The Dirty Truth Of Store-Bought Yogurt And How To Find A Truly Healthy Option

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The all-mighty, gut healing benefits of that rich, creamy and delicious cup of yogurt! It’s something you allow your children to have whenever because it’s a healthy snack! Its considered a healthy substitute in cooking and a power house base for smoothies!

But is it really?

Are you really getting all that you think you are when you browse the yogurt shelves? You might just think differently after reading the dirt we found. Store-bought yogurt has long been marketed as a healthy food choice, but recent scientific research suggests that this may not be the case. Yogurt may still be a good source of protein and calcium, however, many store-bought varieties lack the healthy bacteria that make it so beneficial for the body. In addition, the processing and added ingredients used in store-bought yogurt can actually be detrimental to your health.

Healthy Bacteria

One major problem with store-bought yogurt is that it often lacks the beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that live in the gut and help to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria. They have been shown to improve digestion, boost the immune system, and even help to prevent certain types of cancer. Store-bought yogurt options often advertise just how rich in probiotics their products are and this has become a huge selling point for certain brands.

Unfortunately, store-bought yogurts are pasteurized, which kills off the probiotics found naturally in the milk. The USDA has long maintained a stance that all commercial yogurt must be pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized in order to be sold. In addition, many yogurts are also heat-treated after fermentation in order to extend shelf-life. This process can actually kill off the beneficial bacteria that was just added from the culture.

Nutrient Content

Not only does the pasteurization destroy vital nutrients, enzymes and beneficial bacteria found in raw milk, some store-bought brands of milk and/or yogurt use an extra processing method called homogenization. This process is used to extend shelf life of the product and also provides a more appealing texture and color to the buyer as it breaks down the fat molecules. However, this extra process can also be detrimental to your health. Homogenization does have some claims that it makes the yogurt easier to digest. However, it is also known that denatured milk proteins, a consequence of homogenization, become a huge allergy trigger and may cause issues with GI upset and other allergic responses, such as inflammation and skin conditions. There is no doubt that more studies need to be conducted on the homogenization processes of milk/yogurt and the body’s ability to process the changed molecular structure.

Additionally, when homogenization blends and breaks down milk fat, some of the essential vitamins, such as A and D, are also broken down and are therefore lacking in the final product. There have also been concerns about this extra process causing the release of free radicals. These are molecules that float freely in the body and can cause problems with cell regeneration and growth. They have been to blame for an array or conditions, including premature aging, organ damage, and most cancers.

Added Ingredients

Another issue with store-bought yogurt is the added ingredients. Many brands add sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other artificial ingredients to their yogurt. Yogurt itself already contains natural sugars, which are the best to consume. However, store-bought brands try to make the product more appealing and addictive to shoppers, not only by adding fruits and other flavors, but also by loading them up with sugar, the most addictive food substance that has been shown to release the feel good hormone dopamine and create a dependency.

As a reference, the American Heart Association suggests women consume no more than 25 grams of sugar a day and men no more than 38 grams, while children range from 12-25 grams per day, depending on their age. The high sugar levels in a single cup of yogurt can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other health problems. The fact that these sugars are added, opposed to natural sugars which are processed differently within the body, increases the chances of these conditions becoming a major issue. In addition to the sugar, some store-bought yogurts also contain added thickeners and stabilizers, which can disrupt the digestive system and lead to bloating, gas and inflammation.

The Best Yogurt To Consume

Just because the most popular brands of yogurt offer you absolutely nothing in the way of nutrition, doesn’t mean that yogurt has to be omitted completely. The first, and absolute healthiest yogurt option is going to be homemade. Yogurt making is not a hard skill to obtain and best of all, it can be loaded with nutrition and tailored to your family. There are also some healthy, gut loaded options available in stores, you just have to know what you’re looking for when purchasing.

100% Grass-Fed

Finding a yogurt that is 100% grass-fed is not only going to be best for your family, but it is also the best scenario for the cows. Cows bodies were designed by God to exclusively eat grass. However, man has decided, only recently, to feed them corn, grain and other foods. This unnatural diet causes inflammatory conditions within the cows body and that begins to affect the quality of milk.

Avoid Added Sugar

Added sugar comes in many forms and includes sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, cane sugar, agave nectar, and many more. It is best to avoid purchasing brands that have any added sugar at all and simply sweeten the yogurt yourself at home with things like honey or stevia. If you’re going to get one that does contain added sugar, try to get one where the sugar ingredient is pretty low on the ingredients list. Ingredients are regulated to be listed in order of weight, so if the sugar product is high on the ingredients list, there is a lot added to it!

Avoid ‘Natural’ and/or ‘Artificial’ Flavors

If you’ve read any of our food breakdown blogs, such as our Homemade Biscuit post, you’ll know that anything with natural and/or artificial flavors is definitely something to stay away from. These two words mean nothing but chemicals and health problems galore.

Avoid Low-Fat or Fat-Free Options

For a long time, “health professionals” have drilled it into the minds of consumers that fat is bad. While this may be true for many added fats, naturally occurring fats are actually incredibly good for the body, especially in the case of naturally occurring dairy fats such conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). These fats have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, body fat and inflammation, improve blood sugar management and fight cancer cells.

Avoid The Label “Heat treated after culturing”

This label is regulated to be placed on brands where the product goes through an extra heat treatment after fermentation, such as the methods we discussed above. You can pretty much guarantee that these yogurts are not going to offer you any probiotic benefits and thus should be avoided. The best way to tell if the yogurt you’re purchasing is going to offer you some probiotic benefits is to make sure it says “live and active cultures” in the ingredients list.

With so many health problems popping up in today’s world, it’s important to weed through the lies plastered all over the grocery store shelves. Homemade is always going to be best for your health (at least in our experience). However, that’s not always a possibility and there’s no reason why you have to fall into the trap of fancy labels with huge price tags. We hope our tips and tricks on picking out the best yogurt available helps you in your health journey!

Stay diligent

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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