What's the Best Yogurt for People With Diabetes?

Greek Yogurt: Nutrition Benefits for People With Diabetes

Glass of Greek yogurt with berries
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Yogurt, typically made from cow's milk (however, nowadays there are many alternatives), is a source of carbohydrate which is also full of good bacteria, calcium, and protein. If you have diabetes, yogurt can be a smart food choice; however, the trick is to know which kind of yogurt to choose and which to skip out on. 

What to Look for in a Yogurt

In the best kinds of yogurt, you get a good balance of protein and carbohydrate, along with calcium and healthy probiotics.

You also don't get a lot of added sugar, additives, food coloring, or saturated fat. Choosing a low-fat  or non-fat yogurt version can help you to reduce your total calorie intake as well as keep your saturated fat (the type of fat that increase bad LDL cholesterol) low. In addition, since yogurt is a source of carbohydrate, you'll want to choose a yogurt that is low in added sugars such as fruited yogurts or those yogurts with added granola, or other toppings that are rich in sugar. Therefore, it's best to choose plain, low-fat yogurt. If you need to add sweetness, top your yogurt with some berries or peaches. Frozen varieties can make your yogurt seem "syrup-y", too, for more fiber and less added sugar. 

Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt

Greek yogurt is regular yogurt that's been strained, removing some of the whey and leaving behind a thicker, more protein-rich yogurt. Greek yogurt is readily available in regular grocery stores; find it in the refrigerated dairy section.

Regular yogurt provides 5 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving, while Greek yogurt provides up to 20 grams, depending on the brand. Because it has more protein, Greek yogurt has about 1/3 the carbohydrate of regular yogurt.  And, because lactose is a source of carbohydrate in dairy products, this means that many people find Greek yogurt easier to digest than regular yogurt.

 On the other hand, Greek yogurt has less calcium than traditional yogurt, so keep that in mind if you're eating yogurt for calcium.

For people with diabetes, plain, low-fat, or non-fat Greek yogurt is an exceptional meal and snack option due to the low carbohydrate and high protein content. Avoid those Greek yogurt varieties that have added syrups, fruit preserves, and sweeteners on the side. 

How to Have Yogurt in Your Diabetes-Friendly Meal Plan

Yogurt for breakfast: For a great, filling, and nutrient dense breakfast, try 6 to 8 ounces of plain low-fat Greek yogurt topped with one serving of fresh or frozen seasonal fruit (like berries, sliced peaches, chunked apples, etc.) and top it with 1 tablespoon nuts, such as, chopped almonds for crunch, additional protein, and healthy fats. If you like, add a sugar-free sweetener, cinnamon or vanilla powder for added flavor. 

Traditionally, Greek yogurt is sweetened with honey, which is a simple sugar that could add calories and spike your blood sugar. But, if you can spare the carbohydrates, then you could try a teaspoon of honey instead of a sugar-free sweetener. However, a better idea for people with diabetes whose meal plan calls for more carbohydrate would be to stick to the sugar-free sweeteners and then perhaps to add another serving of fruit or a slice of whole wheat toast instead of the simple sugar found in honey.

Fruit and whole grains has some fiber and protein which will increase your nutrition and help to achiever fullness. Adding a serving of fruit and a sugar-free sweetener, your yogurt containing breakfast would be around 24 grams of carbohydrate. With an additional serving of fruit or whole grain toast, the meal would contain 40 grams of carbohydrate.

Yogurt in dips: Plain low or non-fat Greek yogurt can also be used almost exclusively in place of sour cream in dips and recipes since the texture and flavor are so similar. You can also sub out some mayo in coleslaw recipes. Lastly, you can use Greek yogurt it in baked goods that call for sour cream, such as cookies, scones or cake.

Yogurt in smoothies: Add some low-fat Greek yogurt to your smoothies for added thickness, texture, and protein. 

Recipes to try that use Greek yogurt:

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