Although a health food, some yoghurts actually contain more sugar that chocolate. Here, Dietitian Melissa Meier reveals which ones you should be stocking your fridge with.
You’ve probably been told that yoghurt is a healthy go-to when the 3pm munchies strike. And while in many cases that is true, some varieties are packed with added sugar and are more like a decadent dessert than a healthy bite to eat.
To help you make a smart choice next time you find yourself staring into the yoghurt cabinet, here’s my guide to yoghurt.
Is yoghurt actually healthy?
Plain, natural yoghurt is certainly a healthy choice. It’s naturally rich in calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth. In fact, just one small tub of yoghurt (about 170 grams) packs roughly one third of your daily calcium needs.
You might be surprised to learn that yoghurt is a good source of protein, too, with around ten grams per serve. On top of that, you’re in for all of the natural goodness dairy offers, including potassium for heart and muscle function, vitamin A for healthy eyes and Vitamin B12 to support health blood. So far, so good, right?
The problem with yoghurt is when it comes packed with added sugar. You won’t usually find added sugar in plain, natural yoghurt – the sugar you see on the nutrition information panel of these products is simply the natural sugar called lactose that all dairy foods contain (and FYI there is absolutely nothing wrong with this type of sugar!).
Where you will find added sugar is in flavoured yoghurt. So, I recommend buying plain yoghurt and adding your own fresh fruit if you’re in need of some sweetness.
The fat content is another interesting point of contention. In the past, reduced-fat dairy has been recommended, but new research has shown that for otherwise healthy people (read: those without heart disease or diabetes), full-fat dairy is a-okay in the context of a healthy diet. Nonetheless, reduced-fat dairy is still much lower in kilojoules, so if weight loss is on your radar, a reduced-fat yoghurt could still be a smarter choice.
And what about the newer, trendier coconut- and almond-based yoghurts, I hear you ask? Unfortunately, these products don’t tend to live up to their health halo.
They are usually much lower in protein, and don’t come with all-important calcium, unless fortified. Plus, coconut products are very high in saturated fat, which isn’t good news for your ticker.
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The healthiest yoghurts on the Australian market, ranked
1. Siggi’s 0.5 per cent Plain
Per 100g: 266kJ (64cal), 10.1g protein, 0.2g sat fat, 3.6g sugar, 303mg calcium
2. Farmers Union Greek Style High in Protein
Per 100g: 254kJ (61cal), 8.1g protein, 0.1g sat fat, 5.2g sugar, 262mg calcium
3. Tamar Valley Dairy Natural 99.85 per cent Fat Free Yoghurt
Per 100g: 231kJ (55cal), 6.6g protein,
4. Jalna High Protein Yoghurt Natural
Per 100g: 282kJ (67cal), 9g protein, 0.1g sat fat, 5.5g sugar, 170mg calcium
5. Woolworths Natural 99 per cent Fat Free Greek Style Yoghurt
Per 100g: 240kJ (57cal), 6.1g protein,
6. Yoplait Yoplus Natural
Per 100g: 295kJ (71cal), 5.5g protein, 1.2g sat fat, 7.7g sugar, 194mg calcium
7. Paul’s All Natural Yoghurt Tub Set
Per 100g: 347kJ (83cal), 5.4g protein, 2g sat fat, 6.7g sugar, 195mg calcium
8. Brooklea Natural Pot Set Yoghurt
Per 100g: 223kJ (53cal), 5.3g protein, 0.1g sat fat, 5.7g sugar, 172mg calcium
9. Chobani Plain Greek Yoghurt
Per 100g: 244kJ (58cal), 9.7g protein, 0.1g sat fat, 3.3g sugar, 120mg calcium
10. Vaalia Natural Yoghurt
Per 100g: 348kJ (83cal), 6g protein, 1.2g sat fat, 7.4g sugar, 200mg calcium
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram.