So you’re standing in the supermarket, it’s a bit cold because you’re in the fridge section and you want to move towards the warm bakery section ASAP. Bamboozled by yoghurt choice this post is about to save you some serious chilly time.
Yes we’re talking o’mighty yoghurt, a staple product for any health conscious soul. Yoghurt is a delicious source of protein that is an ideal keep it steady blood sugar snack or breakfast component. Nevertheless, it needs some serious awareness so please read on.
Natural vs. Fruit
For a start, when it comes to sugar content, natural yoghurt comes up trumps over fruit flavoured yoghurts quite easily. Apart from the risk of added colourings and additives to make a strawberry number look baby pink appealing, there’s a marked difference in the range of sugar content:
- Fruit flavour yoghurt: between 6-14g sugar per 100g
- Natural yoghurt: between 4-9g sugar per 100g
Whilst natural is preferable, lets say a fruit flavoured yoghurt slips into the trolley… I’ll turn a blind eye with the hope you’ll change this habit eventually as I know I struggled to pull myself off this one.
For a start, don’t be fooled by the low fat label because sugar is essentially metabolised like fat. So if you’re deliberating between the 1% or 2% fat, save time and thinking space by putting your focus on sugar content.
My advice if you really want a low sugar healthy(ish) fruit flavoured yoghurt is aim for 6-7g per 100g or around 8-9g a pot serving. Most of the yoghurts are labelled well so you can compare these amounts but if you can’t be bothered I found Weight Watchers Summer Fruits come in well with 8g a pot.
You also need to consider serving size because individual pots of fruit flavoured yoghurts are larger and often come in 150g portion sizes, but again can also vary. Activia Snack Pots are quite high in sugar at around 16g depending on the flavour. The worst one If found was Onken Vanilla 0% ‘fat free’, which racks up an impressive 21.2g of sugar per 150g portion. This is a whopping 5.3 teaspoons and it’s under the perception that you’re being healthy with 0% fat! Jeez. This is what you need to look out for people. Not to mention with those large tubs, portion control is even harder (just one more spoonful…). Eat a double portion by accident an your up to 44.4g of sugar! Ouch.
Move onto natural unflavoured yoghurts and you’re on a better track. Fresh fruit to sweeten is always going to be better than unnatural flavours and in fact the skin and fibre of solid fruit takes a little longer to digest so is released slower into your bloodstream. Think a tough Granny Smith skin.
The majority, if not all of the sugars in natural yoghurts are more than likely going to be from the natural lactose as I described in my post about how much sugar there is in milk. Checking the ingredients will confirm this.
The lowest sugar natural variety I’ve discovered in the past few years, and now features in my weekly shop is Total Greek yoghurt at 4g sugar per 100g. Tesco 0% Greek yoghurt also comes in at 4.2g, which is not bad for a supermarket brand. Others start to sneak up where it’s likely these ‘natural’ yoghurts may have added sugar on top of the natural lactose. Some can contain as much as 8.5g per 100g – meaning they’re almost on par with their fruity friends. Unfortunately with yoghurts, you can’t tell which proportion of sugar is natural and which isn’t – so just check the ingredients which should give a rough indication i.e. is any other sugar listed.
Look for Protein
Another healthy thing to look for in yoghurt is protein content, because this ultimately will keep you feeling fuller for longer and release more steadily into the bloodstream, reducing the insulin spike you might get. Again, Total Greek is top with 10.3g per 100g. Reviewing other varieties for protein, they seem to average around 7-8g, the worst going down to 5g. High protein yoghurt keeps hunger locked up till lunch better than Shreddies I promise!
Low Fat vs. Full Fat
Assuming we’ve sussed the sugar out, what are the guidelines on low fat vs. full fat? This is most likely going to come down to your own personal taste, preference and calorie requirements. You may choose a lower fat because these are lower in calories and you may be watching fat/calories to manage weight etc.
If so, it’s important to take note that a full fat yoghurt is a not a completely evil source of fat in your diet and you may find it may fills you for longer and is more satisfying than a low fat one, thus could mean you eat less calories later.
In my opinion low fat vs. full fat comes down to personal preference, what do you like the taste of? How often are you eating it? Etc.
When I was really hooked on sugar I was following a classic low fat diet in every sense and on many occasions a low fat but full of sugar yoghurt was my ‘healthy’ treat. The 0% seemed to make it justifiable, but I would have been better with a creamer less sweet one to steady the blood sugar and keep my sugar habit from worsening (which it did).
I tend still to go for 0% Total Greek yoghurt, mainly because I do really like the taste, texture and I eat a lot of it, but I’m now not as wary to occasionally trying out a 2% or 10% variety. It also depends on what other foods you are eating; so I get a lot of good fat already from nuts, seeds and oily fish, thus I don’t want to go overboard. If you don’t eat much of these however, then getting some good fat from yoghurt or full fat milk might not be a bad shout (and it’s tasty!).
In summary, the moral of the yoghurt story is keep your eye firmly on sugar, a little on protein and don’t be scared off by fat. I’ll admit, I’ve spent a bit too long in the cold fridge section over the past few years and like the fact I can now whiz in, grab and go without any hassle.
Unfortunately a lot of the yoghurts on the shelves at the moment are not good when it comes to sugar. All we can hope is that if consumers stop buying the sugary ones, then manufacturers will start making an effort to cut sugar and use more natural healthier sweeteners to bring us a wider choice of sugar savvy yoghurts.
Any yoghurt you particularly like or would recommend? Do you eat flavoured yoghurts as a healthy choice? Please share your thoughts or share this article if it’s been useful!