Regularly consuming yoghurt can be highly beneficial to our health by providing a rich source of nutrients such as calcium, B vitamins particularly Riboflavin B2 and protein. Not all yoghurts however are created equally and so knowing which yoghurts are the healthiest is key to prevent a high sugar imposter from entering your shopping trolley.
According to an analysis published recently in the British Medical Journal Open, which investigated the sugar content of more than 900 brands of yoghurt only Less than 10 percent of the yoghurt sold in major supermarkets is low in sugar, meaning it contains less than 5g sugar per 100g. Many yoghurts are packed with sugars, flavours and additives turning them into sugary dessert type foods, a far cry from the health benefits of natural yoghurt.
When it comes to choosing the healthiest options natural and greek yoghurts have the lowest sugar content, averaging 5g per 100g. The sugar content comes from the naturally occurring sugar lactose contained in the yoghurt. A higher sugar content would tend to indicate that additional sugars have been added.
What is the difference between natural and greek yoghurt?
Natural and Greek yogurt is made in the same way however unlike regular natural yoghurt, greek yoghurt is strained which removes the liquid whey and most of the lactose, leaving behind a thicker, creamier textured yogurt.
Nutritional differences between greek vs natural yoghurt
• Greek yogurt has a higher protein content than regular natural yogurt.
• Greek yogurt has a higher fat content than regular yogurt (unless you choose a low fat variety).
• Greek yogurt contains about half the sodium of regular yogurt but also contains less calcium.
• Greek yogurt contains less carbohydrates than natural yogurt (unless it has had added sweeteners).
Flavoured yoghurt and fruit yoghurts (usually the ones specifically marketed to children) often had more than double the sugar content, averaging about 11.5g per 100g between them. Not the ideal choice to be feeding children everyday due to the high sugar content.
Just because a yoghurt may say organic on the label doesn’t automatically make it a healthier choice either. While the O-word leads consumers to perceive these as healthier and lower-calorie, the report found these to have 13g sugar per 100g — the second highest average sugar content after dessert style yoghurts (16g sugar per 100g).
What to look for when choosing yoghurt
Choose natural yoghurt or greek yoghurt with no added sugar, add fruit for natural sweetness
Look for 10 – 15g of protein per serve
Avoid artificial additives such as flavours and colours
Greek yoghurt is a higher protein, low sugar option but also tends to contain more fat and slightly less calcium than regular yoghurt
Coconut yoghurt does not contain the same nutrients as regular yoghurt plus it can be 3 times higher in fat with additional added sugars and thickeners
Yoghurt is a good source of vitamins and nutrients so how much of it should we be eating?
1 small tub of yoghurt or 200g per day is a healthy amount.
Yoghurt is a good source of calcium, B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12 and riboflavin and protein.
200g of greek yoghurt supplies approximately 15g of protein and 220mg calcium. The RDI for calcium is between 1,000mg and 1,300mg per day for adults depending on age.
Yoghurt is more easily digested and absorbed than milk due to ‘partial pre-digestion' by its bacteria. Studies show the protein, fat and lactose it contains are better absorbed and the calcium is more available.