You’ve likely heard about the health benefits of yogurt, which can include improved digestion for IBS sufferers.1 However, yogurt contains lactose, which is a common trigger for IBS. If digestive issues have led you to the low FODMAP diet, you may be wondering if Greek yogurt is a good, low FODMAP alternative to regular yogurt. Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Greek yogurt is not low FODMAP. A standard one half cup serving of plain Greek yogurt contains about 4 grams of lactose, more than the suggested 1 gram of lactose per serving. Lactose content varies slightly based on fat content, but no Greek yogurt falls within recommended low FODMAP guidelines.
That said, Greek yogurt contains less lactose than regular yogurt, so may be an option if you can tolerate some dairy. In this post, we’ll compare Greek and regular yogurt. We’ll also look at why Greek yogurt can sometimes cause digestive problems even for those who aren’t lactose intolerant.
Is Greek Yogurt FODMAP Friendly?
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Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are made the same way. In the United States, both types of yogurt are usually made from cow’s milk, which is a high lactose, high FODMAP product.
First the milk is heated, then cooled. Then bacteria is added to ferment sugar (lactose) in the milk. The primary difference is that Greek yogurt is strained, which removes most of the liquid, known as whey. This is why Greek yogurt is much thicker than regular yogurt.2
Since much of the lactose in yogurt is found in whey, Greek yogurt is lower in lactose than regular yogurt. However, Greek yogurt still has too much lactose to be considered low FODMAP.
Researchers at Monash University suggest that lactose be limited to less than 1 gram per normal serving.3 A normal serving of Greek yogurt is half a cup, or four ounces.
At this serving size, plain Greek yogurt contains an average of 4 grams of lactose. The lactose content varies a bit based on yogurt’s fat content, as shown in the table below. But all Greek yogurt is high FODMAP at a serving size of half a cup.
Lactose Content of Plain Greek Yogurt vs Plain Regular Yogurt
|Greek Yogurt||Regular Yogurt|
|Whole Fat||4.185 grams||4.575 grams|
|Reduced Fat||4.33 grams||6.91 grams|
|Fat Free||3.29 grams||8.68 grams|
While Greek yogurt is high FODMAP, you many not need to completely eliminate it from your diet. Health experts believe that even people with lactose intolerance can consume the equivalent of two cups of milk each day.6 That’s about 24 grams of lactose. You’ll need to find your own tolerance level, of course.
People who do eat Greek yogurt are well aware of its tart or sour taste. Remember, lactose is a sugar. It’s sometimes called milk sugar and is what gives milk it’s sweetness. When whey is drained from Greek yogurt, much of the sweetness drains out, too. That’s why Greek yogurt is so tart.
Due to the tartness of plain Greek yogurt, many people eat flavored Greek yogurt instead. But be careful here. Flavored yogurts can cause digestive issues even for people without lactose intolerance. That’s because flavored yogurts often contain other FODMAPS, particularly fructose, fructans or polyols.
Is Flavored Greek Yogurt Low FODMAP?
Flavored Greek yogurt is not low FODMAP. Like plain Greek yogurt, flavored Greek yogurt contains too much lactose to be low FODMAP. Flavored Greek yogurt may also contain other FODMAPs that cause digestive issues even for people without lactose intolerance.
For example, Dannon Oikos Peach Greek Yogurt lists peaches and fructose as two of the first three ingredients.7 Peaches are high FODMAP, due to the presence of sorbitol.8 And fructose is a monosaccharide, the “M” in FODMAP.
Most yogurts don’t specifically list fructose as an ingredient. Other names/sources for fructose in flavored yogurt include fruit, fruit puree, fruit blend, fruit sugar, and fruit juice.
