Incorporating Yogurt into Your Heart Healthy Diet Plan

These days when I get to the yogurt section in my supermarket my eyes sort of glaze over, when did yogurt become so confusing? There’s low fat, nonfat, regular, Greek, Light, “100” versions, flavored, plain, vanilla.

Yogurt is a heart-healthy choice that can be included in the DASH Diet eating plan. It’s a good source of calcium and potassium; offers some protein, and is good for your gut health. It makes a great snack and can be used in recipes or as a substitute for sour cream in baking and cooking.

How do you choose? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Value. Consider your budget and look for sale items. Often store brands are a great buy and offer similar variety in terms of flavors.
  • Calories. Most sugar-sweetened nonfat yogurts provide about 110-140 calories per 5-ounce cup, while yogurt sweetened with non-nutritive (calorie-free) sweeteners can be as low as 60-100 calories a cup. Choose what’s best for you depending on your calorie budget and preference. For instance, an 80-calorie sugar-free cup may suit those with diabetes or those who are working on weight loss.
  • Flavor. The smaller flavored cups make quick snacks and are great for lunch boxes. Flavored yogurt makes a great substitute for dessert (instead of indulging in coconut cream pie or strawberry cheesecake every day for lunch, you can enjoy a cup of yogurt for a fraction of the calories!).
  • Cooking. You may also consider purchasing a quart sized container of plain Greek yogurt. Having the plain yogurt on hand is perfect for smoothies, cooking, baking, or creating your own yogurt parfait flavors. You can add a touch of sweetness to plain yogurt by stirring in maple or agave syrup, then layering yogurt with fresh berries, banana slices, and granola, to create a parfait.
  • Your Choice. Don’t fall for misleading label claims. Whether your favorite yogurt is sweetened with sugar (sucrose), fructose, high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, sucralose or acesulfame potassium, it can be a wholesome part of your diet. It’s important to balance your diet with a variety of foods that you enjoy from each food group. One or two servings of yogurt a day can help you meet the 2-3 daily servings of dairy recommended.


Rosanne RustRosanne Rust MS, RDN, LDN is a registered, licensed dietitian-nutritionist with over 25 years experience. As a Nutrition Communications Consultant  she delivers clear messages helping you understand the science of nutrition so you can enjoy eating for better health. Rosanne is the co-author of several books, including DASH Diet For Dummies® and the The Glycemic Index Cookbook For Dummies®. A wife, and mother of 3 boys, she practices what she preaches, enjoying regular exercise, good food and festive entertaining. Follow her on Twitter @RustNutrition.