What are "live active cultures" in yogurt?

Samantha Heller, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Live active cultures are the good bacteria, or probiotics, in yogurt that keep your immune system working properly. But not all types of yogurt are good sources of live active cultures, says registered dietitian Samantha Heller. To find out what kind of yogurt has the most probiotics, watch this video.

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

Although the aim of pasteurization is to kill any harmful bacteria, it also kills the beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the yogurt, substantially reducing its health benefits. Therefore, to fully enjoy the benefits of yogurt, look for those that feature "live active cultures" or "living yogurt cultures" on the label. Yogurts with live active cultures can be identified by the National Yogurt Association's (NYA) "Live and Active Culture" seal. To meet the NYA criteria, live and active culture yogurt must satisfy all of these requirements:

  • The product must be fermented with both L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus.
  • For refrigerated yogurt, the total viable count at the time of manufacture must be 108 CFU (colony forming units) per gram. In the case of frozen yogurt, the total viable count at the time of manufacture must be 107 CFU per gram.
  • The cultures must still be active at the end of the stated shelf life, as determined by the activity test.
  • In the case of frozen yogurt, the product shall have a total titratable acidity expressed as lactic acid of at least 0.3 percent at all times.
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d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.