01.Healthy yoghurt or nutrition trap?
Yoghurt (also spelled "yogurt") is often marketed as a healthy, calcium-rich product. Yet some of the products in the supermarket fridge are closer
to a “dairy-based dessert” than a health food. CHOICE
decided to look behind the hype and find out how to pick
the nutritious yoghurts from the products that should ring alarm bells.
At its simplest, yoghurt contains milk and live cultures (bacteria)
that cause the milk to ferment, creating the distinctive sour taste.
But modern commercial yoghurts tend to have extra ingredients
such as sugar, cream, thickeners, gums, starches and flavours.
Low- or no-fat natural yoghurt: your healthiest option
“The healthiest yoghurt choice is low- or no-fat plain
yoghurt,” says Kate Gudorf an accredited practising dietitian
and spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia.
“But if you need to sweeten it yourself, add a teaspoon of honey
or chopped fresh fruit.”
If you’re buying flavoured yoghurt, Gudorf recommends
trying to find one with less than 12g of sugars per 100g.
Natural or plain yoghurt has around 6mg of sugars per 100g
due to the naturally occurring carbohydrate
lactose. Anything above 6mg will be added
sugar, generally in the form of fruit pieces,
fruit puree, honey and sugar.
And if you’re in the mood for a treat,
sweetened low-fat yoghurts will generally be
a better choice than a chocolate bar as they
have lower saturated fat (0.2g vs 18.8g/100g)
and far less sugar (12.6g vs 56.4g/100g).
Beware breakfast yoghurts
Packaged breakfast yoghurt pots with muesli are
an easy option, but the convenience can come at
the cost of huge sugar levels.
Bulla Yoghurt Crunch Summer Berry
contains yoghurt and muesli, and comes with
a little spoon so it can be eaten on the go. The pack
only lists the nutritional information
per 100g serve – a deceptively low 594kJ
– but the small print shows there are
actually 2.25 serves in the pot.
If you can
be bothered doing the numbers in the
supermarket, you’d find that the 225g pot actually has a hefty 1339kJ and 42g of
sugars (more than eight teaspoons). And
really, who’s going to divide a pot smaller
than a metric cup into 2.25 serves?
The whole Bulla pot has about the
same number of kilojoules as an Almond
Magnum ice-cream, but three more
teaspoons of sugar. However, it does
at least come with 455mg calcium.
That said, two cups of
skim milk will give you
605mg calcium for only
735kJ and 25g sugars.
Slightly less sugar laden is
the Ski Double Up Yoghurt,
with 983kJ and 25.6g sugar
per pot. Vaalia Breakfast To Go is a marginally
better choice with 825kJ
and 20g sugar per pot.
Both sensibly treat one pot
as one serve.
The passion for all things coconut has spread to the
yoghurt aisle with Alpine Coconut Yoghurt. Just like
coconut oil, coconut milk
yoghurt is a high-kilojoule,
high-fat, low-calcium choice.
Compared to full-fat milk-based
yoghurts it has double
the kilojoules, with 785kJ per
100g and a whopping 11.5g
of saturated fat – three times more
than the full-fat yoghurt we looked at.
Coconut milk has about 4mg calcium
per 100g (compared with 193mg for
regular yoghurt), and there’s no calcium
listed on the package so we assume no
extra calcium has been added.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
says a serve of yoghurt is ¾ cup or 200g.
If you want a yoghurt
to eat on the go, look
for a pot that is 200g
or less. Buying an
individual serve pot
as big as the 300g
Twist will mean you’ll
be scoffing down 50.7g
sugars (10 teaspoons)
and 1833kJ. Look for
snack with no more
Calcium is a major health
drawcard, but we found
wide variations in
calcium levels – from
about 98mg per 100g (Chobani)
to 206mg (Bornhoffen). “This
comes down to the difference in
says Gudorf, “as some
manufacturers add extra
milk solids, which add
calcium. Others, such as
strained Greek yoghurt,
remove liquid whey, which
reduces calcium levels.”
Although yoghurts can be a good
source of calcium, it’s unlikely to meet
your total daily requirement. It’s
recommended that adults consume
For children, the
• 1-3 years 500mg calcium;
• 4-8 years 700mg;
• 9-11 years 1000mg.
Although the “squeezy” yoghurt
pouches for babies and kids are all the rage
and look very similar in size and design
with similar sugar levels, there is a big
difference in calcium levels.
Mini MacroOrganic yoghurts don’t even list calcium
content on their pack. Other products
range from 132mg per 100g (Gippsland Mini Organics), 168mg (Paul’s Dora) and
220mg (Coles) to a healthy 350mg for the
Yoplait Petit Miam pouch.
Be aware when choosing kids' yoghurt that
sugary dessert products can
appear on the shelves alongside
healthier offerings. We found
YoGo Mix Choc Chips,
which doesn’t contain any
yoghurt but has 1090kJ and
29.9g sugar per 150g pot, in
the same section as the 140g
Vaalia Kids Strawberry Yoghurt
As most products aimed at
kids have classic pester-power
characteristics – bright
packaging splashed with
recognisable cartoon characters
or cutesy images – it’s very easy
for any harried parent to grab
a package your child likes the
look of without checking the
ingredients and sugar levels.
A product that has the word “dessert” on
the packaging should ring alarm bells.