By Samantha Shelton
If the healthy foods in your fridge formed a team, yogurt would be the MVP. It's packed with protein, calcium, and probiotics -- "good" bacteria that can help with digestion and boost immunity -- and it tastes like a treat. But not all yogurts are created equal. Some contain as much sugar as a candy bar, while others have more than a third of the saturated fat you're supposed to have in a day. The good news: We worked with our team of nutritionists and taste testers to come up with eight great options you can dig into without a lick of guilt. All have less than 20 grams of sugar (keep in mind that a 6-ounce serving of plain yogurt has about 13 grams of naturally occurring sugar from milk), no more than 150 calories, and less than 5 grams of fat. Go on -- give 'em a swirl.
What makes a winner
Companies submitted 85 new yogurts to FITNESS. Our experts -- Anar Allidina, RD, a dietitian in private practice in Toronto; Keri Gans, RD, the author of The Small Change Diet; and Marissa Lippert, RD, the author of The Cheater's Diet -- analyzed the ingredients and nutrition facts to help us determine which ones deserved to move to the next round. Those finalists were sampled in blind taste tests and voted on by FITNESS staffers.
Related: Go for the Greek: 10 Yogurt-Based Recipes
1. YoCrunch Greek Raspberry & Acai Super Fruit & Almonds
Fruit on the bottom and toasted-almond pieces on top (sealed in the cap so they don't get soggy) add up to a parfait that "tastes too flavorful to be good for you," a panelist said. (140 calories)
2. Fage Total 0% Cherry Greek Yogurt
"This yogurt is so thick, I can't believe it's fat-free!" a tester exclaimed. Our nutritionists' favorite part: Cherries, not sugar, are the first ingredient in the fruit mix-in. (120 calories)
3. Müller Greek Corner Honeyed Apricot
A not-too-tart taste means that Greek newbies will find this the perfect gateway yogurt. Said one: "Thanks to the light texture, I could eat this before a run and not feel weighed down." (130 calories)
4. Chobani 0% Blood Orange Greek Yogurt
Staffers described this citrusy pick, made with orange pulp and blood orange juice, as "refreshing" and "unique in a very good way." (140 calories)
Related: 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Yogurt
5. Stonyfield Oikos 1 1/2% Fat Organic Greek Raspberry Yogurt
Pureed raspberries give this "real-fruit flavor," and low-fat milk makes it creamier than nonfat yogurt but less rich than full-fat versions. (130 calories)
6. Alpina Revive Plain 0% Fat Greek Yogurt
Despite the delicious granola on top, which one staffer said she would "buy by the bag if it were sold separately," this pick has two-thirds less sugar than most of the yogurts we tested -- plus 17 grams of protein, more than any other winner. (140 calories)
7. 365 Everyday Value Nonfat Greek Yogurt with Strawberry
A separate compartment for strawberry jam lets you control the balance between sweet and tart. (150 calories)
8. Yoplait Greek 100 Vanilla
Testers loved the custardlike consistency of this winner. Sub it for a scoop of vanilla ice cream after dinner to save 17 grams of fat. (100 calories)
Why We Love Greek Yogurt
Every one of our top yogurts is Greek style, meaning a lot of the liquid has been strained out. Here's why we love what's left.
It's packed with protein.
A typical 6-ounce carton of plain nonfat Greek yogurt contains 17 or 18 grams, or about as much as half a package of tofu. The same amount of regular yogurt contains around 9 grams, so it won't keep you full as long.
It's low in carbs.
Greek yogurt has about 7 grams per serving as opposed to 12 in the standard type. It also tends to have about a third less sugar.
Related: The Best Foods to Eat for Flat Abs
It's not just for eating out of the carton.
The velvety texture and tangy taste of Greek yogurt make it a smart stand-in for mayo in tuna and pasta salads and for sour cream in dips, mashed potatoes, and baked goods.
It swings both ways.
Pinkberry will debut fresh, not frozen, Greek yogurt in January 2013 and will offer this treat nationwide by April. Although you get a slightly larger serving, it contains 15 fewer grams of sugar than an order of the chain's fro-yo. Plus it has a clean, neutral taste that works with sweet and savory toppings. Our favorite 145-calorie combo, created just for FITNESS readers and available through May at a Pinkberry near you: fresh blueberries and pomegranate seeds, honey-almond granola, and vanilla-agave syrup. Mmm!
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By Samantha Shelton