Has the yogurt aisle become confusing to anyone else? And since when did it take up the entire aisle?! It seems like not too long ago, choices were limited to cow’s milk yogurt and a few dairy alternatives that came in nonfat, low fat or whole milk versions. Being trendy with yogurt meant you bought the Greek version! Not anymore. Now when you get to the yogurt section the variety and choices can be overwhelming.
Not only are companies finding new ways to package and process the yogurt, the amount of different types of yogurt available was shocking! As I quickly scanned the aisle for my typical Greek yogurt version, I came across many versions I had not heard of. From French, Icelandic, Greek and Australian style yogurts, to plant-based yogurts such as cashew, almond and soy-based, to drinkable yogurts like Kefir, to yogurts with no additives, GMOs or preservatives and even yogurt with aloe vera gel pieces. And these were only a few of the yogurts I saw in the “Specialty Yogurt” section!
Behind me was a vast selection of the “traditional” yogurts with many different flavors and styles. After spending way longer than necessary scoping out the selection, I decided it was time to do a little research and see what the these “special” yogurts were all about.
Australian vs. Greek vs. French Vs. Icelandic
Australian: Unstrained yogurt that is typically sweetened with honey. The texture is described as velvety and has a creaminess somewhere in the middle of Greek and traditional style yogurts. Australian yogurt does not have as much protein as Greek yogurt but does have more than traditional styles. Popular brands are Noosa (made from whole milk) and Wallaby (made from nonfat milk).
French: Known to some as “the new Greek yogurt”. This yogurt is also unstrained like the Australian style, but is firmer and less tart. Each serving is individually cultured for eight hours in the same small glass pot that consumers will buy off the shelf. Although French style yogurt mirrors Greek style consistency, French generally has less protein than Greek and can contain more sugar (depending on the brand). Popular brand is Oui by Yoplait.
Icelandic: Also known as skyr, this yogurt is strained and tends to be creamier and thicker than Greek yogurt. It is made the same way as Greek yogurt, but strained a little bit more (making it thicker) and has more protein (because it takes almost four cups of milk to make one cup of Icelandic yogurt!). It can be made with both nonfat and whole milk. Popular brands include Smári, Ísey Skyr, and siggi’s.
Greek: This yogurt is strained to remove the liquid whey, causing it to have double the amount of protein as regular yogurt. Can be found in nonfat, low fat and whole milk versions. It is described to be the most tart of the four and can therefore be substituted for savory uses as well. Popular brands include Chobani, FAGE, and Dannon Oikos.
Cashew: Tangy and nutty yogurt. After a quick google search, I found many people are making this style yogurt at home and there was a large variety of easy to follow recipes available. The store bought version I found (Forager Cashewgurt) was lower in protein than dairy yogurts, containing 2 grams per 5.3 oz. It was a thin consistency, almost drinkable (however, some of the homemade versions were described as thick and creamy).
Almond: Described as light and sweet, tasting very similar to many dairy yogurt brands. The store bought version I found, Almond Dream, contains only 1g protein but contained good sources of fat and was low in sugar. I also found quite a few of recipes online to make at home!
Soy: The protein content of soy-based yogurts mirror dairy yogurt the closest of the plant-based yogurts. It is made out of soy milk and often has yogurt bacteria added. Most soy based yogurts are fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
(Other plant-based yogurts are made from hemp, flax or coconut milk)
- Not all health claims are necessarily “healthier”. Light yogurts tend to have more sugar to make up for the flavor lost when removing some of the fat.
- Choose plain yogurts and sweeten them yourself with fresh or frozen fruit to avoid unwanted added sugars and artificial sweeteners.
- Choose yogurts with fewer ingredients to avoid artificial sweeteners and additives
- Not all yogurts contain live cultures! Look at the packaging before buying if this is an additive you’re looking for! The National Yogurt Association’s “Live & Active Cultures” seal insures that the yogurt contains live cultures.
- Plant-based yogurts are not naturally high in calcium and Vitamin D and therefore are often fortified with these nutrients. Look for brands that do fortify their yogurt to get in that calcium and Vitamin D.