Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
13 May

Is All Yogurt Created Equal?

To answer the title, kind of. The same basic principle of yogurt-making applies to all yogurts: the inoculation of milk with specific strains of yogurt bacteria followed by incubation at a temperature warm enough to encourage growth and proliferation. Yogurt is milk transformed into a creamy, tangy, more nutritious product. All yogurt is initially created equal, but after that, all bets are off. For whatever reason, food producers have seen fit to ruin a perfectly good thing with misguided additions and subtractions.

They remove the fat and try to recreate the texture using gums, stabilizers, thickeners, and gelatin.

They load it with sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup, assuming consumers simply can’t handle the tang of real yogurt.

They turn an incredible whole food with thousands of years of tradition into an edible food product that bears little resemblance to its progenitor.

As I see it, there’s yogurt and there’s “yogurt.” Eat the former and avoid the latter.

To get more specific, don’t eat:

Yogurt with added sugar.

Look, I get it: sweet stuff tastes great. But it’s incredible how much sugar disappears into a vat of manufactured yogurt. A tiny little cup of your average sweetened yogurt has 20+ grams of pure unadulterated sucrose, which is far too much (and, like I said, you won’t even taste all of it because it’s been subsumed). If you absolutely must have something sweet with your yogurt, drizzle a little raw honey on the top. Adding honey yourself reduces the amount of sugar grams you need to obtain the desired flavor and ensures direct contact with your tongue. Another, probably better option is to slice up some fruit (blueberries, strawberries, mangos, maybe a banana) and slap it on there.

Yogurt with added thickeners, stabilizers, and emulsifiers.

People love thick yogurt but they’re scared of the fat that creates the texture, so food manufacturers recreate it with additives. Are these additives necessarily dangerous or harmful to health? No, although a recent paper suggests they may increase the risk of obesity by disrupting normal gut bacteria, but why risk it when you can just eat the unaltered whole food? Whenever the jury is out on a particular food, I always play it safe and stick with the “natural” version.

Caveat: I’ve run across a few yogurts and kefirs with added prebiotic fiber (pectin or inulin, usually) and I don’t see much wrong with that. If anything, adding prebiotics to yogurt might actually increase the health effects and support the microbial population. Your mileage may vary.

Yogurt marketed to children.

These are almost always bad news. Just check out the nutritional facts for Chill Out Cherry Gogurt.

After low-fat cultured milk, the ingredients list falls apart. Sugar comes next, followed by modified corn starch, gelatin (nothing wrong with gelatin, but why is it in your kid’s yogurt?), and a real head scratcher — tricalcium phosphate. I understand the need for calcium in children’s diets, but isn’t yogurt supposed to be a fantastic natural source of calcium already? Why add more unless something has been lost in translation from real milk to tube-delivered slurry? The rest of the list is a motley assortment of stabilizers, gums, and synthetic vitamins that would be completely unnecessary if they just left the yogurt as-is. Oh, and there’s not a hint of actual cherry. Just “natural flavors.”

When all is said and done, you’re left with half a gram of fat, 2 measly grams of protein, and a full 12 grams of carbs, 75% of which come from pure sugar. I honestly don’t get it. Well, I get it; it’s a money thing. But parents, don’t fall for this. All the kids I’ve ever known love full-fat dairy. They aren’t sugar-crazed hellions until we shepherd them into that way of life by feeding them garbage like Gogurt.

Also, why “Chill Out Cherry”? Has Yoplait incorporated Afghan poppy extract or something? Maybe some valerian?

Most low-fat yogurts.

In the vast majority of studies that find dairy to be beneficial or associated with health benefits, they use full-fat dairy. And when a study finds that dairy is linked to negative health outcomes, a little digging usually uncovers the fact that the authors used low-fat dairy. I wrote an entire series of posts discussing the positive ramifications of including full-fat dairy in your diet, and I stand by them. Now, it’s possible that the reason why full-fat dairy is so good for us is because of what it is not: a processed, deprived food with added emulsifiers, industrial fibers, and sugar to make up for the missing fat. But I think the fatty acids themselves are highly beneficial, whether it’s the conjugated linoleic acid in organic and pasture-raised dairy that may offer protection against cancer and heart disease, the phytanic acid that improves insulin sensitivity in animal models, or the trans-palmitoleic acid that’s strongly associated with better metabolic health.

In certain situations, like a bodybuilder looking for a very high-protein, low-fat food source to augment post-workout muscle protein synthesis without incurring fat gain, a low-fat yogurt can be very appropriate. But most yogurts that remove the fat make up for it by adding stabilizers, gums, preservatives, and extra sugar, so if you decide to go with a low-fat yogurt, confirm that it contains none of these undesirable ingredients. And be sure to use full-fat yogurt in most other instances, for reasons already listed.

Luckily for you guys, there’s a lot of good yogurt that you should eat. In most decent grocery stores, full-fat yogurt is available. Organic options, all of which tend to avoid incorporating unnecessary ingredients and removing necessary ones, are common and affordable.

You’ve got:

Standard full-fat yogurt.

This is yogurt in its natural state. It’s creamy (provided you haven’t used low-fat or skim milk), it’s tangy, it’s often downright drinkable if you let it sit out for half an hour.

Strained yogurt.

