By Kym Campbell, BSc. | Updated April 13th, 2023
Yogurt is a useful ingredient in a PCOS-friendly lifestyle. But you need to be smart about how you pick products. In this article, I’ll show you how to know the good from the bad and give you some brand recommendations.
Should You Avoid Dairy with PCOS?
Until you’ve done a dairy-elimination diet, then yes. You should avoid dairy if you have PCOS. I explain why in this PCOS and dairy article.
That’s what we do during my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge. For many participants, it’s one of the reasons they get such great results.
But Isn’t Yogurt Okay for PCOS?
Many studies have shown that fermented dairy foods like yogurt reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes [1-3]. This is especially important for PCOS women with insulin resistance.
The reason yogurt shows up well in these studies though is because of the live cultures of bacteria they contain [4, 5]. But these benefits are working against several negative effects. Dairy can disrupt hormone balance and cause inflammation [6-9]. Added sugar in yogurt can also be a problem.
This is why unsweetened, non-dairy yogurts are better for people with PCOS. They contain all the good stuff but skip the sugar and dairy components.
Health Benefits of Yogurt
Altering your macronutrient intake is one of the best ways to treat PCOS naturally. As I explain in my article on the best macros for PCOS, this usually means eating more fat. This is especially useful if you’re trying to lose weight with PCOS.
Unsweetened non-dairy yogurts are a great source of healthy fats. Almond yogurt is good, but coconut yogurt is even better. That’s because coconut yogurt is rich in medium-chain triglycerides. These unique fatty acids promote fat loss from the stomach and thigh areas [10, 11]. That’s why many people take MCT oil as a nutritional supplement.
Adding unsweetened yogurt to carb or sugar-rich foods lowers the glycemic load. This reduces blood sugar levels and helps combat insulin resistance. As I explain in my article on fruits for PCOS, adding yogurt is one of the best ways to enjoy any type of fruit. Many participants in my free 30-Day PCOS Diet Challenge find this a useful addition to their daily routine.
I encourage people to eat as much yogurt as they like. If it’s dairy-free and low in sugar, it’s hard to eat too much. Your fullness hormones won’t let you.
Last but not least, yogurt contains both pre and probiotics. This is good for gut health and good for PCOS. Improving gut health is one of the essential natural treatments for PCOS.
Worst Yogurts For PCOS
Nutritional labels tell you everything you need to know about yogurt. Generally speaking, the shorter the ingredient list the better. Check that your product doesn’t contain:
- Milk or cream to make sure it’s dairy-free
- Artificial sweeteners like sucralose and saccharin
- Fructose and high fructose corn syrup
- Other unnecessary additives like “natural” flavors and colors.
You want to avoid low-fat yogurts. As well as missing out on the benefits of fat, these products are often high in sugar. A good coconut yogurt should contain 10-15% fat and less than 2% sugar. Almond yogurts should have at least 6% fat and less than 4% sugar.
Best Yogurts for PCOS
When choosing yogurts. I recommend getting plain unsweetened products. Or ones that are sweetened by something natural like real vanilla beans or cinnamon. These products tend to have the least amount of sugar and other additives. If you want to sweeten it up or flavor it, then that’s completely within your control. You don’t need to rely on the yogurt manufacturer to use the best ingredients.
Here’s my short list of preferred yogurt brands for PCOS:
- US and Canada: The Coconut Cult and Kite Hill Almond Yogurt
- UK: Coconut Collab
- Australia and New Zealand: Coyo
Is Greek Yogurt Good for PCOS?
If you’ve completed a dairy elimination diet and you’re confident that you can tolerate it well, then Greek yogurt is a great food. You just want to pick a “clean” product with only two ingredients. Milk and live active cultures.
Greek yogurt has a better nutritional profile than regular low-fat yogurt. It has more fat and protein, and less sugar.
For people that want to avoid dairy, Kite Hill has a nice Greek-Style alternative yogurt.
The Bottom Line
People with PCOS shouldn’t consume dairy products like yogurt. At least until they’ve completed a dairy-elimination diet. Fortunately, non-dairy yogurts offer similar health benefits without the downsides.
When choosing products avoid yogurts that are low-fat and high in sugar. You also want to avoid artificial sweeteners and other unnecessary ingredients. “Clean” coconut or almond yogurts are a healthy addition to a good PCOS diet.
To see how much better you feel on a dairy-free PCOS diet, join my next free 30-day PCOS Diet Challengefree 3-Day Meal Plan.
Ready to Take Action?
Combining rigorous science and clinical advice with a pragmatic approach to habit change, Kym is on a mission to show other women how to take back control of their health and fertility. Read more about Kym and her team here.
Quick Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links. This means that when you use them to purchase something, it won't cost you more but I may get paid a commission for referring you. In order to avoid any prejudice, I only recommend products that I personally use or would have recommended anyways.
1Buziau, A.M., et al., Total Fermented Dairy Food Intake Is Inversely Associated with Cardiovascular Disease Risk in Women. J Nutr, 2019. 149(10): p. 1797-1804.
2Liu, S., et al., A prospective study of dairy intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Diabetes Care, 2006. 29(7): p. 1579-84.
3Rosenberg, L., et al., A prospective study of yogurt and other dairy consumption in relation to incidence of type 2 diabetes among black women in the USA. Am J Clin Nutr, 2020. 112(3): p. 512-518.
4Salas-Salvadó, J., et al., Yogurt and Diabetes: Overview of Recent Observational Studies. J Nutr, 2017. 147(7): p. 1452s-1461s.
5Wen, L. and A. Duffy, Factors Influencing the Gut Microbiota, Inflammation, and Type 2 Diabetes. J Nutr, 2017. 147(7): p. 1468s-1475s.
6Bordoni, A., et al., Dairy products and inflammation: A review of the clinical evidence. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2017. 57(12): p. 2497-2525.
7Ulven, S.M., et al., Milk and Dairy Product Consumption and Inflammatory Biomarkers: An Updated Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials. Adv Nutr, 2019. 10(suppl_2): p. S239-s250.
8Juhl, C.R., et al., Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Nutrients, 2018. 10(8).
9Dai, R., et al., The effect of milk consumption on acne: a meta-analysis of observational studies. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol, 2018. 32(12): p. 2244-2253.
10Mumme, K. and W. Stonehouse, Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2015. 115(2): p. 249-263.
11St-Onge, M.P. and P.J. Jones, Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity. J Nutr, 2002. 132(3): p. 329-32.