Probiotic Yogurts: Are They Legit, and Which Are Actually Worth Trying?
Probiotic yogurts contain healthy bacteria that can support immune and digestive function.
When shopping for probiotic yogurts, ensure they contain live and active cultures for the best benefits.
Not all yogurts are probiotics, so read the label before purchasing.
Lately, people have become extremely interested in finding ways to improve their gut or digestive health. Visit any social media platform, and you’ll see a nutritionist or influencer sharing their favorite foods and drinks for gut health like overnight oats, Kombucha, yogurt, berries, olive oil, and so on. The advice is designed to remedy signs of poor gut health in people who may have a shaky microbiome, and better a person’s overall health—and people are eating that up (no pun intended).
Probiotic yogurt is a popular food many consume to improve their gut health. We’re all familiar with yogurt and may regularly consume it. While eating yogurt already has some well-known benefits, does switching to probiotic yogurt impact someone’s digestive health?
Here’s what we found out about this “gut-friendly” yogurt.
About the Experts:
Lena Bakovic, RDN, CNSC, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Top Nutrition Coaching with expertise in gut health.
Yelena Wheeler, MPH, a registered dietitian nutritionist and health writer for the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC). She has more than a decade of experience.
What Does Probiotic Yogurt Do?
“In simple terms, probiotics are good or beneficial bacteria contained within certain food products and probiotic supplements commonly in the form of capsules or tablets,” says Lena Bakovic, RDN, CNSC, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Top Nutrition Coaching.
Probiotics can be found in yogurt (of course) but also in sourdough bread, most commercial pickles, and other fermented foods. (1)
According to Yelena Wheeler, MPH, a registered dietitian nutritionist and health writer for the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC), probiotic yogurts are “yogurts that contain live and active cultures of bacteria.”
Probiotic yogurts can be beneficial for your health, as they are a source of the following nutrients: (2)
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B12
- Fatty acids
Eating probiotic yogurts may pose several health benefits, such as: (3)
- Maintaining the balance of healthy bacteria in the digestive system
- Boosting the immune system
- Reducing the length and severity of sickness
- Reducing unpleasant digestive problems, including diarrhea, intestinal pain, and bloating
Are All Yogurts Probiotic?
“No, there are yogurts that are heat treated, which destroys live bacteria and therefore would not contain probiotics,” Wheeler says.
Several types of yogurt are available, from plant-based to whole milk, so it’s crucial to ensure you’re getting the right one.
“It’s important to check the label on the yogurt packaging to help identify whether live or active bacterial cultures are present,” Bakovic says.
Aside from yogurt labeled “probiotic,” you can also look at a yogurt’s colony forming units, or CFUs, to determine if a yogurt has probiotics.
CFUs are the number of live bacteria per gram when the yogurt was manufactured. Typically, yogurt can have about 1,000,000 CFUs, the minimum amount required for the product to be labeled “Live and Active Cultures.” (4)
Some common live and active cultures you might find in probiotic yogurt include: (5)
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
- Saccharomyces boulardii
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bacillus coagulans
Navigating gut health trends can be overwhelming for non-health fanatics. If you’re unsure where to start with probiotic yogurts, don’t worry—we’ve compiled a list of the best ones to support your digestive health.