A Tasty Cultural Revolution

Long gone are the days when having yogurt for lunch meant grabbing a wax-covered container that had sour milky stuff on top of a layer of "fruit" underneath. You mixed it all together, hoped for the best and scarfed it down. Even though it had 9 or 10 grams of fat per container, it was considered a "diet" food, something more to be endured than enjoyed.

These days yogurt comes in more than just the basic strawberry, blueberry and vanilla flavors - try Apple Cinnamon, Coconut Custard Pie and White Chocolate Raspberry. With so many different permutations, The Saturday Early Show crew decided to call in an expert to explain which yogurt is best for which type of person.

Nutritionist Keri Glassman says that just because something is labeled "yogurt" doesn't mean it's all-natural and good for you. Generally, though, it's a good addition to your diet.

"It's a great source of calcium, phosphorous, riboflavin, B12, pantothenic acid, zinc, potassium and protein," she said. "It also contains 'good' bacteria. And yogurt is great for kids! It's high in protein and calcium which children need for growth, and it's easier to digest than milk. The probiotics in yogurt help to boost children's immune systems."

However, the nutritionals do vary from brand to brand. A four-ounce container of Dannon's Activia yogurt, which is supposed to help digestion, has 110 calories and 2 grams of fat. But six ounces of Dannon's "Light and Fit" style yogurt has just 60 calories and zero grams of fat.

The Activia brand, which arrived in markets last year, promises to "regulate your digestive system by helping reduce long intestinal transit time" because it includes a probiotic culture. Other new yogurts make similar claims. But, we asked Glassman, do we really need these cultures as an addition to our diet?

"Probably not!" she said. "(We need probiotic cultures) only when our immune systems are compromised. Other than that, yogurt on its own is probably fine!"

Another popular new product on the shelves is Greek yogurt, which is thicker and tangier than regular yogurt - it tastes more like sour cream, in fact. "Greek yogurt is made through a straining process that removes the whey (liquid) from the yogurt," she explained. "This makes Greek yogurt creamier than regular yogurt, but gives it more protein and less sugar per serving than other yogurts.

"Also, Greek yogurt doesn't have any preservatives, artificial colors or flavors or added sugar. You can also cook with Greek Yogurt. Because the whey is removed, Greek yogurt can be heated to high temperatures and it won't separate."

Try adding the Greek yogurt to recipes that call for mayonnaise, cream or sour cream.

The latest type of yogurt is from Iceland. Skyr (pronounced "skeer") yogurt isn't technically yogurt. "(It) is actually a type of fresh cheese. It's made from pasteurized, skimmed, Icelandic cow's milk and the same live active cultures as yogurt has. Natural enzymes are added and milk is left to coagulate. It is then strained to remove the whey."

According to Glassman, it is high in calcium and keeps without refrigeration, which makes it good if you're eating on the run.
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