If you walked into the kitchen in the morning and started scooping yourself a bowl of ice cream, your family members would look at you like you’re crazy. But opening a container of Yoplait? That would be totally normal.
What if I told you the two were about the same? Or that the Yoplait is nutritionally worse than ice cream. It’s true! (Depending on the ice cream brand & flavor)
Though the yogurt aisle at the store seems to get bigger and bigger, many of the choices offered are more like junk food than real, healthy, yogurt. Many of them are packed with excess sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweetener, artificial coloring and flavoring, modified food starch, and other additives…so that there isn’t much “yogurt” in them at all. Here are some of the worst offenders:
Lactic acid esters of mono and di-glycerides? Nitrogen? This is food?!
Blue #1 and Red #40, which have been proven to increase hyperactivity in some children? No thanks.
That’s an awful lot of sugar for only 6 oz of yogurt.
There are tons of weird things in this ingredients list, but the creepiest is the Carmine, which is made like this: “the powdered scale insect bodies are boiled in ammonia or a sodium carbonate solution, the insoluble matter is removed by filtering, and alum is added to the clear salt solution of carminic acid to precipitate the red aluminium salt, called “carmine lake.” (Source: Wikipedia).
How can you tell which yogurt is really healthy?
Look for short ingredients lists. Milk and live active cultures are really all you need to make yogurt. Pectin – which is harmless – is also often added for thickness and texture. Some brands I like and recommend:
- Stonyfield Organic – choose plain or plain Oikos (Greek) & stir in 1 tsp honey or jam if you want sweetness
- Clover Organic – their plain is healthiest, but the Cream Top flavors are a delicious treat
- Mountain High — choose plain low-fat, nonfat, or whole
- Straus Family Creamery European Style – choose plain nonfat or plain whole
- Brown Cow – choose plain low-fat or plain whole
- Siggi’s — (Icelandic “skyr” which is even thicker than Greek) – all their flavors are low in sugar
- Fage – Greek yogurt: plain 0% or plain 2% are the best choices
- Chobani – Greek yogurt: plain is the best choice. Their flavored kinds are high in sugar
If you like sweet yogurt, sweeten plain yogurts with 1 teaspoon of honey or jam. If you must buy flavored, look for brands that meet the following criteria:
- 130 or less calories per 6 oz
- 20g sugar or less per 6 oz (16g or less for Greek yogurt, which has less milk sugar/lactose)
- At least 6g protein per 6 oz
- At least 25% of the Daily Value for Calcium
These criteria will ensure that your yogurt is more nutritious. Just keep in mind that pre-sweetened yogurt does add “empty” calories so you have to account for those in your diet.
Here are more yogurt recommendations.