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What’s the Best Yogurt for People with Diabetes?

Published on
Updated on
What’s the Best Yogurt for People with Diabetes?

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Yogurt is a rich source of protein, fat, and good bacteria, all of which can contribute to building a balanced meal or snack for a person with diabetes.
  • Different varieties of yogurt can contain higher amounts of carbohydrates and sugars, which can raise blood sugar levels.
  • Certain yogurt types and preparations will be more beneficial for diabetes meal planning and blood sugar management. 

Yogurt is made from cultured, fermented milk that is often eaten for breakfast or as a snack. Fermented products have long been associated with improved health outcomes, but people with diabetes should consider what type of yogurt they consume and how it may or may not impact their blood sugar levels. 

In this article, you’ll learn which types of yogurt are more and less likely to spike your blood sugar if you have diabetes.  

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Diabetes and Yogurt

Yogurt is a nutrient-dense food that’s rich in protein, fat, probiotics, and several vitamins, including calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. Because of the natural sugars present in yogurt, unsweetened yogurt also contains a small amount of carbohydrates. With toppings that add fiber and other nutrients to the dish, yogurt can provide a balanced meal for someone with diabetes. In fact, one review of randomized clinical trials suggests that yogurt can have a positive impact on metabolic control of patients with diabetes. 

One randomized trial also suggests that probiotic-rich yogurt may have a beneficial effect on blood sugar and blood pressure in people with diabetes. But certain types of yogurt may be less beneficial for diabetes than others. 

Does yogurt spike blood sugar?

While naturally rich in protein, fat, beneficial bacteria, and natural sugars, many yogurt products can also contain added sugars, usually in the form of fruit spreads, jams, or honeys. In some preparations, additions of sweetened granola or other toppings will also add to the overall carbohydrate total of the dish. Because the body ultimately breaks down carbohydrates into sugars, some types and preparations of yogurt can cause a spike in blood sugar levels.

Different Types of Yogurt

Any trip down the dairy aisle of your local grocery or convenience store will demonstrate the wide variety of yogurt types available. Understanding the differences between these types of yogurt will help you to select a variety that’s best for your tastes and health needs.

Traditional yogurt

Traditional yogurt is made by adding bacterial cultures to milk which is then heated and left to cool for several hours at room temperature. The bacterial cultures help convert natural sugars into milk, or lactose, and give yogurt its familiar tangy and tart flavor.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is known for its thick, whipped-like consistency. Unlike traditional yogurt, Greek yogurt is strained to remove liquid whey, which helps it to develop a thicker texture. 

Australian yogurt

Australian yogurt is unstrained like traditional yogurt, but requires a longer and slower cook time. The result is a yogurt that’s creamier in texture than traditional yogurt, but not quite as creamy as Greek yogurt.

French yogurt

Similar to traditional and Australian yogurt, French yogurt is unstrained. But rather than being prepared in a large vat, French yogurt is cultured in individual-size containers, which are usually made of glass or ceramic. Its texture is smooth like traditional yogurt, but often less sweet.

Lactose-free yogurt

People who are lactose-intolerant may be familiar with the lactose-free variety of yogurt which is treated with an enzyme in order to break down the lactose found in milk. Similar to taste and texture as traditional yogurt, lactose-free yogurt is a great alternative for people who have trouble digesting lactose.

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Choosing the Best Yogurt for People with Diabetes

People with diabetes should take several factors into consideration when choosing which yogurt to eat to help ensure a satisfying meal that won’t spike their blood sugar levels. 

Avoid added sugars

Blood sugar management is an important component of diabetes meal planning, which is why you should be careful to monitor your intake of added sugars when you have diabetes. Avoiding yogurts with added sugars can help to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Yogurt types that are more likely to contain added sugars include products that contain fruit, honey, jam, or granola. If you’re ever in doubt, you can check the nutrition facts label on the back of the product.

Try greek yogurt

Greek yogurt contains more than twice as much protein and fewer carbohydrates than most traditional yogurts. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100g of full-fat Greek yogurt has 9 grams of protein and 3.96 grams of carbohydrates compared to just 3.47 grams of protein and 4.66 carbohydrates in full-fat traditional yogurt

The fewer carbohydrates in Greek yogurt can help to keep blood sugar levels stable while its higher protein content can keep you feeling fuller, for longer. Some research even suggests that higher protein diets can help people with diabetes better manage their blood sugar

Check the fat content

Certain types of yogurt are more likely to have higher fat content, like Greek yogurt. 100 grams of full-fat Greek yogurt contains 5 grams of fat while the same amount of full-fat traditional yogurt has just over 3 grams of fat. 

Unless your healthcare provider or dietitian has recommended that you follow a low-fat diet, choosing a yogurt with more fat may be more beneficial for diabetes management. This is because fat can help to slow the digestion of carbohydrates and their conversion into sugar after eating, keeping blood sugar levels after meals lower. 

Make sure you like the taste

Eating foods that can benefit your health is important, but equally important is eating foods that you enjoy. If you prefer the flavor of traditional yogurt with fruit over plain Greek yogurt, you should honor your unique tastes and preferences. When eaten in moderation and part of a balanced diet, most yogurt types can still offer nutritional benefits.  

Ways to Enjoy Yogurt

For many, yogurt is considered a breakfast food. But there are several ways to incorporate yogurt into your diet:

  • Mixed with fruit or nut butter: Whether you’re eating yogurt for breakfast or a midday snack, adding whole fruits and/or nut butter to the meal will add additional flavor, calories, fiber, and protein for a more balanced dish.
  • Add to your favorite dip: Yogurt can lend a creamy and high-protein addition to some of your favorite dips and dressings, like spinach and artichoke dip. 
  • Add to a fruit and vegetable smoothie: Give your smoothie added protein and fat by adding yogurt into the mix. It can also lend the drink a creamier, smoother texture.
  • Substitute for ice cream: For dessert or an after-dinner snack, try spooning your favorite fruit or sauce over yogurt for dessert.

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Takeaway

Yogurt is a great source of protein, fat, calcium, and good bacteria. Some research suggests that regular consumption of yogurt may help to manage blood sugar and blood pressure in people with diabetes. 

Importantly, there are types of yogurt that contain more added sugars and carbohydrates, including yogurts that are packaged with fruit, jams, or honey. Opting for an unsweetened yogurt with toppings that add fiber or more protein to the dish (like whole fruit or nut butter) can help to keep your post-meal blood sugar levels stable.

Managing Diabetes with an RD

Understanding which foods may benefit your health when you have diabetes can be confusing. Working with a diabetes dietitian can help you to identify foods that can help to satisfy your tastes and manage your diabetes with ease.

Find a dietitian near you that accepts insurance using Nourish.

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References

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While you don’t seem to be at risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes based on this quiz, please contact your healthcare provider with any concerns. If you want to learn more about diet and lifestyle changes with diabetes, find a registered dietitian covered by insurance with Nourish.

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