Understanding the Content of Your Favorite Yogurt

Understanding the Content of Your Favorite Yogurt

We all know we love our yogurt. It has been a part of our everyday breakfast, lunch, and for sure, a snack choice for some time. Today, yogurt comes in such a variety of flavors, and forms, that we have many, many choices available to us.

From a health standpoint, yogurt provides live, active bacteria cultures. These cultures, or probiotics, are considered “good bacteria” for the gastrointestinal tract, and can help maintain healthy digestive systems.

Types of Yogurt

Today, the average shopper will be confronted by a wide variety of yogurt choices at the supermarket. There are low fat, fat free, fruited, plain, Greek, and yogurts with many different additions, such as, granola, dried fruits, and even pieces of candy.

But when the yogurt products are all lined up on the shelf, it will come back to you to make that ultimate choice for texture, consistency, flavor, and thickness, and if, you want fruit, on the bottom, mixed in, or not at all. Most of us, choose some variety of fruit, and then we need to decide, how many other ingredients we want to add.

For dietitians and nutritionists, we have the unique position of analyzing food products for their relative worth and for any possible concerns we may have for the “nutrient base” of foods eaten. Yogurt has the ability to be a part of every meal’s choice.

Protein in Yogurt

As a versatile product, you can count on yogurt to last you about 2-3 hours as a part of your energy base. It is not as “productive” as a full sandwich would be, but it is a good base for other things you will be choosing to eat. For example, yogurt can be put together with cheese, crackers, and/or vegetables, fruit, and other items for a longer-lasting meal that is fiber-rich as well. It generally contains 6-14g or more of protein, which is actually very equivalent to that of a full sandwich, with 7g protein being equal to 1-oz lean meat.

Sugar in Yogurt

But, when it comes to the “sugar” content, there are several things you need to think about. If you have been reading food labels for awhile, you will notice that product labels will list sugar, even though no sugar has been added? This is because all yogurt products will contain lactose, the naturally occurring sugar in milk. In addition, the fruit added to yogurt will also add to the sugar content, but as fruit sugar, or fructose. All a little cumbersome to figure out, but each having its own source of sweetness. It can be milk, it can be fruit, or it may be additional added sugar.

Food Labeling and Nutrition Information

In 2016, the FDA announced that the current food labels are being updated. The new labels will make it easier for consumers to know the added sugars in packaged foods. Consumers will want to continue to eat yogurt for sure! But being able to see how much sugar is in container would be very helpful. I foresee a product label for yogurt looking like this:

  • Protein – 7g
  • Fat – 1g
  • Carbohydrate – 25g
  • Fiber – 4g
  • Natural sugars as Milk- 5g, or Fruit – 3g
  • Added sugar as Cane Sugar, 17g

All in all, it is very important to continue to understand the food you are eating, inside and out.

Rita Larsen Registered Dietitian at Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Rita Larsen, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition Educator & Diet Counselor

Rita is certified in Positive Psychology, University of Penn; has a BS in Dietetics from Kansas State University; and an Internship and Masters at the Indiana University Medical Center.

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