Plain, unflavored yogurt is the original and most versatile of yogurts. It contains from 100 to 160 calories per cup, depending on the fat content. Other yogurts, from nonfat to whole milk, come in a variety of flavors, ranging from simple vanilla with added sugar to fruit-flavored. Here's a guide to the main kinds and how they compare in flavor and fat content.
Regular (dairy) yogurt
- Whole milk yogurt: The richest of the plain yogurts, whole-milk yogurt has from 6 to 8 grams of fat per cup. Some brands of whole-milk yogurt, called farm-style, come with a layer of yogurt cream on top.
- Low-fat yogurt: Low-fat yogurt may contain anywhere from 2 to 5 grams of fat per cup.
- Nonfat yogurt: Nonfat yogurt contains less than 0.5 percent milk fat by weight. It is less tangy than either low-fat or whole-milk yogurt and makes a good stand-in for sour cream.
- Greek yogurt: Over the past decade or so, Greek yogurt has become increasingly popular. Greek yogurt is traditionally yogurt that has been strained and had the whey removed, resulting in a thicker yogurt. If sugar or fruit preserves are added, it may be just as sugary as conventional yogurts.
- Whipped yogurt: Whipped yogurts have more air, which gives them a lighter consistency. They have fewer calories, because there’s less actual yogurt in the container. But you also get less calcium, protein, and other beneficial nutrients.
- Goat’s milk yogurt: This is a full-flavored yogurt with a slightly more pronounced gamy flavor. If you’re a fan of goat cheese, you’ll enjoy goat’s milk yogurt.
- Labneh (labne): This thick Middle Eastern yogurt “cheese” is smooth and creamy like sour cream. It is often eaten with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped mint, and served with pita bread.
- Sheep’s milk yogurt: This is a rich and creamy full-flavored yogurt. Like goat's milk yogurt, it has a lightly gamy flavor.
- Soy yogurt: Made from soy milk, this product has the texture and consistency of dairy yogurt. Soy yogurt is available in different flavors with and without active cultures.
Yogurt drinks are really just thinner, pourable versions of regular yogurt, and come in the same range of flavors. There are also a couple of slightly different drinks available:
- Kefir: A close cousin of yogurt, kefir also has its roots in Eastern Europe. It was originally a beverage made from mare’s milk, fermented with a cultured “starter”—akin to a sourdough starter—until it developed a low alcohol content. A modern nonalcoholic version sold in the United States is made in much the same way as yogurt but using different cultures. It tends to be somewhat less tart than plain yogurt. Kefir can be made from whole or low-fat milk, and is sold plain and fruit-flavored.
- Lassi: This Indian yogurt drink can be found in restaurants and East Indian markets, but it is more often homemade. It is made by thinning yogurt with a little water and adding either savory spices such as cumin, or sweet fruit juices such as mango.