Also known as Greek yogurt (except in Greece, where they just call it “yogurt”), strained yogurt is yogurt with most of the liquid whey removed. This creates an ultra-thick, high-protein, high-fat, creamy yogurt that’s perfect for making tzatziki, the Mediterranean cucumber yogurt dip, Indian curries, and replacing sour cream. It’s also fantastic with berries or drizzled with some raw honey. You can strain regular yogurt with cheesecloth (or a paper towel laid on top of a mesh trainer) to get Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt may actually be Turkish yogurt. Chobani, one of the leading Greek yogurt brands in the US, was started by a Turk and named after the Turkish word for “shepherd” (traditionally, strained yogurt is made with sheep’s milk). In Turkey, “Greek yogurt” is known as süzme, or strained yogurt. Bitter debates about the provenance of strained yogurt are being waged as you read this. 

Cream top/cream line yogurt.

Most yogurt is homogenized, even if the milk used to make it is not. But sometimes yogurt makers refrain from stirring and a line of cream forms along the top of the yogurt. To me, this is a good thing, and it can foster unity in households divided along desired levels of fat content. One party eats the top half and gets extra fat, the other party eats the lower half and receives lower fat yogurt. Everyone’s happy and buying crappy low-fat yogurt becomes unnecessary.

Skyr.

Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt/cheese hybrid that incorporates both bacterial cultures and animal rennet to produce a thick, high-protein cultured milk product. And yes, skyr is non-fat, but that’s actually the traditional way to make it. Skyr makers would use the leftover milk after making butter.

In the United States, yogurt is something you eat when you don’t have time for breakfast or are “trying to eat healthier.” It either comes in single serving tubs that we eat at our desks or tubes that we squeeze down our throats on the morning commute.

For the rest of the yogurt-eating world, it’s a staple food eaten throughout the day. It’s a common condiment and a delicious dessert. It’s a cooking ingredient. It’s a dip, a sauce, a dressing. It’s even a drink. And yes, it’s also a breakfast food. Simply, yogurt is just kinda always around and available. Among those who eat it, yogurt is integral.

If you know me at all, you know my ears perk up whenever a tradition or practice seems near universal (like saunas, or fermentation, or walking). So many cultures use yogurt on a regular basis throughout the day that I’m thinking there’s something to this.

So, what are some ways we can expand our yogurt palate? I’ve been trying to incorporate a little yogurt into my life as of late, and I found great inspiration from looking to the cuisine of the nation from which we get the word “yogurt”: Turkey.

Yogurtlu Havuc

This is a Turkish carrot yogurt salad commonly served at breakfast. The Turks eat it on bread, but it’s great as a side dish alongside a piece of lamb. It’s simple:

Shred a couple large carrots, then sauté them in olive oil and a little salt over medium heat until soft. Allow the carrots to reach room temperature.

Add finely grated garlic (as much or as little as you prefer) and paprika to strained (Greek) yogurt. Use full-fat, of course. Mix well.

Fold the cooked carrots into the yogurt mixture, and add a little hot chile (fresh or dried). Traditionally, dried isot pepper is used, but cayenne works well if you like a little more heat.

Yogurt Herb Dip

This one’s even simpler. Just get a cup or two of thick yogurt, the fresh herbs of your choice, and a little garlic. Mix it all together and use alongside meats or as the base for salad dressings. I like using mint and dill, but everything works. I sometimes add salt and fresh black pepper.

Sparkling Mineral-Rich Ayran

The Turkish beverage ayran is water mixed with yogurt and salt. It sounds weird, but it’s really quite refreshing. It’s also very easy to make at home and it’s better if you use sparkling mineral water. Just mix four parts regular full-fat yogurt with one part sparkling mineral water (something like Gerolsteiner with a high mineral content is best), add a little salt to taste, and blend or whisk together. It’s also pretty good with some chopped fresh mint.

Another more generic way to eat more yogurt is to use it in place of sour cream, whipping cream, and even mayo. Well, maybe not mayo. I hear there’s a decent one out there on the market.

Check back this Saturday for a savory yogurt recipe you won’t want to miss.

If yogurt doesn’t agree with you but you really want to eat it, don’t give up.

Try different kinds. It’s often the case that different types of yogurt employ different bacterial strain mixes. Indian yogurt, for example, contains the novel Lactobacillus delbrueckii which has immunomodulatory effects.

Try smaller amounts. Start with just a teaspoon at a time, and build up from there. You’re introducing new bacterial migrants to your gut and they need to ease into their new surroundings.

Try a different species. Yogurt fermentation reduces the allergenicity of bovine whey protein and casein protein, but that may not be enough if you’re really intolerant. Try goat or sheep (or find a grass-fed yogurt).

Try sourer yogurts. The sourer the yogurt, the less lactose remains. Lactose is a common gut irritant.

All this said, dairy in general and yogurt in particular aren’t for everyone. So let’s hear from you down below.

Do you eat yogurt? What’s your favorite brand? What’s your favorite type? How do you use it in your meals?

Thanks for reading!

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You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Moving to Turkey this summer and looking forward to the cuisine but worried about maintaining 90/10 to 80/20 lifestyle. Will definitely get my yogurt on! Teşekkürler

    Julian wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I’ve been living in Turkey for a while. Getting good meat is a problem, but they are really great with vegetables on olive oil and, as Mark mentioned, Yogurt.

      Jose Roberto wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • Thanks!

        Julian wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • My wife and I traveled to Turkey last September. My take-away: you could be hard-core carnivore/primal (me), or hard-core vegetarian, or somewhere in between (my wife), and be equally at home in Turkey. The cuisine was spectacular, flavorful, and incredibly varied.

      Some pics to whet your appetite: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152863751197384&type=1&l=689819afed

      Jon wrote on June 1st, 2015
      • Good to know! Thanks.

        Julian wrote on June 1st, 2015
  2. My yogurt has partly skimmed organic milk and milk protein. Not sure why they do it that way instead of using while milk, any thoughts?

