Written by Aly Bouzek, MS, RDN
Edited and updated by Sandra Gentleman, RD
What is Yogurt?
Dairy yogurt is made by fermenting milk with culture (also known as bacteria). All yogurts have active cultures (live bacteria) and some are a probiotic that can help with gut health.
Common bacteria that’s used to make yogurt includes Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. The bacteria’s job, besides giving yogurt its distinctive flavor, is to create lactic acid from the lactose (milk sugar). And then, voilà! You’ve got yogurt.
Not only is yogurt delicious, but it also has many nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Let’s discuss the differences between dairy yogurt, Greek yogurt, and plant yogurts. We’ll also learn more about the different types of plant yogurts and how to shop for the healthiest versions.
Dairy yogurt is a great source of calcium, protein, vitamins B6 and B12, riboflavin, potassium, and magnesium. These are all important nutrients that, when combined, can offer a lot of health benefits.
Calcium is notorious for supporting bone health. It’s what helps make your bones hard and strong. Calcium’s other roles in your body include muscle contraction, nervous system communication, hormone release, and blood vessel activity.
Even though calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, you still need to make sure that calcium-rich foods are included in your diet. Yogurt is an excellent option to help you get more calcium.
If you’re curious how much calcium you should be consuming, then check out this helpful
fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health.
Other dairy yogurt benefits may include:
- Probiotics to aid in digestion and help with the gut-brain connection for mental health
- Reducing blood pressure
- Reducing diabetes risk
- Supporting weight management
- Soft, moist texture option for those with poor dentition or swallowing difficulty
Dairy yogurt is great for a snack, side, and added to your favorite smoothie recipe. But what about Greek yogurt?
Greek yogurt is strained through a cheesecloth before being packaged for consumption. This process produces a yogurt that is thicker and less watery. Because it is in this “concentrated” form, Greek yogurt offers double the protein when compared to regular dairy yogurt.
There’s one caveat though – Greek yogurt lacks calcium. This is due to the straining process mentioned above. When yogurt is strained to make Greek yogurt, some of the calcium is left behind.
Remember that “watery” portion of yogurt we mentioned? Have you ever opened a container of yogurt and noticed the little bit of water that’s settled on top of the yogurt? That’s actually where a majority of the calcium is found.
When you open a regular dairy yogurt, and see the water on the top, you’re likely to mix it up until your yogurt is smooth. That’s important because that’s what you’re supposed to do! This allows the calcium to mix back into the yogurt and eventually end up in your stomach.
With Greek yogurt, that water is strained away, leaving behind less calcium than is found in regular dairy yogurt. Pretty interesting, right?
What is Plant (Yo)Gurt?
Plant yogurt, or “plant gurt,” is a wonderful alternative to dairy yogurt. If you’re vegan, have troubles digesting dairy, or are allergic to lactose, then you may want to tune in.
There are many types of plant yogurts and those include:
- Soy yogurt (soygurt)
- Coconut yogurt (cocogurt)
- Almond yogurt (almondgurt)
- Cashew yogurt (cashewgurt)
- Pea yogurt (peagurt)
- Oat yogurt (oatgurt)
Plant yogurts offer fiber, have no lactose, and have a lower carbon footprint in comparison to dairy yogurt.
There are a few things to keep in mind regarding the nutrition label and the next plant yogurt you grab at the store.
Check to see if the plant yogurt is plain or flavored. Plain (or unsweetened) plant yogurt is a great choice because it allows you to add whatever toppings you enjoy without added sugar. Adding berries is a great start to sprucing up your plain plant yogurt.
You’ll want to check the fat content. Low fat is the term used for yogurts with 0%, 1%, or 2% fat. High fat is anything above 2% fat. Opting for a low fat plant yogurt will provide fewer calories, less fat, and can help with attaining a healthy weight.
When shopping for a plant yogurt, make sure to check out the amount of protein in comparison to the amount of sugar. You’ll want to choose a plant yogurt when the grams of protein are higher than the grams of sugar. You’ll stay fuller longer, feel more satiated, and will have less of a chance of “crashing” later when your blood sugar returns to normal.
Some plant gurts have added sugar. If this is the case with the one you’re eyeing, then make sure that it has less than 9 grams (2 teaspoons) of sugar per serving. Each 5-6 oz container of yogurt is considered one serving. So, check the nutrition label of those little guys to make sure there are less than 9 grams of sugar.
