Is Stonyfield yogurt a good probiotic?

Probiotics have become increasingly popular in recent years as more research has demonstrated their potential health benefits. Probiotics are live microorganisms that can provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. Many probiotic foods and supplements contain strains of bacteria that originate in the gut and have been shown to help maintain digestive and immune system health. Yogurt is one of the best-known probiotic foods due to its live and active cultures. Stonyfield Organic is a popular yogurt brand that contains several probiotic strains. But is Stonyfield yogurt truly an effective probiotic option? Here we examine the key factors that determine whether a yogurt is a quality probiotic.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microbes that offer health benefits when consumed. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” The most common types of probiotics are bacteria species that originate in the gut such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Probiotics work by balancing the population of microbes in the digestive system. An imbalance of good and bad bacteria is known as dysbiosis and can contribute to many digestive issues. Probiotics help restore a healthy balance and crowd out potentially harmful microbes. This helps support overall digestive health. Probiotics have also been shown to support the immune system.

Health benefits of probiotics

Research indicates probiotics may help:

  • Treat diarrhea, particularly infections like rotavirus or Clostridium difficile
  • Reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
  • Improve digestive issues like bloating, constipation and gas
  • Enhance immune function and potentially reduce risk of certain illnesses
  • Improve skin conditions like eczema
  • Promote heart health by lowering cholesterol

The strongest evidence exists for the use of probiotics to treat diarrhea, IBS, and urogenital infections like yeast infections. More research is still needed to conclusively prove benefits for other conditions. But probiotics have an excellent safety profile and hold promise for wide-ranging effects on digestion, immunity and overall health.

What makes yogurt a good probiotic?

Yogurt is made by fermenting milk with live cultures of bacteria, mainly the species Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. As these bacteria ferment and break down the lactose in milk, they lower the pH and cause the milk to thicken, resulting in yogurt. Most yogurt also contains additional live probiotic cultures that are added after the initial fermentation process. These include species like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium.

Yogurt offers an excellent source of probiotics because:

  • The live cultures aid digestion of the dairy in yogurt
  • It contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria
  • The nutrients in yogurt help support growth of probiotics
  • The creamy texture makes it an easy, palatable delivery system

Eating yogurt introduces large amounts of beneficial microbes to the digestive tract. For optimal results, experts often recommend choosing yogurt with active or live cultures listed on the label. The National Yogurt Association offers a “Live & Active Cultures” seal for brands that meet this standard.

Factors that make a good probiotic yogurt

To deliver probiotic benefits, experts recommend looking for the following factors when choosing a yogurt:

1. Live cultures

Probiotic yogurt should list the specific live cultures added, like S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. acidophilus or B. bifidum. Products only labeled with “active cultures” may not contain true probiotics.

2. High microbe count

Many brands now list the number of live cultures per serving on the label. Look for at least 1 million CFUs (colony forming units) from probiotic strains. Higher CFU counts indicate more microbes.

3. Multiple strains

Seek brands with multiple probiotic strains, which tend to confer more benefits. At minimum, yogurt should have L. acidophilus.

4. No unnecessary sugar

Added sugars can feed harmful microbes. Choose unsweetened or lightly sweetened yogurt. Greek yogurt tends to have less sugar.

5. Real, natural ingredients

Steer clear of yogurt with artificial additives, sweeteners and flavors, which can diminish probiotic effects.

6. Fridge stable

The refrigerated environment helps maintain live cultures. Proper storage also prevents yeast and mold growth.

7. Within expiration date

The sooner yogurt is eaten after production, the more live cultures it will contain. Always check expiry.

Does Stonyfield yogurt contain probiotics?

Stonyfield Organic is a leading organic yogurt brand. All Stonyfield yogurts state “Made with Live Cultures” on the label and list specific live cultures added after pasteurization. This includes probiotic bacteria strains such as:

  • L. acidophilus
  • Bifidus
  • L. casei
  • L. rhamnosus

Therefore, Stonyfield yogurts do contain multiple probiotic microorganisms. However, the number of cultures can vary across their different yogurt lines.

Stonyfield probiotic culture counts by product:

Yogurt Type Probiotic Strains CFU Count
Whole Milk Yogurt L. acidophilus, Bifidus, L. casei, L. rhamnosus 6 million CFUs
Low Fat Yogurt L. acidophilus, Bifidus, L. casei 6 million CFUs
Non-Fat Yogurt L. acidophilus, Bifidus, L. casei 6 million CFUs
Greek Yogurt L. acidophilus, Bifidus, L. casei 10 million CFUs
Kids Yogurt L. acidophilus, Bifidus 3 million CFUs
Light Yogurt L. acidophilus, Bifidus 6 million CFUs

This analysis shows that most Stonyfield yogurts contain a minimum of 3-6 million CFUs from multiple probiotic strains. Their Greek yogurt has the highest count at 10 million CFUs per serving. While other brands may have higher counts, Stonyfield’s levels still fall within a decent probiotic range.

