Is yogurt good for you? It's nutrient-rich and high in protein.

Yogurt is an easy breakfast, snack or even dessert. The beauty of yogurt is that it can be prepared in many different ways – some favorite toppings include nuts, granola, fruit or chocolate, but the possibilities are nearly endless.

So is this popular treat healthy? Yes.

“Yogurt is a high-protein, nutrient-rich dairy food that deserves some attention, not only for its nutrition package but also because it can be served up savory or sweet," says Dolores Woods, RDN, a nutritionist with UTHealth Houston School of Public Health. "Yogurt absolutely fits into healthy diets, because it contains high-quality protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, iodine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid (B5) and vitamin B12."

Woods walks us through everything you need to know about yogurt.

Is yogurt healthy or junk?

Healthy! Yogurt contains many nutrients that are vital for the body.

“Eating yogurt is linked to better diet quality and higher nutrient consumption in children and adults," Woods says. "For example, research found yogurt eaters have higher consumption of fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin D. And, research also found the highest intake of yogurt was linked with higher calcium, iodine and riboflavin consumption in children compared with non-yogurt eaters. Both studies reported that yogurt consumers had higher diet quality and better markers of metabolic health.”

Which yogurt is the healthiest?

“The beauty about yogurt is the wide variety of nutritious options that can meet individual taste, texture and wellness needs, while also being part of an overall healthy diet. Since there are many choices; it’s not fair to the public to only list one,” Woods says. However, she does offer a few tips for picking yogurt:

  • Whether going for Greek, Icelandic or traditional yogurt, I suggest going with a plain option and adding in your own savory or sweet flavors. This allows you to have full control of the added sugar and calories.

  • If you don’t have time to add your own flavors, then opt for a yogurt that is flavored with real fruit or you can pick a yogurt flavored with low- or no-calorie sweeteners like sucralose or monk fruit.

  • If you are watching calories, then I’d opt for a lower-fat, plain variety or a lower-fat, flavored variety without added sugar, which will still have all of the nutrition just with less fat, less sugar and fewer calories.

  • Most yogurts, in their whole food form with little added extras, are very nutrient-rich and wholesome. It is when there are a lot of non-yogurt mix-ins that can pile on the sugar or calories.

Is there a downside to eating yogurt?

Some yogurts contain added sugar, which can bump up the calories and can be problematic if you have diabetes. Additionally, some “diet” yogurts may contain artificial sweeteners, which can irritate the gut. But, it’s OK to splurge every once in a while. “Of course, it’s A-OK to enjoy a more decadent yogurt on occasion,” says Woods.

More: Ginger has been used for thousands of years. What are its health benefits?

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Is yogurt good for you? Healthiest yogurt explained plus downsides