2020 Low FODMAP Yogurt Guide – Greek, Icelandic & More
I began my low FODMAP journey many years ago and sadly, discovered that lactose is one of my triggers. Giving up my favorite yogurts, ice cream, and milk wasn’t easy, but to my surprise, I have discovered many gut-friendly dairy swaps that have filled this gap without sacrificing taste. In recent years, I have experimented with many lactose-free yogurts, and even spent time fermenting my own. All this has made me pretty savvy in the dairy aisle, and in this article, I aim to share what I’ve learned, so you can find the low FODMAP yogurt that suits you best.
Many have a false belief that the low FODMAP diet is a dairy-free diet. While it is true that dairy foods contain lactose, super low lactose foods like aged cheese fall within compliant range. Monash sets the lactose cut off at one gram per serving, meaning any food or beverage with greater than one gram of sugar can be excessive in lactose, thus high FODMAP. However, even Monash states that those with lactose sensitivities can tolerate lactose in quantities of 12-15 grams per day and maybe even more if spread out throughout the day.
Given that some dairy foods are allowed on the low FODMAP diet, let’s explore a popular breakfast and snack staple, yogurt. Are you confused about how to find a low FODMAP yogurt? If you answered yes, you are not alone. The dairy section of the grocery store has exploded in recent years with an array of yogurts including traditional, Greek, Icelandic, goat’s milk, almond, coconut, cashew, soy, and even pea protein yogurt. Many of us struggle to know which yogurt to choose without even considering the extra layer of confusion of FODMAPs.
Health Benefits of Yogurt
As a GI dietitian, I strongly believe in eating probiotic rich foods like yogurt to help maintain a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. Following a low FODMAP diet may negatively impact your gut bacteria, especially if followed for a long duration of time. This is one reason why it is meant to be a temporary diet.
Yogurt is one of the easiest ways to introduce beneficial probiotics into your diet. While there are a lot of fermented vegetables to choose from (think kimchi, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut), many struggle with the taste. Also, adding a new probiotic supplement is not typically advised, since many of them contain high FODMAP prebiotics and they can also muddle results of the FODMAP learning experiment. Thus, a food first approach is probably the best approach.
Low FODMAP Yogurts
Lactose-free yogurts are generally compliant, however you should still take a look at the label and avoid those containing high FODMAP ingredients. Lactase enzyme is added at the time of processing, which results in a 100% lactose-free yogurt. My favorite way to enjoy lactose-free yogurt is to add one serving of a low FODMAP fruit, a sprinkle of cinnamon and maybe a drizzle of maple syrup.
- Green Valley Creamery Organic Lactose Free Yogurt – Plain, Vanilla, Strawberry or Blueberry
- YQ Yoplait Yogurt – Plain, Vanilla, Strawberry, Coconut, Lime or Blueberry
- Yoplait Lactose Free – French, Vanilla, or Strawberry
Greek yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt, a process that removes much of the whey, resulting in a lower lactose content. Monash has recently tested Greek yogurt, and the low FODMAP serving is ¾ ounce (23 grams). At 3 tablespoons, Greek yogurt is moderate in FODMAPs.
FODMAP Friendly gave the pass to a more generous serving size of ⅘ cup (200 grams). Feel free to experiment with these portion sizes based on your comfort level. For more information on this topic please read this article written by Joanna Baker ADP, AN, RD, Diana Reid RD, Audrey Inouye RD, and myself. Do not forget to check the food label to ensure high FODMAP ingredients have not been added.
If you are looking for a 100% lactose free Greek yogurt, check out this new yogurt by Green Valley Creamery.
Icelandic yogurt has a similar amount of protein as the Greek variety. It is smooth, creamy, and a little thicker than traditional yogurt without so much of the tang. Siggi’s is a well known Icelandic yogurt which is fairly low in lactose. Siggi’s also offers a lactose free plain yogurt which is low FODMAP. Unfortunately, there is a little too much agave in the Siggi’s Vanilla, placing it in the high FODMAP range.
This variety is low FODMAP per Monash in small portions. FODMAP Friendly gave Redwood Hill Farm Goat Milk Yogurt – Plain and Blueberry the pass and this can be found at most grocers. Goat yogurt is definitely worth a try as it offers a little sweet, mild, delicate flavor that pairs well with many low FODMAP add ins or as a solo fix.