    Scot wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Because the public has largely been convinced that fat makes you fat. The mainstream market only buys low-fat or non-fat dairy products.

      Marge wrote on May 13th, 2015
  3. plain Fage is definitely the best- and purest greek yogurt in my opinion. Its one of those grocery items that is worth the price!

    Michael Clare wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I concur. Fage Total plain, not 0% or 2%.

      Elaine wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • Yes! Love Fage.. so rich and buttery, so glad Fred Meyer still stocks it for decent price.

        Joanna B wrote on May 14th, 2015
    • I used to love Fage, but it is not organic, so I have left it behind in favor of American, grass fed, full fat yogurt. I wish I could find an organic Greek yogurt; I miss the richness.

      Nicole wrote on May 14th, 2015
    • +1

      abby wrote on May 14th, 2015
    • I <3 Fage but it's hard to find the full-fat version near me. Alas. I typically fall back to plain, full-fat Dannon.

      Larry Clapp wrote on May 15th, 2015
  4. If you are lactose intolerant, I would recommend the SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) yogurt – where you make your own but let it ferment 24 hours. It is more sour, but nearly all the lactose is gone. It has done wonders for my gut health.

    Steve in Michigan wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Thanks for the comment regarding SCD yogurt. I have a similar recipe that was given to me by a Mormon lady years ago. Yogurt bothers me if I eat it more than once in a while, regardless of how long it has fermented, and her recipe makes way more than I can eat. My now-and-then favorite is a small portion of plain Fage full-fat Greek yogurt to which I add a little diced fresh fruit.

      I’d never heard of the SCD so I looked it up online. Very similar to 100% Paleo with a few exceptions. Most legumes are allowed on the SCD, which is odd because beans create gastric problems for a lot of people, myself included. Also, no sugars are allowed, but saccharin is. I wouldn’t touch saccharin. The SCD has been around for years, apparently, without ever being updated to include healthier sweetening options.

      Shary wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Thanks for the tip! I stopped eating yogurt a few years back due to digestion issues. Ironically, I had been eating it to improve digestion, but it backfired. Might give this longer ferment idea a try. Wish I could buy it that way.

      Kris K wrote on July 6th, 2015
  5. Living in a swedish-turkish household, we go heavy on the yoghurt. Yoghurt + berry smoothie in the morning for the kids who have little appetite for breakfast, yoghurt+dill+roe-sauce with the salmon and süzme yoghurt with chilli and salt for snacks.

    Binki wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Yum, Binki! That sounds wonderful. What else do you normally eat? I’ve become really interested in other cultures’ foods that are naturally paleo – have been experimenting with thai salads and indian vegetable curries, etc. It makes eating paleo so much more interesting – otherwise I fall into the trap of ‘grilled protein, grilled veggies’ for dinner. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s good to have variety once in a while.

      starmice wrote on May 13th, 2015
  6. Great article. I always promote natural full fat yogurt now, and wished I hadn’t spent years eating weight watchers yoghurts – why?? What’s even in them? I do think there is a bit of confusion about 0% fat greek yoghurt. It appears not to contain any sweeteners and the thickness is obtained by straining, however since fat is a flavour carrier I would generally avoid on the basis that it has no taste in any case! in the UK Rachel’s organic and Yeo Valley are readily available and superb.

    Ceri Jones wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • “I do think there is a bit of confusion about 0% fat greek yoghurt. It appears not to contain any sweeteners and the thickness is obtained by straining”

      It depends on the brand. Always read your labels.

      Karen wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • Greek Gods brand is just regular yogurt with thickeners. Same protein gram per cup as regular milk.

        alicia wrote on May 13th, 2015
  7. I’m a fan of the mesophilic yogurts, as they can be cultured at room temperature (which is what mesophilic means). You can find starter cultures on Etsy, and a good introductory article, focusing on the Scandanavian varieties is here:

    http://nourishedkitchen.com/viili-piima-fil-mjolk/

    Portabella wrote on May 13th, 2015
  8. I have yoghurt once in a while. In the UK now it’s quite easy to find an “organic-full-fat-no-ones-touched-it” yoghurt. All I do is add a little honey and a few berries. Has anyone come across “coconut yoghurt”? I saw it the other day but didn’t have time to grab and try…assume some plonker has loaded it with sugar!!

    Adrian Keane wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • You might want to try this if the brand is COYO. It is sweetened, but only slightly, with Stevia. If you are casein intolerant, as I am, this yogurt made from the cream of fresh young Thai coconut is a real treat. It has the creamy smooth consistency of Greek dairy yogurt. The downside is that it is not high in protein as is dairy Greek yogurt, which is why I described it as a treat.
      Enjoy it if you can find it.
      In the U.S. it can be found at Whole Foods as of 2014

      Beverly wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • I don’t tolerate dairy very well so I make my own coconut yogurt:

        If you don’t have a yogurt “maker” a preheated wide mouth thermos works.

        1 can yogurt milk (ie Native Forest) or 2 cups homemade

        1 tsp gelatin (coconut yogurt won’t thicken on its own)

        1 tsp sugar (this feeds the microbes, not you. I forgot the sugar once and it did not ferment)

        1 packet of yogurt culture (I use Yogourmet) OR 2 tbsp cultured dairy yogurt OR contents of a probiotic capsule

        Mix the gelatin, sugar, and powdered culture (OR probiotic capsule contents) together. Add about 2 tbsp room temp coconut milk and stir well to “bloom” the gelatin.

