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Taking another look at whole milk yogurt

The yogurt section is shown at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco.Associated Press Photo/Eric Risberg

Stroll through the dairy aisle of your grocery store and you may notice that fat is back — at least in the yogurt case.

Although lowfat and nonfat yogurts still dominate, according to market research firm Mintel there has been an 2,675 percent increase in the number of whole milk yogurts on store shelves in the past decade.

With its rich flavor and super-creamy texture, switching to whole milk yogurt could be a revelation for your taste buds. Plus, you might not need to choose between health and taste.

Scientists are just now starting to dig into the research, says Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. It suggests is that there may be health benefits to whole-fat dairy.


Consumer Reports’ food testers evaluated 23 whole milk regular and Greek yogurts in two flavors, plain and berry. The yogurts were: 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt, Dannon Oikos Plain Whole Milk Greek Yogurt, Liberté Organic Baja Strawberry Whole Milk Yogurt, and Fage Total Strawberry Whole Milk Greek Yogurt.

“In observational studies we see clear associations between consumption of all types of yogurt and lower risk of obesity, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes,” says Mario Kratz, an associate member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Theories abound about why yogurt might be beneficial. One is that it’s loaded with protein, which some experts believe could help prevent weight gain by making you feel fuller, longer. But it may be more likely that other factors are responsible, Kratz says, such as the probiotics (good bacteria) or the complex mixture of micronutrients, vitamins, minerals (such as calcium), and fatty acids — of which dairy products have about 400 types.

Still, it could be that yogurt eaters are healthier to begin with, he says, or that they have yogurt in place of a less healthy snack. Similarly, it’s not clear which type of yogurt — whole-milk or lowfat — has a nutritional advantage. For now, you should factor any whole-milk yogurt you eat into your daily saturated fat intake.


Consumer Reports’ tests found that fat and sugars vary across brands. “You really need to compare nutrition labels,” says Ellen Klosz, a Consumer Reports nutritionist who led the testing.

Certain sweetened yogurts can have more added sugars than some ice creams. But even plain yogurt contains sugars from the naturally occurring lactose in milk, so if you opt for flavored yogurt, check the ingredients lists to see how many kinds of sugars are listed.

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