Your 'Healthy' Yogurt Might Actually Be a Sugar Bomb

Yogurt is packed with protein and nutrients, but hidden sugars may also be lurking inside.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal examined the amount of sugar in many commercially available yogurts and found most store brands to be packed with sugar. Researchers at the University of Leeds and the University of Surrey in 2016 looked at approximately 900 individual yogurt products available in five major UK supermarkets. Each yogurt was then sorted into eight different categories, and compared: children’s, dairy alternatives, dessert, drinks, flavored, fruit, natural/Greek, and organic. The authors of the study calculated and compared the mean amount of sugar per 100 grams (Metric System) for each category of yogurt. The results revealed that dessert yogurts had the highest amount of sugar with 16.4 grams, which isn’t very surprising. However, the runner-up with 13.1 grams of sugar was shockingly organic yogurt. Yogurt marketed toward children followed next containing 10.8 grams. Overall, fewer than one in ten of all the yogurts qualified as low-sugar. Natural/Greek yogurt was the only category appreciably different than the rest because of its median sugar content of 5 grams, as well as a higher median protein content. It’s important to keep in mind that the recommended daily allowance of sugar is 25 grams for women, 36 grams for men, and less than 25 grams for children.

This information is significant when considering the obesity is on the rise around the world. Dr. J. Bernadette Moore, a nutrition scientist and lead author of the study, stated to ABC News, “I did not know that the yogurt I was giving my child had [so much] added sugar in it.” Other studies have pointed out a tendency for people to believe products labeled “organic” are inherently healthier. Moore advocates for more transparent food labeling, so consumers won’t assume a product to be healthy with a simple glance. She points out: “If you are a parent and you are choosing between a Coca-Cola, a chocolate biscuit [cookie]…or a sweetened yogurt, then, by all means, give your child the yogurt -- you’ll get some calcium, you’ll get some protein, and you may get some probiotic.” Yogurt also has nutritional benefits associated with lower risks of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The key takeaway is to continue to eat yogurt but make a wise choice on which type. Greek or homemade yogurt is the best option - as long as you don’t load it with toppings like honey and jam, which could add way more sugar than necessary.

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