Thinking of ditching cow's milk and trying an alternative non-dairy yogurt instead? Good news: there are plenty of options out there, all delicious and good for you. Of course, there are some drawbacks, regarding lower nutrient counts, so be wary of that and supplement or add in other foods to your morning yogurt, as needed.
"Compared to dairy-milk, mainstream non-dairy yogurt products are much lower in protein. The nutrient content otherwise depends on the type of non-dairy yogurt as well as added ingredients," says Kelly R. Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
And, be cautious of sugar when reading labels. "Many also contain similar amounts of sugar as compared to dairy yogurts. Dairy or non-dairy, I recommend buying unsweetened yogurt most of the time and sweetening it on your own with a teaspoon of raw honey or pure maple syrup, plus mixing in some real fruit," says Jones.
So, what are these common types? Jones shares her favorites below.
"Coconut yogurt is the one I see most often in a typical grocery store and is the type that provides less than 1 gram of protein and often a lot of sugar," says Jones. So, be mindful of labels and add in some protein, like nuts or seeds.
"Most of the energy content of this yogurt is coming from fat, particularly saturated fat. While coconut oil gets a lot of press as a 'healthy' fat, it's still saturated and evidence shows our body processes it the same way as the saturated fat in dairy products," says Jones. So, maybe don't eat this yogurt daily, but only a few days in the week.
"Unless fortified, it also is lacking in calcium and B-vitamins that are naturally found in dairy milk. If you opt for this type because you like the flavor, be sure you eat it with another protein source for satiety," she says.
Plus, worried about your gut health? "It is also harder to find cultured coconut yogurts," with probiotic and healthy bacteria strains. (Eds note: The Coconut Cult has incredible options that have 25 billion probiotics per serving.)
Almond yogurt contains more protein than coconut yogurt, making it incredibly satiating, and they also contain more beneficial fats, says Jones. "I've seen sugar content to be slightly lower than that of traditional yogurt," she says. Though, you should still be mindful of how the sugar fits into your overall diet. "Unsweetened versions are available and there is even an almond Greek yogurt on the market now, too," she says. And, if you're curious, you can also make almond milk at home, for another way to swap out a dairy product.
Cashew yogurt is making its way into more stores, available at Whole Foods and health food stores everywhere. Not only does cashew yogurt have more protein and healthy fats than coconut yogurt (much like almond yogurt does, too), but it also contains probiotics. "The most popular cashew yogurt brands add live cultures (probiotics) just like many dairy yogurt brands do," she says.
"Soy yogurt will be the most comparable to a low fat dairy-yogurt in protein and fat content, but is the one hardest to find in grocery stores. While Stonyfield has theirs available, they don't have an unsweetened version," says Jones. So, you might take in some unwanted sugar. "Nancy's has a cultured unsweetened soy yogurt that I recommend often, but is less available on store shelves, so ask your local grocer to carry it," Jones suggests.