Like most moms, you're concerned that you and your kids get enough dairy products every day to maintain strong bones and teeth. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov says that the average adult woman, as well as boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 18, should have about 3 cups of dairy foods daily. A serving of yogurt can help you fulfill this requirement. However, you might be hurting, not helping, your family if you opt for full-fat yogurt over non-fat varieties.
The biggest -- and most obvious -- difference between non-fat and full-fat yogurt is also the one that may have the biggest impact on your health: the fat content. An 8-ounce serving of full-fat yogurt has nearly 8 grams of fat and 5 grams of saturated fat. It also has 32 grams of cholesterol. For the average woman, eating this amount of yogurt would provide 33 percent of her daily recommended limit of saturated fat and 10 percent of her recommended cholesterol intake per day. If you're overweight, have high blood cholesterol or heart disease, it's best to skip the full-fat yogurt in favor of non-fat, which has only a trace amount of fat and just 5 milligrams of cholesterol.
According to the USDA, an 8-ounce serving of full-fat yogurt typically has slightly less protein than the same amount of non-fat yogurt: While the whole-milk version may have about 8 grams, the skim-milk variety may have about 14 grams. Women need 46 grams of protein daily; children need anywhere from 34 to 52 grams depending on their gender and age. If you choose non-fat yogurt, you'll get an excellent source of protein -- 30 percent of a woman's RDA per cup -- without all the fat. A diet rich in lean protein sources like non-fat dairy may even help you lose weight, reported a study published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2005.
Non-fat yogurt contains 18 grams of carbohydrates in every 8-ounce serving; full-fat yogurt contains 11 grams. The average woman on a balanced diet should have between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates every day, an amount that gives her between 45 and 65 percent of her daily calories from carbohydrates. The carbohydrate in both full-fat and non-fat yogurt is in the form of milk sugar, or lactose, and is a healthier source of simple carbohydrates than refined sugar. Either type of yogurt can help you get enough, but be sure to stay clear of any types that are sweetened.
Consuming 8 ounces of full-fat yogurt will provide you with 296 milligrams of calcium, or almost 30 percent of the 1,000 milligrams of calcium a woman should have each day. That's impressive, but nonfat yogurt has even more -- 488 milligrams, or over 48 percent of your calcium requirement in an 8-ounce serving. You might not be aware that calcium isn't just for building bones. The University of Maryland Medical Center says that people who eat plenty of calcium-rich foods may be less likely to develop high blood pressure. Coupled with a low-fat diet, this can also lower your risk of stroke and heart disease.
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Dairy - How Much Food from the Dairy Group is Needed Daily?
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Dairy - What Counts as Cup in the Dairy Group?
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report - 01116, Yogurt, Plain, Whole Milk, 8 Grams Protein Per 8 Ounce
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Basic Report - 01118, Yogurt, Plain, Skim Milk, 13 Grams Protein Per 8 Ounce
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A High-Protein Diet Induces Sustained Reductions in Appetite, Ad Libitum Caloric Intake, and Body Weight Despite Compensatory Changes in Diurnal Plasma Leptin and Ghrelin Concentrations
- Report of the DGAC in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010: Part D: Section 5: Carbohydrates
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Calcium
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