        Meanwhile, heat the remaining coconut milk to between 108F to 112F. Stir in the gelatin mixture. If you are using dairy yogurt as a culture add it now.

        Pour this into a yogurt maker or pre-heated thermos and keep it warm for 24 hours. I put my thermos on top
        If the fridge.

        After 24 hours it will smell a little like yogurt and taste slightly sour and effervescent. It will NOT be thick at all yet. Refrigerate overnight and it will thicken then because of the gelatin.

        I find it different than dairy yogurt in that it is less sour and has a pleasant, tingly taste. I like to eat it with berries and nuts.

        Remember it is not as good a source of protein as dairy yogurt, but it’s a nice sub when you’re intolerant of dairy.

        Janknitz wrote on May 13th, 2015
        • I do this same thing — make my own from coconut milk! I can’t do any kind of dairy in the smallest amount. I wish there was a non-dairy, non-soy yogurt on the market without added sugar for the convenience of it. But I don’t mind making my own. Amande and So Delicious are ok, but so much sugar.

          Katherine wrote on May 13th, 2015
  9. I really enjoy the Dreaming Cow line of yogurt. Grassfed/New Zealand style.

    Ian wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • That sounds good. Can you get it in the USA or do you live across the pond?

      Jacob wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • I can always get it at Whole Foods.

        Ian wrote on May 13th, 2015
        • I’m in MN and can get it at Cub Foods

          Susan wrote on May 13th, 2015
        • In Minnesota at Coburns you can find Maple Hill Creamery brand yogurt. Just two ingredients whole milk and live cultures. Yummy!

          Roger wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • I buy Dreaming Cow at my local Sprouts store. Whole Foods in my area carries Maple Hill Creamery (another brand of grass-fed yogurt). Siggi’s is also grass-fed (it is skyr, so nonfat and thick) and it is sold at both stores. Very yummy!

        Mina wrote on May 13th, 2015
  10. I absolutely love Greek yogurt myself, but unfortunately the strained ‘acid whey’ (by product of Greek yogurt) is causing a larger environmental problem. Finding places to dispose or use at fertilizer/transporting is often difficult, so I have found myself simply going for the runnier as close to full fat yogurt.

    Would love to hear others’ thoughts on this!

    Karli wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Once a week my husband makes yoghurt with a quart of organic cream in a 7 container yoghurt maker. It is thick and delicious. Since it is cream probably it doesn’t have calcium. We understand that in Bulgaria full cream yoghurt is the standard, and they’ve been making yoghurt this way forever. Does anyone else use cream for their homemade yoghurt? Can someone confirm that full cream is the Bulgarian way?

      Doris wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • For those interested, Bulgarian yoghurt culture is available from Amazon. One brand is actually shipped from Bulgarian and can take several weeks to arrive. I would tend to question the viability of culture that can go that long without refrigeration but maybe it’s quite shelf stable.

        I did check a couple of recipes for Bulgarian yoghurt and didn’t find any made solely with cream. Perhaps your husband would share his recipe for yoghurt made with cream. It sound delicious.

        Shary wrote on May 13th, 2015
        • Home made yoghurt from raw milk is sooooo easy to make and soooo delicious. I highly recommend it for Primal folks.

          Nocona wrote on May 13th, 2015
        • Easy Peazy to make yogurt with cream, my husband follows the directions on the Yogourment starter package bought from Amazon which contains L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilius and L. acidophilius . Puts the inoculated cream into the yoghurt maker and 5 hrs later–full fat delicious yoghurt.

          Doris wrote on May 14th, 2015
      • Years ago when on a low-carb diet I tried to make yogurt with heavy cream and it did not seem to be changed by the culture. So I thought it probably needed the milk protein to transform into yogurt. Maybe I will try again. Any ideas to better succeed at this?

        Gina wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • We use full cream for both regular, I guess it is called, and Greek yogurt. It is thicker than yogurt made with whole milk. We love it.
        For Greek yogurt we do not strain it. We just eat it. Seems to taste better to us than regular yogurt. I guess it is the type of bacteria in the culture.
        Next I want to play around with adding gelatin to make a dessert-like dish.

        TommyGor wrote on May 14th, 2015
    • On our farm we feed our pasture raised pigs the whey from Chobani (the largest plant is just 15 miles from us here in upstate New York). Our pigs grow slowly on only grass and whey, but they are delicious and we are keeping a huge amount of food waste out of the waste cycle by turning it into meat. We are getting the omega 3 ratio analyzed now and are hopeful that it’s closer to grass-fed beef because of their no grain (except for some stale loaves of bread occasionally from the nearest health food store) diet.

      Alanna wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • Here in Wisconsin, a smart young lady started a whey powder business – Tara’s Whey – using waste whey from local cheese makers (lots of those around here). Her company has been booming the last few years. It’s our favorite whey powder by far. She also has a line of goats’ whey powders, which are amazingly delicious.

        Erok wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • My son feeds my whey from straining homemade yogurt to the pigs. I think it is good for any animals.

      Susan wrote on May 13th, 2015
  11. What about kefir? It’s a standard here in Central and Eastern Europe and always helps with my digestive processes, and seems “natural”, especially the full-fat versions.

    Anna wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Home made Kefir is soooo delicious and very, very, very simple to make. Check out the book, Nourishing Traditions

      Nocona wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • How about ryazhenka? I love that stuff, as does my Ukrainian gal. Baked milk, raw of course and full fat, then fermented with kefir powder. Takes all night to bake in a 210 deg. oven, then 24 hrs to ferment after cooling to room temp- but worth the wait!

      Gregabob wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I just discovered kefir and I am in love! I pour it over frozen or fresh berries! And my digestive system loves it, too!