We mentioned to make sure that the grams of protein are higher than the grams of sugar. Well, while you’re checking out the protein content, you should make sure that it has at least 6 grams of protein per serving.
Finally, check the plant yogurt nutrition label to make sure that there is at least 10% of the Daily Value for calcium. We’ve already discussed why calcium is so important for our bodies to function, so make sure your plant yogurt can hold its own when it comes to calcium.
To recap, when choosing plant yogurts (or even regular dairy yogurts), make sure to choose yogurts that:
- Are plain instead of flavored
- Are low fat (0%, 1%, or 2%) instead of high fat (higher than 2%)
- Have protein grams higher than sugar grams
- Are less than 9 grams (2 tsp) of sugar per serving
- Have at least 6 grams of protein per serving
- Have at least 10% of the Daily Value for calcium
SoyGurt: Is Soy Yogurt High in Sugar?
Soy yogurt is made from soy milk, which is made from soybeans. It’s a good source of protein, is high in potassium, and contains fiber since it is made from a plant source. Soy yogurt is actually higher in potassium than coconut yogurt and oat yogurt.
Soy yogurt may be sweetened with 1-2 teaspoons of sugar to make up for the milk sugar that it’s missing. That brings up the question, is soy yogurt high in sugar?
Is Soy Yogurt High in Sugar?
The amount of sugar in soy yogurt depends on the brand and the flavor. Soy is still a relatively new plant yogurt, so there are not many brands and flavors to date. Today we are sharing 3 different soy yogurt brands.
Please note that all soy yogurts mentioned below have been converted to 5.3 oz (150 grams) for ease of nutrient breakdown comparison.
Currently, there is one company in the US that makes soy yogurt – Silk.
Silk Soymilk Dairy-Free Yogurt comes in 5 different flavors. All are available as single serving sizes (5.3 oz), except the Plain flavor which comes in a 24 oz tub. Unfortunately, Silk does not yet make an unsweetened version of its soymilk yogurt, so the lowest amount of sugar (Plain flavor) is 4.4 grams per serving.
Here is a comparison of Silk Soymilk Dairy-Free Yogurts:
Additionally, there is one Canadian brand of soy yogurt – Yoso Soygo.
Yoso soy yogurt comes in 4 flavors in the tub size, and 4 flavors in their single-serving multipacks. Yoso, like Silk, does not have an unsweetened soy yogurt. Let’s check out a comparison of Yoso Soygo flavors:
Finally, from Australia, is Vitasoy Greek Style Soy Yogurt.
Vitasoy comes in 4 flavors in various tub sizes. Additionally, like Silk and Yoso, Vitasoy does not have unsweetened soy yogurt. Here’s a breakdown of Vitasoy Greek Style Soy Yogurts:
Wrap-Up: Is Soy Yogurt High In Sugar?
The global plant-based food market is supposed to reach about $74 billion dollars by 2027. So, maybe with this expansion additional soy yogurt brands and unsweetened versions will be available.
Based on this information we can answer the question, is soy yogurt high in sugar? The answer is: it depends. Yoso Soygo’s Plain flavor has the lowest grams of sugar (1.7 grams) out of all the flavors of Yoso, Silk, and Vitasoy soy yogurts.
Yoso Soygo’s flavors all have sugar that’s less than 9 grams (remember the nutrition label markers to watch for?). So they do fit the parameters, but only the Plain and Raspberry Yoso Soygo flavors have the correct sugar to protein ratio (grams of sugar less than grams of protein).
Silk’s Plain flavor is the only Silk flavor that has protein grams higher than sugar grams, AND it’s the only flavor that offers less than 9 grams of sugar per serving.
And finally, Vitasoy’s Plain (Thick & Creamy) soy yogurt is that brand’s only soy yogurt with grams of sugar less than the protein amount – coming in at 3 grams of sugar and 10.1 grams of protein per 5.3 oz serving.
As you can see, it depends on the yogurt brand and flavor as to the question, is soy yogurt high in sugar?
If you are looking to try soy yogurt, then we suggest opting for:
- Yoso’s Plain or Raspberry soy yogurt
- Silk’s Plain soy yogurt
- Vitasoy’s Plain (Thick & Creamy) soy yogurt
If you’re interested in learning more about the different kinds of plant gurts, then make sure to head over to our podcast, My Wife the Dietitian, and check out episode #21. You won’t want to miss it!