Your ‘Healthy’ Yogurt Might Be Full of Sugar

If you eat a lot of sweetened yogurt in search of a healthy diet, you may want to check that label more carefully.

According to a study published in the BMJ Open this month, researchers in the United Kingdom found that the average sugar content in yogurt exceeded the low sugar threshold according to European Union regulations.

Data from five online supermarkets in the United Kingdom were classified into eight types of yogurt: for children, dairy, desserts, drinks, fruit, flavored, natural / Greek style and organic.

About 900 yogurts were analyzed.

In particular, natural / Greek yogurts had a significantly lower sugar content than yoghurts in all other categories.

Jessica Bennett, RD, clinical dietitian at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, said many yogurts have enough added sugar so they can serve as a sweet after dinner.

“Many yogurts are high in sugar and sometimes disguised as healthy foods, but are more like a dessert, especially those with” added fruit “or ingredients,” said Bennett. “I like that the study has analyzed 900 yogurts and different varieties, flat vs. organic, etc.”

Bennet noted that for US consumers. UU., It is not clear how these results are developed in the national grocery stores.

“A potential problem is how this study translates to the US, since it was done in the US And manufacturing may be different,” he said.

Bennett said the results are not surprising and that more sugar or salt is often added to low-fat or high-calorie products to improve flavor.

“Most people consume fruit-flavored yogurts, which can actually increase the sugar not only of the fruit, where the natural sugar is found, but also of the added sugar to make the product taste good,” he said.

“Especially with children and squeezed yogurts, it’s more like a drink, and they may not fill up with just one and end up eating several, or families may feel that yogurt is healthier than a chocolate bar, so it’s okay to eat more. ”

Tips to avoid the sugar rush

Bennett said one way to avoid sugar in yogurt is to buy natural yogurt and then add your own fruit.

“In this way, you get more fiber and you know that the real fruit is also entering, without the added sugar in the manufacturing,” he said. “If children are picky with texture, a blender or immersion blender works very well.”

She said adding cinnamon is another alternative to give some flavor to yogurt. In addition, Bennett said, it has been thought that cinnamon helps lower blood sugar as well as inflammation, although more studies are required.

Also, he said, most yogurts can be frozen to encourage children to eat them more slowly.

Amy Jamieson-Petonic, an outpatient clinical dietitian at University Hospitals in Ohio, said she asks her customers to eat yogurt that contains less than 15 grams of total carbohydrates per 8-ounce serving.

“This will allow them to enjoy a product with a little sweetness, but without too much added sugar,” said Jamieson-Petonic.

“I really like Greek yogurt, because it tends to be more protein-rich, and if you choose an option with less sugar, it can really help people make better decisions and also increase satiety.”

What to look for on the nutrition label

Carol Aguirre, a registered dietitian at Nutrition Connections in Florida, said there are some red sugar banners added to watch for when reading ingredient lists, which include:

Nectar of agave
barley malt
beet sugar
sugar brown rice
butter syrup
cane juice
coconut sugar
corn sweetener
sugar date
ethyl maltol
malt syrup

“The milk used to make yogurt contains natural sugar called lactose, which is considered a nutritious part of your daily diet when consumed in moderation,” said Aguirre.

“Because it is a natural sugar, lactose is not refined or processed as the added sugars are, most yogurts, however, contain added sugar.”

Joanna Gallo Moreno, RD, a certified diabetes educator at the Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center in Hoag, California, said: “The results of this study are a great start to get attention … the excessive consumption of sugar and the awareness of the fact that even products may have a high sugar content “.

Moreno said it is a good idea to limit both “added sugar” and “total sugar” consumed.

“Avoid artificial sweeteners, food colors and unnecessary chemicals, such as aspartame, sucralose, saccharin and some types of sugar alcohols,” said Moreno. “Often, the versions with fewer calories, with less fat or with less sugar contain ingredients that can have side effects for health, and it is better to avoid them.”

Moreno advises looking for low glycemic index sweeteners such as:

chicory root
coconut sugar
monk fruit
raw honey
yacon syrup

Another option is to try a low-sugar natural yogurt with a choice of nuts or seeds.

“The fat content can also vary in yogurt products, and although added fat can contribute to the intake of excess calories, added sugar is a major concern,” said Moreno.

“I feel that yogurt can be part of a healthy diet for some people in the right amounts and varieties.”


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