      Nicole wrote on May 14th, 2015
  12. Mmmmmm….Liberte Goat Yoghurt! Great treat when I visit Canada. Unfortunately all I can find around me has skim milk blah blah in it even though it is whole milk.

    Judy wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I get Liberte Yogurt at Whole Foods in NY/NJ. I haven’t seen that brand with goat’s milk, sounds interesting! I love the blackberry flavor–yogurt as it should be!

      defrog wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • I get Liberte also. It has the best taste. I am sure it is the fattest yogurt made, but I don’t indulge often. Rich, creamy, divine, too die for. (It MUST be bad for me is what I think…therefore, once a week)

        Ali wrote on May 13th, 2015
        • Liberte is so delicious! I’ve seen it in a few random health food stores here in MD, and others have ordered it for me if they don’t carry it. Goat’s milk is much more easily digestible than cow’s (and soooo much tastier!) so culture it and you have the perfect yogurt!

          Lyndsey wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • My favorite is Redwood Farms Goat Yogurt (Whole Foods & other health food stores in NYC) or Trader Joe’s goat yogurt. I have a cow dairy allergy, and I always hated yogurt although I loved most other dairy. I tried Redwood Farms goat yogurt, and loved it! Other brands I’ve tried are a little more “goaty”, but Trader Joe’s version seems identical to Redwood Farms. I get really sad when I go on my summer vacation to Scandinavia and have to do without goat yogurt for three weeks. I’ve never tried Liberte, couldn’t find it. Best goat butter: St. Helen’s Farm from Yorkshire

      Veera wrote on May 13th, 2015
  13. The whey problem is easily solved. Strain high quality yogurt and use the whey as per “Nourishing Traditions” cookbook, add to smoothies, or put it in your garden or compost.

    My favorite is Wholefoods’ 365 organic whole milk yogurt, but would welcome other suggestions.

    fsrbaker wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I buy 7 Stars Farm yogurt from Whole Foods. It is unhomogenized from cows in rural PA who spend most of the year grazing. I make a daily smoothie with blueberries and healthy spices like turmeric, cinnamon and ginger.

      Dan wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • I live pretty close to 7 Stars, but I’ve never had their yogurt! I need to change this ASAP!

        Amber wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Can’t the whey be used as fermentation starter, perhaps more rather than less?

      D. M. Mitchell wrote on May 13th, 2015
  14. The only *truly* grass-fed yogurt that I know of on the market is made by Maple Hill Creamery. They are now in some Whole Foods Markets on the east coast and they are growing. I know they are the real deal because I know the farmers who make milk for them and they don’t cut corners or bend the rules about what is and isn’t grass. That’s pretty rare for a qualifier like ‘grass-fed’ that doesn’t actually have universal standards in place. They now make a full fat, organic, and grass-fed strained yogurt that is amazing.

    Alanna wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I love the Maple Hill yogurt! They started carrying the plain Greek version at my local grocery. You can’t get any better than plain, full-fat, Greek, grass-fed yogurt.

      Brittney wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I was using Maple Hill Creamery brand, a few spoonfuls each morning with berries and nuts (along with eggs and other items, with coconut oil etc, I eat a pretty big breakfast in the morning) then I recently switched to a Greek yogurt because of the high protein, noticed it was 0% fat which concerns me. Think I will swith back to Maple Hill based on your comments and Mark’s article. Thanks!

      George wrote on May 13th, 2015
  15. I seem to have a hard time finding whole fat, organic, Greek yogurt, even at places like Trader Joe’s. I’m never sure which element to compromise on.
    I like the idea of getting Greek yogurt because of the higher protein, but again seem to have a hard time finding whole milk (full fat) and organic at the same time.

    Currently I’ve been using Trader Joe’s “European Style Plain Whole Milk Yogurt” which is kind of a compromise. Because it’s the “European Style” it does have 12 grams of protein. Only about 1/2 of what the Greek yogurts have, but about double what regular yogurt has.

    After reading this article, I will feel better about eating the fat-free organic Greek yogurt at times too, as long as I see they haven’t added a bunch of unnecessary ingredients.

    Kim wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I work at Trader Joe’s her in Santa Rosa and we do have a full fat Greek yogurt. It is a Trader Joe label and that is the only one I buy. We also carry Fage, but only in 2 percent and 0 Fat. I love to eat it with a handful of berries and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds!

      Srephanie wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • Thanks for the info. Is the full fat TJ’s Green yogurt you are referring to also organic?

        Thanks!

        Kim wrote on May 14th, 2015
    • Get the lower fat Greek yogurt and stir in some heavy cream.

      Karen wrote on May 13th, 2015
  16. I strain my full fat yogurt with a strainer lined with a coffee filter. I wish the other people in my house liked the flavor of plain yogurt like I do, so tart and creamy!!
    However, now it is easier to find Fage Total here in Oregon’s grocery stores so that cuts out the straining, no waiting.
    Wasn’t there a recipe that used the whey in making mayo?

    2Rae wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • You can use whey to preserve mayo. Add about a tablespoon to your mayo, close the lid and let it ferment on your countertop for 7 hours. It’ll become a bit more sour-tasting, but it will keep for at least a month or so in the fridge.

      Linda wrote on May 14th, 2015
  17. I’ve been eating 2lbs of fat free Greek yogurt with a pound of frozen organic blueberries after workouts for the past few months. Anyone that sees the bowl wonders how I eat so much; relative to the volume, the calories are fairly low. Kirkland (Costco) brand (Ingredients are milk and cultures).

