Flavored Yogurt: Sweet as Candy

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yogurtFirst let’s get some perspective.

A Snickers bar has 30 grams of sugar. Two Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (1 package) have 21g of sugar. Two Frosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts – 32g. One cup of Froot Loops with ½ cup of skim milk – 18g.

Stonyfield Low-Fat Smooth and Creamy Banilla (that’s banana vanilla) yogurt has 35g of sugar per serving. Chobani 0% Black Cherry has 21g of sugar. Yoplait Original (you know, with the foil top) Pina Colada – 27g… and the list goes on. And then you add granola!

The point I’m trying to make, as you can see, is that many varieties of yogurt marketed as healthy breakfast or snack foods have as much sugar per serving as some of our most popular candies and notoriously unhealthy breakfast competitors. 

To be fair, 100% of the sugar in a candy bar is coming from added sugar (usually sucrose), while a portion of the sugar in yogurt (7-15g, on average) is coming from the naturally present milk sugar lactose, plus a bit from whatever fruit is included. (NOTE: The amount of lactose present will typically increase as you go from full to non-fat and from Greek to traditional varieties.)

The Nutrition Facts table doesn’t allow us to differentiate between natural and added sugars, but if we look at the completely plain (no added sugar) version of a given brand, we can tell how many grams of sugar are present naturally as lactose. With 15g of sugar in Plain Stonyfield Low-Fat Smooth and Creamy, we can infer that 20g are coming from added sugar and banana puree in the “Banilla” flavor mentioned above.

But how much banana do we really think is present in 6oz of “Banilla” yogurt? Even in the simplest, and often perceived as healthiest, varieties such as those touting” Fruit on the Bottom,” the second ingredient after milk (before fruit) will inevitably be sugar. By law, this means that there are more grams of sugar in the food than grams of fruit! Given that a six-inch banana weighs about 100g, that doesn’t equate to very much fruit!

On that note, how can we make our yogurt meals healthier? Simple! Choose completely plain yogurt. I recommend low-fat, not non-fat. One ingredient is all you need – cultured milk. It should say “contains live active cultures.” Then add your own fruit… ON TOP! Half a cup of sliced strawberries has 4g of sugar and 1.5g of fiber. Toss in some chopped walnuts or pecans for a crunch. The extra protein and healthy fat will help control your blood sugar and keep you feeling energized through the morning.

Got questions about your yogurt choices? Post them in the comments

 

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March 2013
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