Yogurt can be a healthy and portable snack for those who are on the go, but new research suggests that the dairy-based product has deceptively high levels of sugar.
Researchers of BMJ Open analyzed more than 900 yogurt brands found in UK supermarkets and concluded that less than 10 percent contained less than five grams of sugar per 100 grams, while just two percent of children’s yogurts are low in sugar.
“Everyone thinks yogurt is a healthy food,” study author Bernadette Moore, a professor at the University of Leeds, tells The New York Post. Yogurt without all the additives is full of calcium and protein. Most yogurts are naturally sweetened from their milk. The problem is that too many companies go overboard with adding sugar.
Moore’s research included several popular U.S. brands, including Dannon, Fage, and Yoplait. Her team divided the yogurt samples into eight groups: children’s, dairy alternatives (e.g. soy), desserts, drinks, flavored, fruit, natural/Greek, and organic.
The study also warned of the misconception that organic products are healthier, despite this category of yogurt containing the most sugar.
Organic yogurts contained an average of 13.1 grams of sugar per 100 grams, which is equivalent of 3 tablespoons, while children’s yogurts averaged 10.8 grams. Greek and low-fat yogurts were the least sugary with an average of 5 grams per 100 grams.
“Dessert” yogurts contained the most sugar, with an average of 16.4 grams per 100 grams.
“While yogurt may be less of a concern than soft drinks and fruit juices, the chief sources of free sugars in both children and adult's diets, what is worrisome is that yogurt, as a perceived 'healthy food', may be an unrecognized source of free/added sugars," the authors wrote.
Moore says that people and parents should be more mindful of reading the labels. “Look at the ingredients. It should basically be [just] milk and culture,” she tells The New York Post.
A healthy lifestyle can still be managed with eating yogurt because of the amount of protein it contains.
Instead of buying fruit-flavored yogurt, Greek or plain yogurt with natural sweeteners like honey and fruits are the way to go because you won’t be compromising your health and can still enjoy a healthy treat for breakfast or lunch.