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Probiotic powerhouse

Immune-strengthening yogurt helps the body fight infection

HEALTHY BACTERIA High in vitamin D and protein, whole milk yogurts topped with fresh fruit and a small amount of granola help maintain gut health.

In the last several years, yogurt has risen to the forefront as a trendy health food. And for good reason. Yogurt provides belly-filling protein, is loaded with bone-building calcium and the good bacteria in yogurt helps maintain gut health. The latter is especially important considering the amount of healthy—versus harmful—bacteria in your gut influences body weight (just another great reason to eat yogurt).

Yogurt also contains a healthy dose of vitamin D, which the body needs to absorb calcium.

The probiotics in yogurt have also been shown to strengthen the immune system and fight off infections. But before you go swiping yogurt off store shelves, it’s important to know which ones that will actually improve your health as opposed to the ones that are unhealthy.

Chobani, Fage and Siggi’s are the clear winners because they are low in calories and carbohydrates while packing a ton of protein. My simple rule of thumb in picking yogurt? It has to have at least twice the amount of protein than sugar per serving. That’s why I go with Fage 2 percent, the unflavored Siggi’s varieties and plain whole milk Chobani. They contain enough fat to make you feel full while also making them palatable.

Fage 2 percent is my particular favorite because of its thick and creamy texture. Siggi’s is a little more decadent than Fage 2 percent, but it doesn’t contain as much protein per the same amount of serving. The plain whole milk Chobani also tastes a bit more decadent than Fage 2 percent, but it is higher in calories and lower in protein.

Stay away from flavored yogurt, which are packed with sugar. Instead, top one of these yogurts with fresh fruit and a small amount of granola for a healthy treat. If you’re feeling really ambitious, top one of these yogurts with flaxseed meal—a two tablespoon serving (I go with Bob’s Red Mill brand)—contains 3 grams of fiber along with 2,430 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. You can never really get enough omega-3s in your diet, as they help lower inflammation in the body.

Pro athletes like Tom Brady eat a diet rich in omega-3s—they’re also found in walnuts and oily fish like salmon—because they help the body recover faster from the pounding their bodies go through. Greek yogurts like Fage can also be used as a healthy substitute in baked goods, and as a healthier replacement for sour cream.

If you’re lactose sensitive, the good news is yogurt is low in lactose. Goat milk contains less lactose than regular yogurt while still containing some of the same health benefits.