    John wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Egads! 80 or more grams of dairy protein without even a drop of the fat your body is expecting to help you digest/absorb/utilize that protein? You don’t have to be a die-hard Weston A Price-er to find that potentially problematic!
      Remember: Until 50 years ago or so, every single time your genes met dairy protein, they met it together with dairy fat. In fact in many cultures, skim milk was fed to hogs and converted to lard before consumption, so our genes may be expecting fat at a higher rate than naturally occurring in milk.
      That is an incredibly unbalanced meal. You’d do your body more favors to have 1 lb of full fat yogurt (which as I mention in another post here, isn’t really full fat anyway, usually, but 2%), maybe with a couple tablespoons of nuts.
      Also, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone get 80 g of protein every day from any one source. Variety in nutrition is key, and that much dairy is practically asking to develop an allergy.

      alicia wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • I disagree.

        Do you have any evidence to support the causal relationships you claim: that without dairy fat that level of protein is problematic, or that it will lead to an allergy?

        I don’t understand the relevance of feeding skim milk to hogs.

        I don’t think your claim of the historical consumption of dairy fat with milk protein establishes milk protein without dairy fat is problematic. I also think your statement is incorrect. See the reference to skyr in the above post. An internet search demonstrates that skyr has been consumed for over 1000 years.

        My diet is diverse – I described one meal I eat a few times per week. As in, 3 meals out of roughly 21 per week.

        John wrote on May 13th, 2015
        • This website has a bunch of stuff about how dairy is healthier when eaten whole. This component in the skim promotes cancer, but that component in the fat inhibits it, etc etc. Any number of diseases are linked to consumption of skim milk but not whole milk. Put “dairy” in the search box at the top and read. Chris Masterjohn is also good on this topic.
          Mark also mentions the “if you eat too much dairy too often you’re courting allergies,” which I’ve seen on other sites as well. I would not bet the farm on a causal relationship, but neither would I risk eating 80 g of one source of protein per day (three times a week is, yes, somewhat better).
          Review the information above on skyr. It has been made for 1000 years, yes, but it’s made from the skim milk left over from making butter. Which I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that they also ingested. They are still getting the benefits of the whole milk, just they are getting it in divided dishes.
          And the relevance of the hogs is that, in the cultures that do that, instead of eating butter and skyr, like the Icelanders, they are eating butter, whole milk, and full-fat cheese. Instead of encountering dairy fait and protein in a 1:1 ratio, they will have normally consumed something more like a 2:1 ratio (or whatever). If your genes are from a mixed dairy-hog background, your body will be even more perplexed by skim milk.
          My point is, dairy protein eaten without dairy fat being present in the natural ratio somewhere in the diet is a new food, like soy oil and white flour. I am always suspicious of new foods. I thought that was what paleo/primal was all about. No?

          alicia wrote on May 13th, 2015
        • Folks, the fat in milk/yogurt/cheese carries fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Without that fat, you don’t get those vitamins and minerals. Particularly, your body needs fat in the yogurt to use the calcium in that yogurt. Both calcium and iron need fat in the food to be available to your body. Also, the various fatty acids in the fat are important to your body. One of these, conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, plays a vital role in signaling your body to retain healthy, lean muscle tissue. It is sold as a bodybuilders’ supplement. Why let the manufacturers take away the valuable nutrition in those fats?

          Marge wrote on May 13th, 2015
        • Alicia,

          Primal/paleo are about different things to different people. I think looking at foods and their effects in the context of evolution makes sense, but I don’t think it makes sense to exclude because foods are new, per se.

          Soy oil is not a good comparison. People have been eating dairy for a long time, thus consuming the proteins in significant quantities. Soy oil is a new, manufactured product, that is generally outside the framework of anything previously consumed – particularly the 6:3 ratio and absence of antioxidants/nutrients. White flour may be a better comparison from a historical perspective. Sure the “recentness” of wheat consumption can raise suspicion, but I generally avoid it for reasons other than “primal man didn’t eat it.” After reviewing this website and Masterjohn’s works on the issue of dairy, I don’t see cause for concern in the context of my overall diet.

          I can’t find that quote from Mark you linked regarding allergy – nevertheless, you can become allergic to all kinds of things that are healthy; its possible to develop an egg allergy from regular consumption, yet eggs are considered the pinnacle of healthy foods in primal eating. I’m not really worried about this. Also, Mark has discussed utilizing GOMAD to build strength (120g protein every day from dairy), and sells an isolated milk protein supplement (removed dairy fat).

          The Masterjohn article on dairy and cancer, and Mark’s link to that post in the Definitive Guide to Dairy, discuss possible prostate cancer increases associated with dairy calcium, with the probable link being insufficient Vitramin D. I get plenty of vitamin D.

          I still get dairy fat too, when I cook with butter. I also view butter as milk fat isolated from the proteins and carbs – people have been isolating various components of milk and consuming them independently for a long time – why not take issue with isolated dairy fat consumption too? It has been stripped of all those beneficial milk proteins. Butter has been associated with more diseases in higher occurrences than milk proteins, also. The reason is because context is important, rather than possible harm from any one aspect of one part of one person’s diet

          I’m lean, healthy, and strong, I eat over a pound of oily fish a week, I eat a pound of fruits and vegetables per day, and I eat liver every week. After workouts it is so easy and satisfying to consume fat free Greek yogurt with berries. The possible harm of my low fat dairy consumption seems like such a small and theoretical issue of my diet that I suspect stressing over it would be more harmful than consuming it.

