Get to know gut-supporting yogurt, plus try our tasty ideas for using it.
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regular greek labneh yogurt bowls spoon
Credit: Nico Schinco

When cruising the dairy aisle, go with your gut. Yogurt comes in many forms, from silky liquid to semi firm cheese, and all of them provide protein, calcium, B vitamins, and friendly bacteria that support digestion (otherwise known as probiotics). "The majority of dairy in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D, which helps the body maximize calcium absorption. But you can also be creative in pairing yogurt with good sources of vitamin D. Have it with eggs for breakfast, or use it in a marinade or sauce for a fatty fish, like salmon or tuna," says Vanessa Rissetto, a registered dietitian and cofounder of Culina Health, in New York City.

Here, we explain the basic differences between some popular types of yogurt that you'll find at the grocery store. Swirl the fermented wonders into our quick, creative recipes, and feel good from the inside out.

Regular

Yogurt is made by heating milk, letting it cool somewhat, adding beneficial bacteria, then letting it rest until it's thickened and tangy. The plain, unstrained kind is the ideal consistency for smoothies or to serve with spicy foods. It's also the star of our Fruit Salad with Cinnamon-Honey Yogurt.

Regarding fat percentage, two percent makes sense for most people, says Rissetto. "Fat is an important nutrient that slows the digestion of carbohydrates and makes you feel satiated," she explains. Sheep's-milk yogurt has three times the vitamin A of cow's-milk; goat's-milk leads in calcium. Consider Bellwether Farms Sheep Milk Yogurt or Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt.

Greek

This ultra-thick variety is regular yogurt that's been strained to remove more of the liquid whey; as a result, it's higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. "It can be especially helpful for people who are lactose-intolerant or looking to increase their muscle mass," says Rissetto. She recommends two percent fat for this type, too, unless you like to top it with nuts or flax or hemp seeds; in that case, go with nonfat. Whisk it with a little vanilla as a substitute for whipped cream, or spread it on fish fillets and sprinkle with breadcrumbs before roasting. For an easy, healthy lunch or snack, try Greek yogurt in our Lemony-Yogurt Salmon Tartine with Dill.

Labneh

The low-calorie Middle Eastern staple is strained even more than Greek yogurt, is often seasoned with salt, and has a dense, spreadable texture similar to that of cream cheese. Mix it with minced garlic for a sandwich condiment, or roll it into balls and refrigerate them in olive oil and hearty herbs to serve with crackers. Mix labne with fresh lime juice, fresh ginger, and ground turmeric for a healthy upgrade on sour cream in our Baked Sweet Potatoes with Edamame and Ginger Labneh.

Pro Tip: Some yogurts are pasteurized (heat-treated) to extend their shelf life, which can kill probiotics. To make sure you get them, scan ingredient lists for "live active cultures."

Food Styling by Riley Wofford; Prop Styling by Suzie Myers

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