suuriniemi M, Suominen H, Mahonen A, Nicholson PH, Ivaska KK, Korpela R, Ohlsson C, Vaananen KH, Tylavsky F. Effects of calcium, dairy product, and vitamin D supplementation on bone mass accrual and body composition in 10-12-y-old girls: a 2-y randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Nov;82(5):1115-26. 2005. PMID:16280447.
- Ciampa L. Consumer groups seek to ban growth hormone for dairy cows. Linda Ciampa CNN.com. June 15, . 1999.
- Cornish J, Callon KE, Naot D, Palmano KP, Banovic T, Bava U, Watson M, Lin JM, Tong PC, Chen Q, Chan VA, Reid HE, Fazzalari N, Baker HM, Baker EN, Haggarty NW, Grey AB, Reid IR. Lactoferrin is a potent regulator of bone cell activity and increases bone formationin vivo. Endocrinology. 2004 Sep;145(9):4366-74. 2004. PMID:15166119.
- Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986. 1986. PMID:15210.
- Fabian E, Elmadfa I. Influence of daily consumption of probiotic and conventional yoghurt on the plasma lipid profile in young healthy women. Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(4):387-93. Epub 2006 Jun 30 . 2006. PMID:16816529.
- Fortes C, Forastiere F, Farchi S, et al. Diet and overall survival in a cohort of very elderly people. Epidemiology 2000 Jul;11(4):440-5. 2000.
- Gill HS, Rutherfurd KJ, Cross ML. Enhancement of immunity in the elderly by dietary supplementation with probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis HN019. Am J Clin Nutr 2001 Dec 74;74(6):833-9. 2001.
- Gunther CW, Lyle RM, Legowski PA, James JM, McCabe LD, McCabe GP, Peacock M, Teegarden D. Fat oxidation and its relation to serum parathyroid hormone in young women enrolled in a 1-y dairy calcium intervention. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Dec;82(6):1228-34. 2005. PMID:16332655.
- Heaney RP, Davies KM, Barger-Lux MJ. Calcium and weight: clinical studies. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Apr; 21(2): 152S-155S. 2002.
- Hilton E, Isenberg HD, Alperstein P, et al. Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis. Ann Intern Med 1992 Mar 1;116(5):353-7. 1992.
- Hojo K, Ohshima T, Yashima A, Gomi K, Maeda N. Effects of Yoghurt on the Human Oral Microbiota and Halitosis. Paper presented at the 83rd General Session, International Association for Dental Research, Baltimore, MD, March 10, 2005. 2005.
- Larsson SC, Bergkvist L, Wolk A. High fat dairy food and conjugated linoleic acide intakes in relation to colorectal cancer incidence in the Swedish Mammography Cohort. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Oct;82(4):894-900. 2005. PMID:16210722.
- Meydani SN, Ha WK. Immunologic effects of yogurt. Am J Clin Nutr 2000 Apr;71(4):861-72. 2000.
- Meyer AL, Micksche M, Herbacek I, Elmadfa I. Daily intake of probiotic as well as conventional yogurt has a stimulating effect on cellular immunity in young healthy women. Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(3):282-9. Epub 2006 Feb 23. 2006. PMID:16508257.
- Serafeimidou A, Zlatanos S, Kritikos G, et al.Change of fatty acid profile, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content, during refrigerated storage of yogurt made of cow and sheep milk. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 31, Issue 1, August 2013, Pages 24-30.
- Skinner JD, Bounds W, Carruth BR, Ziegler P. Longitudinal calcium intake is negatively related to children's body fat indexes. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Dec;103(12):1626-31. 2003.
- Villena J, Racedo S, Aguero G, Bru E, Medina M, Alvarez S. Lactobacillus casei Improves Resistance to Pneumococcal Respiratory Infection in Malnourished Mice. J Nutr. 2005 Jun;135(6):1462-9. 2005. PMID:15930453.
- Wang K, Li S, Liu C, Perug D, Su Y, Wu D, Jan C, Lai C, Wang T, Wang W. Effect of ingesting Lactobacillus- and Bifidobacterium-containing yogurt in subjects with colonized Helicobacter pylori. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Sep;80(3):737-41. 2004. PMID:15321816.
- Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. 1988. PMID:15220.
- Zemel M, Richards J, Mathis S, Milstead A, Gebhardt L, Silva E. Dairy augmentation of total and central fat loss in obese subjects. Int J Obesity 2005 January;29:391-397. 2005. PMID:15672113.
- Zemel MB, Thompson W, Milstead A, Morris K, Campbell P. Calcium and dairy acceleration of weight and fat loss during energy restriction in obese adults. Obes Res. 2004 Apr;12(4):582-90. 2004.
- Much grattidtude to George Mateljan,and the George Mateljan Foundation for www.whfoods.com