Pros & cons of Stonyfield yogurt as a probiotic

Here is a summary of the key advantages and disadvantages of Stonyfield yogurt as a probiotic option:


  • Contains multiple validated probiotic strains
  • Minimum of 3-6 million probiotic CFUs
  • Thick, greek-style and grass-fed options have higher cultures
  • No artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup
  • All organic and GMO-free
  • Milk from cows not treated with growth hormones rBST
  • Good refrigerated storage preserves live cultures


  • May have less cultures vs other high potency brands
  • Added sugars in some flavors could theoretically reduce culture counts over time
  • Expensive compared to regular yogurt
  • Contains some additives and natural flavorings in certain products

Overall, Stonyfield delivers a decent dose of probiotic microbes from quality strain sources. While not the highest potency, their counts reach levels shown to provide benefits. The organic production and lack of artificial sweeteners are also big positives. The main drawbacks are the potentially fewer cultures than other potent brands, and higher prices. But for a good probiotic option from a leading yogurt company, Stonyfield remains a solid choice. Those seeking maximum strength probiotic with less additives may want to look at high CFU supplement brands.

Top probiotic foods beyond yogurt

While yogurt makes a convenient probiotic source, many other fermented foods provide live cultures. People wishing to maximize probiotics and diversify gut bacteria may want to include these options:


This cultured milk drink has similar cultures to yogurt but often higher amounts, ranging from 10 to 34 billion CFUs per 6oz serving. It has a thinner consistency and tart flavor.


The fermentation of tea produces this fizzy probiotic drink. It supplies a different set of cultures like Gluconacetobacter that yield benefits.


Made from fermented cabbage and spices, sauerkraut contains probiotics like Lactobacilli and is rich in fiber that feeds gut flora. Kimchi is a similar spicy, fermented cabbage dish.


This protein-packed Indonesian soy product is fermented with cultures that give it a high probiotic count.


This paste made from fermented soybeans contains probiotics and is used to make miso soup, a Japanese staple.


Naturally fermented pickles like real dill pickles harbor probiotics, unlike vinegar-based versions. Look for pickled items kept refrigerated to preserve live cultures.


Aged, fermented cheeses like gouda, cheddar and mozzarella contain some probiotics from their dairy fermentation process. Soft cheeses tend to have more.

Sourdough Bread

Traditional long-fermented sourdough is leavened with lactic acid bacteria that impart probiotic benefits. Most commercial breads lack live cultures.


Authentic buttermilk is the leftover liquid from making butter, allowing natural fermentation by lactic acid bacteria. Commercial varieties are now cultured.


This Japanese dish of fermented soybeans contains an extremely potent probiotic microbe called Bacillus subtilis in high amounts. The taste is an acquired one.

Should you take a probiotic supplement?

In addition to probiotic foods, dietary supplements offer concentrated doses of specific probiotic strains in capsule, powder or liquid form. Supplements may be beneficial for:

  • Replacing a wider range of microbes missing from modern diets
  • Boosting populations enough to treat certain conditions
  • Overcoming food sensitivities that restrict probiotic food intake

However, supplements should complement probiotic foods rather than replace them entirely since whole foods provide supporting prebiotics and nutrients. When choosing a supplement, ensure it provides at least 1 billion CFUs and refrigerate after opening. Probiotic supplements can interact with medications, so consult your healthcare provider before taking them.

While supplements can help, the easiest first step is to add more naturally fermented probiotic foods into your daily diet and continue eating yogurt like Stonyfield. Combining a variety of sources ensures you ingest enough and different types of beneficial microbes to reap the digestive and immune perks of probiotics.

The bottom line

Stonyfield yogurt does contain a number of research-backed probiotic strains like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. While potency levels are not extremely high, they do reach amounts linked to health perks. Given the organic production methods, diverse options, and lack of artificial additives, Stonyfield provides a nutritious probiotic choice over conventional yogurts. Eating it regularly can help populate your gut microbes, support digestion and potentially provide other benefits. However, to maximize probiotic intake it’s ideal to pair yogurt with other high culture foods or targeted supplements. Stonyfield remains a quality option for integrating more probiotics into your diet through an accessible, everyday food.

Leave a Comment