We are a yogurt household. We drink it, eat it, slurp it and devour it…sometimes my kids will eat 2 bowls a day. I never thought to consider its sugar content until recently. Our tiny refrigerator is stocked with yogurt: Stonyfield Fat Free, Chobani, Ronnybrook drinkable yogurt, Trader Joe’s squishers and YoBaby too. We love the drinkable yogurts because they are especially fast, easy and portable. What we didn’t realize is that so many of these prepackaged yogurts are hopped up on sugar.
I started delving into the yogurt and sugar question while reading “What To Eat” by Marion Nestle. Nestle has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the James Beard Foundation (the food world’s highest honor) and she teaches nutrition at NYU. Here is what she says on the subject:
A comparison between yogurts with sugar calories:
“Sugars constitute 55 percent of the 80 calories in Go-Gurt (Yoplait’s “kid-friendly slurpable yogurt in a tube”), 67 percent of the 90 calories in Danimals Drinkable (Danon’s version of kid yogurt) and 68 percent of the 170 calories in Danimals XL. Even in Stonyfield’s YoBaby organic yogurts, marketed for infants and toddlers, 53 percent of the 120 calories come from added sugars. Some of Stonyfield’s yogurts for older kids appear berry-flavored, but they have no fruit at all; their sweetness comes from juice concentrate and sugars, of course, and their color comes from beet juice. Stonyfield may be organic, but it is Big Yogurt: Group Danone (Danon Yogurt) owns 85 percent of the company.
I wanted to take a closer look at some of the yogurts in our refrigerator.
•••••(For calculations: 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon of sugar.) These are all measured in 6 oz servings for our purposes.
Popular Kids’ Yogurts:
YoBaby: YoBaby has 22 grams of sugar. 8 teaspoons of sugar. Not totally surprising, I thought it had a lot of sugar- have you tasted one of these delicious drinks?!
Ronnybrook : I just assumed that Ronnybrook, a smaller dairy farm, relied on the quality of their buttermilk for the great taste. Nope. Ronnybrook has 25 grams of sugar. 6 teaspoons of sugar. Their plain flavor just has 12 grams of sugar.
Trader Joes’ Organic Lowfat Yogurt Squishers: There is no high fructose corn syrup in these so I thought they would fare well. They turned out to be the worst! These have 36 grams of sugar. That’s a whopping 9 teaspoons of sugar!
The Greek yogurts:
Chobani 0% Greek Style Yogurt: Chobani has 19 grams of sugar. That’s just about 5 teaspoons of sugar.
Oikos 0% Greek Yogurt: Part of the Dannon Group that also sells Stonyfield yogurts. 16 grams of sugar. 4 teaspoons of sugar.
Trader Joe’s Greek Style Nonfat Plain Yogurt: 6 grams of sugar. 1.5 teaspoons of sugar. The clear winner in my fridge!
So, what to buy?
- Look for yogurt with as close to 12 grams per 6-oz. serving as possible. (Greek yogurt will have even less!) This is the amount of natural sugar found in yogurt from the lactose.
- Note: if there is fruit added to the yogurt the sugar content will be higher. Look to see where the sugar grams are coming from. For example, real fruit versus refined sugar like high fructose corn syrup.
- Non-fat plain yogurt (Stonyfield Farms)
- Greek yogurt: (Oiko’s, Fage)
- Strained yogurt with the whey removed. Thicker, richer than regular yogurt. Usually higher in protein and lower in sugar. Still look for low fat/fat free versions with little added sugar!
- Skyr: Islandic cultured dairy product. Technically a soft cheese, but is similar to Greek yogurt. Today’s Skyr is made with pasteurized skim milk, rennet, and the same live, active cultures as yogurt, then strained similarly to Greek yogurt
- Kefir: Fermented milk drink that may contain many varied strains of bacteria and yeast. Look for the same label items that you would in yogurt (low fat/fat free, low sugar). If you do not like plain, flavor it up on your own to control amount and type of sugar.
What can you add to make plain yogurt taste better?
- Fruit. I buy frozen organic fruit and then thaw it out in the fridge for the week. The melted juice tastes great in the yogurt too.
- Whole grain cereal- museli is a personal favorite of mine.
- Agave syrup.
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts.
Do you have suggestions for yogurts you like with less sugar or methods of reducing the sugar in your yogurt?