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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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May 13, 2015

Is All Yogurt Created Equal?

By Mark Sisson
184 Comments

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!

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

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184 Comments on "Is All Yogurt Created Equal?"

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Julian
Julian
1 year 4 months ago

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! Te?ekkürler

Jose Roberto
Jose Roberto
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Julian
Julian
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks!

Jon
Jon
1 year 3 months ago

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

Julian
Julian
1 year 3 months ago

Good to know! Thanks.

Scot
Scot
1 year 4 months ago

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?

Marge
Marge
1 year 4 months ago

Because the public has largely been convinced that fat makes you fat. The mainstream market only buys low-fat or non-fat dairy products.

Michael Clare
Michael Clare
1 year 4 months ago

plain Fage is definitely the best- and purest greek yogurt in my opinion. Its one of those grocery items that is worth the price!

Elaine
Elaine
1 year 4 months ago

I concur. Fage Total plain, not 0% or 2%.

Joanna B
Joanna B
1 year 4 months ago

Yes! Love Fage.. so rich and buttery, so glad Fred Meyer still stocks it for decent price.

Nicole
Nicole
1 year 4 months ago

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.

abby
abby
1 year 4 months ago

+1

Larry Clapp
Larry Clapp
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Steve in Michigan
Steve in Michigan
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Shary
Shary
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Kris K
1 year 2 months ago

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.

Binki
Binki
1 year 4 months ago

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.

starmice
starmice
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Ceri Jones
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Karen
Karen
1 year 4 months ago

“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.

alicia
alicia
1 year 4 months ago

Greek Gods brand is just regular yogurt with thickeners. Same protein gram per cup as regular milk.

Portabella
Portabella
1 year 4 months ago

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/

Adrian Keane
Adrian Keane
1 year 4 months ago

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!!

Beverly
Beverly
1 year 4 months ago

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

Janknitz
Janknitz
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Katherine
Katherine
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Ian
Ian
1 year 4 months ago

I really enjoy the Dreaming Cow line of yogurt. Grassfed/New Zealand style.

Jacob
1 year 4 months ago

That sounds good. Can you get it in the USA or do you live across the pond?

Ian
Ian
1 year 4 months ago

I can always get it at Whole Foods.

Susan
Susan
1 year 4 months ago

I’m in MN and can get it at Cub Foods

Roger
Roger
1 year 4 months ago

In Minnesota at Coburns you can find Maple Hill Creamery brand yogurt. Just two ingredients whole milk and live cultures. Yummy!

Mina
Mina
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Karli
Karli
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Doris
Doris
1 year 4 months ago

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?

Shary
Shary
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Nocona
Nocona
1 year 4 months ago

Home made yoghurt from raw milk is sooooo easy to make and soooo delicious. I highly recommend it for Primal folks.

Doris
Doris
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Gina
Gina
1 year 4 months ago

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?

TommyGor
TommyGor
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Alanna
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Erok
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Susan
Susan
1 year 4 months ago

My son feeds my whey from straining homemade yogurt to the pigs. I think it is good for any animals.

Anna
Anna
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Nocona
Nocona
1 year 4 months ago

Home made Kefir is soooo delicious and very, very, very simple to make. Check out the book, Nourishing Traditions

Gregabob
Gregabob
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Nicole
Nicole
1 year 4 months ago

I just discovered kefir and I am in love! I pour it over frozen or fresh berries! And my digestive system loves it, too!

Judy
Judy
1 year 4 months ago

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.

defrog
defrog
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Ali
Ali
1 year 4 months ago

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)

Lyndsey
Lyndsey
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Veera
Veera
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
fsrbaker
fsrbaker
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Dan
Dan
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Amber
1 year 4 months ago

I live pretty close to 7 Stars, but I’ve never had their yogurt! I need to change this ASAP!

D. M. Mitchell
D. M. Mitchell
1 year 4 months ago

Can’t the whey be used as fermentation starter, perhaps more rather than less?

Alanna
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Brittney
Brittney
1 year 4 months ago

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.

George
George
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Kim
Kim
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Srephanie
Srephanie
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Kim
Kim
1 year 4 months ago

Thanks for the info. Is the full fat TJ’s Green yogurt you are referring to also organic?

Thanks!

Karen
Karen
1 year 4 months ago

Get the lower fat Greek yogurt and stir in some heavy cream.

2Rae
2Rae
1 year 4 months ago

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?

Linda
Linda
1 year 4 months ago

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.

John
John
1 year 4 months ago

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).

alicia
alicia
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John
John
1 year 4 months ago
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 –… Read more »
alicia
alicia
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Marge
Marge
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
John
John
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Alicia
Alicia
1 year 4 months ago

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.

John
John
1 year 4 months ago

Wouldn’t eating the fruit alone approximate nature, yet be low in fat?

Lilah
Lilah
1 year 4 months ago

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?

Monikat
Monikat
1 year 4 months ago

Greek, full fat, grass fed, and organic! I’m very excited to read this–but where do you get it?