The table below shows the lactose and fructose content for several popular brands of flavored Greek yogurt. For reference, FOMDAP researchers suggest limiting lactose to less than 1 gram per serving and fructose to less than .15 grams per serving, when another FODMAP like lactose is present in a food.3
FODMAP Content (Lactose and Fructose) in Fruit Flavored Greek Yogurt Brands
|Lactose (grams)||Fructose (grams)|
|Chobani “Hint of Flavor” Greek Yogurt||2.34||.189|
|Chobani Whole Milk Blended Greek Yogurt||2.46||.046|
|Chobani Blended Low-Fat Greek Yogurt||2.41||.350|
|Chobani Blended Non-Fat Greek Yogurt||2.36||.043|
|Chobani Fruit-on-the-Bottom Low-Fat Greek Yogurt||2.29||.379|
|Chobani Fruit-on-the-Bottom Non-Fat Greek Yogurt||2.24||.189|
|Dannon Original Light & Fit Greek Yogurt||4.75||.493|
|Dannon Activia Greek Yogurt||5.34||.131|
|Dannon Oikos Blended Greek Yogurt||5.91||.131|
|Dannon Oikos Non-Fat Greek Yogurt||5.63||.131|
|Dannon Oikos Triple Zero Blended Greek Yogurt||4.71||.123|
|Fage Total 5% Greek Yogurt||3.27||.164|
|Fage Total 2% Greek Yogurt||2.75||.164|
|Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt||2.85||.164|
|The Greek Gods||6.39||.598|
|Stonyfield Organic Greek Whole Milk Yogurt||4.89||1.31|
|Stonyfield Organic Greek 0% Fat Yogurt||5.34||.017|
|Stonyfield Organic 100% Grassfed Greek Yogurt||3.95||.031|
|Yoplait Greek 100 Protein Yogurt||5.08||.337|
|Yoplait Greek 100 Whips Yogurt||5.92||6.91|
Non-Lactose FODMAPs and Flavored Greek Yogurt
As shown in the table above, lactose and fructose content of flavored Greek yogurts varies a lot by brand.
For example, Stonyfield fruit flavored Greek yogurts have some of the lowest fructose values. That’s because this particular brand of yogurt is sweetened primarily with sucrose. It contains similar amounts of sugar as other flavored yogurts, just a different kind of sugar.
Similarly, you can see that The Greek Gods yogurt has one of the highest fructose values. This brand of yogurt is sweetened with honey, which is high in fructose, along with two other types of sugar.8 Greek Gods even produces a honey flavored yogurt product. A half cup of the honey yogurt contains 6.39 grams of lactose and 1.13 grams of fructose, both of which far exceed low FODMAP guidelines.9
And the fructose content of Yoplait Greek Whips yogurt is very high. That’s because this type of yogurt contains loads of fructose, often in the form of fruit blends or fruit puree.10 It comes in flavors like lemon meringue, vanilla cupcake and strawberry cheesecake.
The bottom line here is that, even if you’re not lactose intolerant, flavored yogurts may still cause you digestive problems, if you’re sensitive to fructose. Or to sorbitol, since some fruits used to flavor yogurt, like blackberry and peaches, contain high amounts of this FODMAP.
Finally, other brands of Greek yogurt, like Chobani, contain less well-known FODMAPs, such as chicory root fiber.11 Chicory root is a type of soluble fiber use to thicken foods. It contains fructans, which are a FODMAP. This is just another way yogurt can negatively affect people who aren’t lactose intolerant.
Final Thoughts on Greek Yogurt and the Low FODMAP Diet
If you’re not lactose intolerant, then there’s no reason to avoid yogurt, even if you’re on a low FODMAP diet. Remember, this diet is therapeutic, meant to treat digestive problems. There’s no reason to restrict foods that don’t stoke your symptoms.
That said, unless you stick with plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt, you’ll need to watch for non-lactose FODMAPs. Most flavored Greek yogurts contain fructose, which can be an issue for some people.
The amount of fructose in flavored yogurts varies and, unfortunately, fructose isn’t separated out on most nutrition labels. So, you’ll need to do your homework. And don’t forget flavored yogurts can contain other FODMAPs, too.
If you can tolerate yogurt, the best option is probably to buy plain Greek yogurt, then sweeten it with a low FODMAP sweetener of your choice. Then top it with some low FODMAP fruits. You’ll still need to monitor the overall fructose content, if fructose is a trigger for you. But, sticking with low FODMAP options means you can enjoy a yogurt parfait after all.
About the Author
Amanda Coleman, PhD, studies food culture and teaches a popular Food and Society course. Years of digestive problems led her to live low FODMAP. Now she uses her research and analysis skills to help others understand FODMAP essentials, so they can lead better, healthier lives.