Coconut yogurt has a mild sweet, coconut taste and is low FODMAP at ½ cup. One of the more popular brands is So Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative, which is low FODMAP in the following flavors:
- Unsweetened Vanilla
Another brand, COYO, makes a delicious, creamy, rich coconut yogurt that many enjoy. Best stick with the plain as the Vanilla, fruit-flavored, and chocolate all contain either inulin or apple juice concentrate.
Want more low FODMAP tips in the dairy aisle? Check out our article on Low FODMAP Milk Alternatives.
Yogurts to Approach with Caution
Start with a small portion to test tolerance, and increase to a full serving as tolerated.
Almond yogurt has not been tested by Monash, however it is likely low in small portions like ½ cup. Almonds can be high or low based on serving size, so it would be advised to keep portions small when testing tolerance to this yogurt. Most FODMAPers report positive responses to this yogurt alternative.
- Silk Almond Milk Yogurt Alternative – Vanilla, Strawberry, and Dark Chocolate
- Personal favorite: Kite Hill Almond Yogurt – Unsweetened, Plain, Strawberry, or Blueberry
Like almond, cashew yogurt has not been tested by Monash, however based on recent news of cashew milk being low FODMAP, cashew yogurt may follow suit.
Recent testing of pea protein brought mixed results, and this ingredient is no longer listed as low FODMAP per Monash. However, Ripple Pea Protein Yogurt contains only 6 grams of pea protein, which is far less than previously tested low FODMAP pea protein powders.
Based on the lower protein content, pea protein yogurt is likely low FODMAP. Taste-wise, it has a creamy, smooth texture, but comes in a little too thin for my liking. From a nutrition perspective, I do appreciate the moderate protein intake and the low sugar content.
Oat yogurt has not been tested by Monash, however it is likely low FODMAP since oat milk and oats are also low FODMAP. Make sure to check the label as many contain hidden high FODMAP ingredients. For example So Delicious and Nancy’s Oatmilk Yogurts both contain faba beans, making them high FODMAP.
If you’re looking for something to try, this new oat-based yogurt by Chobani appears to be low FODMAP.
Yogurts to Avoid
Soy yogurt has not been tested by Monash, however it is most likely high FODMAP and best to avoid. This variety is made from soy milk, which is high FODMAP when made from soybeans. Soy milk made from soy protein is low FODMAP, however the majority of US-based soy yogurts are derived from soybeans making them high in galactans.
Cow’s Milk (aka Traditional)
Cow’s milk (aka traditional yogurt) is high FODMAP due to excessive lactose. Even though the active cultures help to decrease the lactose load, many traditional yogurts remain too high in lactose and not appropriate for the low FODMAP diet.
Other High FODMAP Ingredients and Yogurt Additives
Quite often, high FODMAP ingredients are added to dairy and nondairy milk. When reading the label, avoid yogurts containing the following ingredients:
- Agave (unless sugar content is 5 grams of less)
- Chicory root or chicory root extract
- Faba beans
- Fruit juice concentrate (apple, pear, etc)
- Fruit juice purees
- High FODMAP fruits such as peaches, mango, apple, pear, cherry, etc.
- High fructose corn syrup
- Honey (unless sugar content is 7 grams or less)
- Whey protein concentrate (unless label states suitable for lactose intolerance)
No need to avoid yogurts containing fruit and vegetable juice added for color since they are added in only very small portions. This is not enough to trigger any IBS symptoms.
Low FODMAP Yogurt Toppers
- Sweeten plain yogurt with one serving of low FODMAP fruit or a small amount (1-2 teaspoons) of strawberry preserves or maple syrup.
- Sprinkle 2-4 tablespoons of a low FODMAP granola such as Nature’s Path Pumpkin Flax Granola, or top with your favorite low FODMAP cereal.
- Enjoy with a low FODMAP serving of nuts and one serving of a low FODMAP fruit.
- Substitute plain lactose-free yogurt for mayonnaise or sour cream.
- Use your favorite low FODMAP yogurt as the base for your favorite dips for fruits and raw vegetables
- Mix ¼ cup of the low FODMAP certified goodMix Foods Blend 11 or NeoBlend into a low FODMAP yogurt for a high fiber, satisfying breakfast or snack.
I hope that this article helps you find your new favorite gut-friendly yogurt! If you have a chance, please tell us your favorite varieties in the comments below.