          Marge,

          You make good points. I choose low fat dairy products at times because of how they fit in my workout schedule and general calorie plan. I also eat meat independent of bones, skin or other organs, and a bunch of other foods where parts have been isolated from their nutritionally complementary parts, such as olive and coconut oils.

          John wrote on May 14th, 2015
        • Oh, and you won’t absorb any of the fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants in the fruit if you eat it with fat-free yogurt. Another reason to eat something more nearly approximating nature.

          Alicia wrote on May 14th, 2015
        • Wouldn’t eating the fruit alone approximate nature, yet be low in fat?

          John wrote on May 14th, 2015
  18. Thanks for this. I LOVE yogurt and my favorite brand by far is Maple Hill creamery’s Greek full-fat grass fed yogurt. It’s amazing but hard to eat just a little! I just eat it plain, it is so delicious!
    My question is — how much yogurt does one have to eat to get the probiotic benefits?

    Lilah wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Greek, full fat, grass fed, and organic! I’m very excited to read this–but where do you get it?

      Monikat wrote on May 13th, 2015
  19. Thanks for the information on yogurt! I love yogurt, but haven’t been able to have much of it since removing it. I will try adding it in small increments, maybe that will do the trick because I would love to have some Greek, rather, Turkish, strained yogurt!

    Sarah Steffens Ikegami wrote on May 13th, 2015
  20. What about sugar free plain Greek yogurt? I know a lot of variety’s add sugar and what not but it usually is naturally very low fat or fat free and really high in protein naturally.

    Allison wrote on May 13th, 2015
  21. I make my own yogurt in the crock pot with whole milk, let it strain for 48 hours and then sweeten it with just a touch of maple syrup and vanilla extract. It’s like dessert for me then. Add in some berries and chopped nuts…MMMM

    Tamara wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Tamara, that is a great idea! How much milk do you use and I presume you’d use the low setting, and for low long?

      Joanna B. wrote on May 14th, 2015
  22. Would you consider goats milk yogurt primal? or closer than cows milk even grass fed? I have troubles with cows milk even grass fed, so I’ve moved to goats milk everything. Butter (way better than cows), cheese, kefir and yogurt. I don’t have the problems I had with cows. Of course the butter is seasonal evidently, as I can only get it every so often.

    Andrea Slater wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Of course goats milk is primal! We get goats milk feta and it’s so creamy!

      Curtis wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • Sweet!!! Thank you! I love the cheddar and put it on my eggs when I make fritatta

        Andrea Slater wrote on May 13th, 2015
      • Goat milk cream cheese at Whole Foods–with their Fig spread on your choice of cracker or bread, is divine.

        Ali wrote on May 13th, 2015
  23. Hello, I’m from the Balkans and old enough to remember the real yogurt. Here is the link for the curious. http://www.bacillusbulgaricus.com/lactobacillus-bulgaricus to learn about the origin of yogurt,and Lactobacillus Bulgaricus.

    Now I live in North America, and buy 6% Balkan style yogurt…not the same. I decided to try to make my own yogurt with what America offers as 3 % milk.

    tg wrote on May 13th, 2015
  24. My favorite is Brown Cow Yogurt which is non GMO gluten free & kosher

    NON DAIRY OPTIONS:
    i like So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt which is GF & organic. i try to buy the bigger plain tub and then add berries and minimal sweetener since the flavored versions, like most brands add lots of unnecessary gunk. They also have a thicker Greek style and kefir.

    almond milk based ones tend to be runny with little texture. Again for me, So Delicious has the best texture as well as organic GF organic attributes . Amande & Almond Dream are OK, texture , fewer attributes

    If you’re still eating soy, Whole Soy is tastiest and only one i could truly enjoy. Silk & Stonyfield Farms are OK. I don’t remember trying Trader Joe’s. Nancy’s soy is inedible–grainy, runny & slightly bitter–I don’t understand how they’re still on the market.

    Has anyone seen any yogurts based on other milks–hemp? other nuts?

    Marty wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Yup! Brown Cow Plain Cream Top.

      My brother-in-law told me the bitter/overly sour taste in Nancy’s is due to too high temperature in processing. Not sure if that applies to the soy, but he specifically said the milk yoghurt gets overly sour an icky if processed at too high temperatures.

      Mary Anne wrote on May 13th, 2015
  25. We make it using full fat powdered milk and start it off with Fage Greek yogurt. From then just use a spoonful of the last batch to start the next. Luckily we live in a warm climate (Oman) so we just leave the crock pot in the kitchen overnight and “bingo” it’s done. Why powdered milk? It’s cheap and more available than full fat milk in these low fat times, plus, the result is fabulous. Search online for a recipe, it’s easy!

    David Furnival wrote on May 13th, 2015
  26. Mark, that’s disgusting. “or a paper towel laid on top of a mesh trainer”
    I’ve been made to drink beer out of my trainer, but never yogurt.
    Lol 😉

    FattyAndSweaty wrote on May 13th, 2015
  27. We make our own yogurt with organic 1/2 & 1/2 in a yogurt maker. Thick, rich, & totally delicious! Just add a few nuts & blueberries, chia seeds, & 2 scoops Prebiotic, & you have the perfect breakfast!

    judith l. griffin wrote on May 13th, 2015
  28. I love Smari Organics full fat Icelandic yogurt (skyr). Delicious and the best texture I’ve come across.

    Amy wrote on May 13th, 2015
  29. “Intestinal homeostasis is a balance between pro and anti-inflammatory responses of intestinal immunocytes and could be maintained by probiotics.” This study, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3920683/ notes following probiotic yogurt intervention:

    1. Serum levels of PRO-INFLAMMATORY CYTOKINES: IL-1β, TNF-α and also in CRP levels significantly decreased, and
    2. Serum levels of ANTI-INFLAMMATORY CYTOKINE IL-10 and IL-6 significantly increased.

