The National Yogurt Association (NYA) claims all yogurts are not alike, but all yogurts in America, to be called yogurt, must start out with live and active organisms—Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Strepto-coccus thermophilus. These live cultures offer many health benefits, such as “preventing gastrointestinal infections, boosting the body’s immune system, fighting certain types of cancer and preventing osteoporosis.” That’s why it’s important, the NYA claims, to purchase yogurt with the words “live and active cultures,” because the more the better.
Although all yogurts start out with live cultures , not all yogurts end up with live cultures. Some yogurts are heat-treated after the fermentation process and that kills most of the beneficial bacteria. The reason manufacturer’s heat-treat yogurt is to prolong its shelf life or to reduce it’s tartness, but in the process they are also undermining the quality of yogurt. Therefore, to help consumers, the NYA has introduced a voluntary program to let consumers know which products contain live and active cultures by allowing companies to apply for an NYA seal of approval.
The way you’ll be able to tell which yogurts have live and active cultures, is by looking for the NYA’s seal, shown on the right. This seal will be affixed to yogurt products that meet the NYA’s requirements. According to the NYA, “In order for manufacturers to carry the seal, refrigerated yogurt products must contain at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture, and frozen yogurt products must contain 10 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture. This level was based on a survey of leading research scientists involved in clinical studies of the health attributes associated with live and active culture yogurt.”
In addition, to help you know which yogurts already carry the NYA seal, here’s a list of NYA approved yogurts:
- Dannon Yogurt
- General Mills/Yoplait
- Johanna Foods
- Red Mango
- The Kroger Company
- Well’s Dairy, Inc.