Choosing Yoghurt

The hype of added sugars and the increasing varieties of yoghurt on supermarket shelves can make shopping a daunting mission. Which types of yoghurts are the ‘healthy’ ones?

Popular yoghurts such as Chobani and Vaalia have been recognised as the ‘healthy’ ones but how about the other types? There are several types of yoghurt to choose from. Some of these include:

  • Traditional

  • Greek

  • Low-fat natural

  • Low-fat diet

  • Low-fat flavoured

  • Live bacteria

  • Lactose-free

  • Soy

  • Almond

  • Coconut

This can cause confusion as to which brands or types of yoghurts are the best as part of a healthy diet. The easiest way to choose yoghurt is to follow the nutrient criteria.

The best options are those that contain the following nutrient criteria in 100g of yoghurt.

Nutrient Criteria per 100g or ml of yoghurt

Energy ≤ 400 kJ

Total Fat ≤ 2g

Calcium ≥ 100mg

Where:

≤ is less than or equal to

≥ is more than or equal to

Calcium is required for bone and dental health as such it is important to have at least 100 milligrams (mg) of calcium in 100 grams (g) of yoghurt.

Some flavoured yoghurts that contain added sugars are still considered nourishing snacks. Reading the ingredient list can help identify if there are added sugars and if they are still a good choice. Ingredients are listed by weight in descending order. Hence the first ingredient on the list would be the most in the food and as we look down the list the weight of the ingredients decreases. For example,

Yoghurt X (Flavoured Yoghurt)

Ingredients:

Milk, Sugar, Milk Solids, Blended Fruit (10%) [Boysenberries (30%), Sugar, Water, Boysenberry Juice Reconstituted (10%), Thickeners (1442, 407, 412), Natural Flavours, Natural Colour (Purple Carrot Concentrate), Acidity Regulator (331)], Yogurt Cultures

Sugar is the second and part of the fourth ingredient in yoghurt X. This shows that there is a considerable amount of added sugar in this yoghurt.

Yoghurt Y (Flavoured Yoghurt)

Ingredients:

Milk, Milk Solids, Skim Milk, Sugar, Strawberries (Min. 6%), Thickeners (Modified Starch, Carrageenan), HALAL Gelatine, Natural Flavours, Acidity Regulators (Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid), Firming Agent (Calcium Chloride), Natural Colour (Carmine), Preservative (Potassium Sorbate), Yoghurt Cultures: (S. Thermophilus & L. Bulgaricus).

Sugar is the fouth ingredient in this yoghurt. There is not as much added sugar in yoghurt Y as there is in yoghurt X. This would be the better option if you are concerned about consuming added sugars in yoghurt.

Diet yoghurts contain artificial sweeteners and natural sugars. Hence the nutrition information panel will still reflect sugars even though sugar is not listed as an ingredient on the list.

It is far less detrimental for a person with reasonably nutritious dietary habits to consume yoghurts that contain added sugars than drinking or eating fruit juices and muesli bars, respectively, that contain added sugars.

Revised: The heart foundation recommends reduced fat yoghurts as a preferred option for individuals with elevated cholesterol and/or who have coronary heart disease.

Yoghurt containing live bacteria such as lactobacillus, bifidus and casei cultures may promote good gut health. This is a topic of discussion on its own and hence has not been included in this blog post.

Revised: Natural yoghurts are excellent alternatives for cream or sour cream in cooking and desserts.

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