    For clarity: subjects where supposed to eat probiotic yogurt containing 26,500 CFU of each Bifidiobacterium BB-12 and Lactobacillus acidophilus La-5 daily for 8 weeks. NOTE: Bifidobacterium is NOT eaten for SCD/GAPS… rather it is believed to easily overgrow in a compromised gut thus specific bacterial legal starters containing: L.Acidophilus, S.Thermophilus, L.Bulgaricus and L. Rhamnosus are mandated.

    Biome Onboard Awareness wrote on May 13th, 2015
  30. I love Fage. I have also noticed that most stores, including Whole Foods, are still beholden to the non-fat fantasy and stock 10 times more low- and non-fat product. But now that more people know that fat is no longer evil the stores sell out of their tiny supplies of full-fat yogurt almost immediately! Very frustrating.
    Also I have never, ever seen the full fat (4%) Chobani on sale anywhere, though they list is a product on their web site.

    Pete wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Fage and almonds. Although I am stuck with the 2% as the total fat is rarely seen.

      tgw wrote on May 13th, 2015
  31. We are blessed to get our raw milk full fat plain yogurt from a local small farm. Only fed grass. Only $5 a quart…tangy and delicious! Lake City, FL.

    Susan wrote on May 13th, 2015
  32. Anyone ever tried shopping for uncorrupted natural yoghurt in Spain, let alone a really tasty full fat Greek or Turkish yoghurt? Forget it. Everything has added sugar. They even have ‘azúcarado’ emblazoned on the front of the label like some sort of major plus point. Even the plain, fruit-free stuff has sugar in it. Depressing.

    Susie wrote on May 13th, 2015
  33. Siggi’s Coconut Skyr- made from grass-fed cow’s milk. It’s pretty good. Original Fage is still my favorite. Mixed with blueberries and drizzle of honey. yum!

    Brooke wrote on May 13th, 2015
  34. I now understand why my eyes cross and I stand before the yogurt in the grocery store for at least 20 minutes searching out the best choice. Thanks for all the great information… I know my browsing… will be shortened by at least 2 minutes : )))

    Cynthia wrote on May 13th, 2015
  35. East coasters seem to have better yogurt options that we do out west, strangely, at least at Whole Foods. Maple Hill Creamery used to be a staple at my swag in Palo Alto, but no more. Straus is the best choice now. From what I’ve researched, their cows are mostly grass-fed and their Greek yogurt is unbelievably good.

    Chris wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I love the Straus greek yogurt. For my (picky, primal 8-year-old) I mix it with their full-fat vanilla for a less sugar-y ‘kids’ yogurt.

      David wrote on May 13th, 2015
  36. I am lactose intolerant. It is something that developed after I limited my dairy intake, and I truly wish it did not come about. Greek yogurt was one of my favorite foods/meals. Has anyone in my similar position attempted to regularly eat greek yogurt, and see a reversal of intolerance?

    Sydney Weisman wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • I’ve been told by other people that lactose tolerance is a “use it or lose it” proposition. The good news is that if you start using lactose-containing dairy again, your body will start making lactose again. You may have to start very small and work up very slowly to avoid undue side effects, but I’ve heard people say it worked for them if they persevered.
      Also, greek yogurt is rather low in lactose. Some of the lactose bites the dust during the fermentation process, and more of it is strained out with the whey. So you should tolerate greek yogurt more than you would fresh milk.

      alicia wrote on May 13th, 2015
  37. I usually buy plain Greek Yogurt and add my own flavours such as blueberries, raspberries, natural vanilla extract and maybe a pinch of stevia if I feel the need for sweetening. I was wondering if Kefir would make a good additive to thin it out some. Also, what other uses are there for Kefir. I bought a small jug and don’t want to see it go to waste after the expiration date because I didn’t know where to use it. Thanks for any help with this.

    Al Hughes wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Al Hughes..I buy plain Kefir in a tub which is eaten with a spoon like yoghurt & its delicious. I love Greek yoghurt but love Kefir even more. Its hard not to eat tubfuls at a time. I’ve never found it in tub form except my local health food store here on Vancouver Island in BC. As for Greek yoghurt, I usually buy Costco’s Kirkland brand which is not full fat but very creamy with nothing added that shouldn’t be…mainly because of price. I top it with Costco’s organic toasted coconut….delicious! We’re fortunate here to have so many organic, healthy options at Costco. (No I don’t work for them).

      Denise wrote on May 13th, 2015
  38. Good for you mark for breaking dogma and the taboo ness of regular consumption of dairy. Next up, soaked grains?

    I wonder how consuming dairy with high oxalate foods, spinach, sweet potatoes, affects absorbability

    james wrote on May 13th, 2015
  39. We make our own yogurt. We get raw milk from a local farmer and add the culture. Our milk is around 5 to 6 percent fat and it makes the best yogurt. We also make a coconut milk yogurt that ends up more liquid, but works great in smoothies.

    Charles Maybury wrote on May 13th, 2015
  40. Wallaby Organic Greek Whole milk yogurt, plain: Best. Yogurt. Ever!! I love it drizzled with organic blackstrap molasses – a favorite treat from childhood. We were served this instead of ice cream, and never knew the difference – mom was a 60’s “health food nut” for which I am now so grateful – thanks, mom!

    Kathleen wrote on May 13th, 2015
    • Agreed!

      Alicia wrote on May 13th, 2015

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