If you haven’t watched That Sugar Film it’s certainly worth the effort as it highlights exactly how much sugar is in seemingly “healthy” foods such as flavoured yoghurt, juices, cereals and sauces.
A new investigation has been launched into more than 260 different yoghurt choices in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets being marketed as healthy, low-fat, diet, no sugar, high in probiotics, the list goes on.
Are yoghurts really a healthy choice or are they just desserts in disguise?
Firstly, there is no such thing as “no sugar” yoghurt as all yoghurt naturally contains lactose, the sugar found in dairy. There are around six grams of lactose per 100g, so the extra sugar is added sugar, and it’s the added sugar we are most concerned about. And the amount of added sugar in flavoured yoghurts topped at 4.7 teaspoons of sugar per 100g in Gippsland Dairy’s Choc Cherry Twist, but averaged three teaspoons (12 grams) per 100g in 55% of yoghurts on the market. As a comparison, a half cup (one serve) of vanilla ice cream contains 14g of sugar.
How much is too much?
The World Health Organisation recommends that no more than 10% of a person’s daily energy intake should come from added sugars. In real terms, this is 52 grams or 13 teaspoons of added sugar.
If we are consuming one of the common yoghurts on the market, we are getting nearly one third of our daily added sugar intake from just 100g of yoghurt.
This, of course, does not take into account the other sources of added sugar such as cereals, juices, sauces, biscuits and other “treat” foods.
What does all the marketing mean?
The label “low fat” means high in sugar to improve flavour; “diet” means that artificial sweeteners have been used to get the added sugar content down. Probiotics are great but it’s always a good idea to check the added sugar content of a yoghurt that is marketed as being high in probiotics. If it is high in sugar it is best to get your daily probiotics from a supplement or other food source such as kombucha or sauerkraut.
So if it’s best to avoid all of these yoghurts, which ones can we eat?
Plain natural yoghurts are the healthiest. On average, they contain just under one teaspoon of sugar per 100g. Plain natural Greek yoghurt is also good, the way Greek yoghurt is produced makes them creamy, however, it can lead to a lower calcium content. If you don’t like the taste, here are some suggestions to improve the taste without the added sugar:
- Add fresh or frozen fruit, chia seeds, nuts and/or seeds – berry/nut crunch
- Add coconut flakes eg. mango/coconut or coconut, dried cranberries or goji berries and nuts
- Add nutmeg or cinnamon eg. grated apple with cinnamon
- Add cacao eg. choc berry – a sprinkle of cacao with berries or choc orange – orange zest with cacao
- Pine passion – fresh pineapple with fresh passionfruit pulp