Sarah Steffens Ikegami
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Allison
Allison
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Tamara
Tamara
1 year 4 months ago

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

Joanna B.
Joanna B.
1 year 4 months ago

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.
Joanna B.
1 year 4 months ago

*How long

Tamara
Tamara
1 year 4 months ago

I follow this method:
http://www.granny-miller.com/how-to-make-foolproof-crock-pot-yogurt/

I only let mine ferment for 12 hours because my husband doesn’t like it very sour. I got my strainer on amazon.

Andrea Slater
Andrea Slater
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Curtis
Curtis
1 year 4 months ago

Of course goats milk is primal! We get goats milk feta and it’s so creamy!

Andrea Slater
Andrea Slater
1 year 4 months ago

Sweet!!! Thank you! I love the cheddar and put it on my eggs when I make fritatta

Ali
Ali
1 year 4 months ago

Goat milk cream cheese at Whole Foods–with their Fig spread on your choice of cracker or bread, is divine.

tg
tg
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Marty
Marty
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Mary Anne
Mary Anne
1 year 4 months ago

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.

David Furnival
David Furnival
1 year 4 months ago

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!

FattyAndSweaty
FattyAndSweaty
1 year 4 months ago

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 😉

judith l. griffin
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Amy
Amy
1 year 4 months ago

I love Smari Organics full fat Icelandic yogurt (skyr). Delicious and the best texture I’ve come across.

Biome Onboard Awareness
1 year 4 months ago
“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-1?, TNF-? 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… Read more »
Pete
Pete
1 year 4 months ago

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.

tgw
tgw
1 year 4 months ago

Fage and almonds. Although I am stuck with the 2% as the total fat is rarely seen.

Susan
Susan
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Susie
Susie
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Brooke
Brooke
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Cynthia
Cynthia
1 year 4 months ago

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 : )))

Chris
Chris
1 year 4 months ago

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.

David
David
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Sydney Weisman
Sydney Weisman
1 year 4 months ago

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?

alicia
alicia
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
Al Hughes
Al Hughes
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Denise
Denise
1 year 4 months ago
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… Read more »
james
james
1 year 4 months ago

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

Charles Maybury
Charles Maybury
1 year 4 months ago

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.

Kathleen
Kathleen
1 year 4 months ago

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!

Alicia
Alicia
1 year 4 months ago

Agreed!

Daria Schooler
1 year 4 months ago

In Columbus, Indiana, there is a well stocked Indian grocer. They sell Desi Natural Dahl whole milk all natural yogurt (also a low fat one). Contains no gelatin, made with cultured pasteurized grade A milk and nonfat milk solids, active yogurt cultures including L. bulgaricus, S. thermophilus, bifidus, L. acidophilus and L. casei.

It tastes great and is product of USA.

Alicia
Alicia
1 year 4 months ago

My new love is a yoghurt out of Napa, California. Wallaby Organic, Greek Style, grass fed. After trying this for the first time, I dropped Maple Hill like it was hot. Extremely rich and creamy.

Janknitz
Janknitz
1 year 4 months ago

I don’t tolerate dairy yogurt well but when I was eating it I thought Trader Joe’s plain Greek yogurt was pretty good.

And here in Northern California we are blessed with two very nice but pricey grass fed organic brands: Strauss Creamery and St. Benoit. St. Benoit comes in glass containers, which is an especially nice touch–not thrilled with buying plastic containers all the time.

Curtis
Curtis
1 year 4 months ago

Yoplait and it’s “fruit” at the bottom ruined my sense of what yogurt should taste like. I never had real yogurt as a kid, just a sugary concoction, so every time I try real yogurt now, I think, I’d rather just eat sour cream. :/

Alex
Alex
1 year 4 months ago
I’m a HUGE fan of Fage Total! SImple and delicious. I use it for dessert (frozen blueberries or banana slices thrown in). I put in smoothies. And most of all, I often throw a dollop of it on the side of savory dishes which include spicy and/or acidic food like eastern Mediterranean food (think Turkish, etc.), or even something as simple as scrambled eggs with crumbled feta and dry herbs. I try other brands, but so many yogurts in mainstream supermarkets are 0% across the board almost. Otherwise I make it and strain it myself in cheese cloth!
Mich
Mich
1 year 4 months ago
Larry
1 year 4 months ago

I buy one yogurt only. Kalona greek yogurt. Grass fed, 3grams carbs per serving. Tastes amazing. I get mine at Natural Grocers.

Also their sour cream is amazing. One of my true super awesome foods now. I only eat foods I like. But I REALLY love the sour cream.

John
John
1 year 4 months ago

Yoghurt is very simple to make yourself as I do. All you need is good quality milk and starter from a quality yoghurt.

Kathy
Kathy
1 year 4 months ago

i make yogurt in my crockpot … hated *wasting* the whey (and therefore decreasing the yogurt yield) so now i thicken it with gelatin. so easy and cost-effective. bonus: knowing what my kids are eating is wholesome. now i just need to get my hands on some zipzicles to make homemade gogurts!

Dr. Dana Leigh Lyons
1 year 4 months ago

I’m on board with all the full-fat Fage lovers here! So far as store-bought brands, that tops my list.

Such a disappointment, however, when full-fat is out of stock…and, near me in south Florida, Whole Foods is the only place I’ve found full-fat yoghurt all. Not enough people are buying full-fat for other stores to carry it. And, even at WF, it’s the exception in the yoghurt section.

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