Product Review: Yoghurt

So, you have decided that your family should eat healthier.

supermarket yoghurt.jpg

You have heard all this talk about probiotic food being good for you, your gut and your health. You have also heard that yoghurt is a great source of probiotics so you head off to the supermarket to buy some.

And then you see it – the yoghurt aisle in the store – longer and with more choices than you can even imagine.

Where do you start?   Some make amazing health claims and some are cloaked in your children’s favourite cartoon characters.

But are these actually the best varieties to choose from?

Here are some pointers based on a nutritionist’s perspective, not the current star size from the heart foundation (that still holds on to the dated theory that all fat is bad for you).

WHAT TO CHOOSE FROM A YOGHURT:

  1. A yoghurt should be naturally thick, creamy and high in protein.
  2. Avoid any that are flavoured – these are often the fruit varieties – very few yoghurts actually just contain yoghurt and fruit. They often contain artificial flavours and colours and loads of sugar.
  3. Avoid the low-fat varieties – yes indeed as often the fat is replaced with extra sugar. Not good.
  4. Avoid any that list sugar in the top 3 ingredients – that about eliminates all flavoured varieties on the shelf: BUT BEWARE – some “natural" yoghurts even have added sugar these days – read your labels. 
  5. Avoid any additives – this takes away from the naturalness of the product. Australian law does not require manufacturers to list what flavours they use – because it could be a trade secret. This virtually allows the producers free-range when adding chemicals to create flavour.  At a push, natural flavours are always best.
  6. Organic is usually best.  The dairy industry is known for its use of chemicals, not only in their paddocks, but in the feed and also to the cattle.
  7. Don’t be swayed by the probiotic hype – The Weston A Price Foundation tested many yoghurts a few years back and found that most of the probiotics were dead by the time they reached the shelves – including ALL of the flavoured/fruit varieties tested. The only ones to contained any glimpse of good bugs were the higher fat, non-flavoured or non-sugared varieties.
  8. If you want flavour, buy a natural yoghurt and add your own. Or only have the flavoured varieties on special occasions.   

MY PICKS - FROM BEST TO APPALLING!

BARAMBAH

Due to the very naturalness of this product it receives the No. 1 vote from me.

PLUSES:

It’s organic! They have plenty of plain varieties, some of which are slightly higher in fat (up to 4% which is slightly higher than full cream milk). They are also a lot lower in sugar than all other varieties – at 3.6% in the plain variety to 8.8 % in the strawberry variety. Barambah also has a calcium content at 170mg per 100g.  Protein content at 5% is lower than Chobani, but still higher than  most other varieties. They have infant and low lactose varieties. All  are free of any thickeners or stabilises.

MINUSES:

The lower protein content is a little disappointing as is the fact that the Greek variety now contains both honey and sugar (albeit organic and still only bringing the sugar content to 6%). Other varieties such as bush honey and vanilla have up to 9% sugar. Still lower than the other flavoured commercial brands. 

CHOBANI

This gets the 2nd place only because it isn’t organic. Very high in protein and low in sugar.

PLUSES:

The best of the non-organic bunch. they actually use real fruit and a natural thickening process avoiding added gelatine. They add 5 different probiotic cultures. The natural variety is sugar free and nearly 10 % (9.7) protein.  That’s twice as high as some of the other commercial varieties

MINUSES:
The fruit varieties still have sugar as their second ingredient and contain guar gums and natural flavours. They are approx. 7.6 – 8.1% protein – so lower than their natural variety.  It still is a low-fat variety, so even with the plain variety you will find 4.2% sugars (9.9% for the strawberry flavour)..

JALNA

Jalna gets the third place because it is also a very natural product with relatively low additives. Stick to the natural variety in this one. The fruit varieties have far too much sugar.

PLUSES:

A very natural yoghurt without any added anything: sugar, stabiliser, gums, flavours, colours or preservatives. Their main claim to fame is that every yoghurt is set in its own pot, eliminating the need for stabilisers and thickeners. They have an organic and biodynamic variety as well.

Their pure and creamy range has 5% fat and a whopping 180mg per 100g of calcium. It also contains a decent amount of protein -  at 5.7%

The Greek range is 10% fat, 4.8%of sugar and 130mg of calcium per 100g

All containers are BPA free.

MINUSES:

The pure and creamy has quite a high sugar content, at 6.7 % despite being a natural flavour.

The raspberry flavour (they don’t seem to have a strawberry flavour) is a whopping 11.6% sugars. That’s because, whilst they advertise ” no added cane sugar”, they add fruit concentrate or juice (SNEAKY SNEAKY) – they lost a few stars from me due to this.

Five:am

five:am yoghurt

A relatively new kid on the block. This yoghurt has become increasingly popular. A close 4th with Jalna – its organic, but low in protein and really high in sugar

PLUSES:

Its organic! It also has a natural variety and tastes amazing. They have truly natural colours in their fruit flavoured varieties and no nasty stabilisers with the exception of rice starch. They also have an unsweetened Greek style (which does have 7.2% contained sugar though.). They also have novel and very interesting flavours such as coffee.

MINUSES:

It is quite low in protein (4.8%) and high in sugar (6% in the natural variety and 12% in the strawberry flavour). The second ingredient is often sugar (albeit organic & raw, but still sugar)

YOPLAIT

yoplait.JPG

This is the first of the bad varities in my opinion and it just goes downhill from now.

PLUSES:

Contains real fruit and natural flavours. It has one of the highest calcium contents at 162 mg per 100g. But that’s about it for this one.

MINUSES:

Yoplait yoghurt contains preservatives – one of the few varieties that do , gelatine ( halal- so no clue what this may be), carrageenan and modified starch ( no elaboration whether this is rice or corn). It is low in protein (4.6%) and high in sugar (12.8%), albeit lower than some of the mass – produced varieties. It claims to contain the “natural” colour carmine (aka E120) which is just another word for cochineal – a colouring derived from beetles and known for its hyperactivity and allergic properties.  And if you are a vegetarian or one whose religion forbids this type of processing it is certainly one to be aware of.  DODGY DODGY. 

No plain variety available in Yoplait either

A SPECIAL MENTION ON THE Formé VARIETY

This is just a container of additives and chemicals – including 2 artificial sweeteners (950 Acesulphame-K and 955 - Sucralose) Both with a long list of side effects. It is low protein, low fat. Essentially low nutrition and high artificial everything!

VAALIA

PLUSES:

Relatively high in protein (6%) and very high in calcium (200mg per 100g). They have a natural variety.

MINUSES:

They have so many health claims plastered over every container, I was immediately suspicious. Even the natural variety is high in sugar (7. 4%). This is probably because it is low fat and they have added extra lactose. The strawberry variety has a huge 14.1% sugar – the highest of all those tested.

Contains sugar as the second ingredient. It also contains inulin as a thicken, which is a fructan and will cause you all sorts of grief if you are trying to follow the FODMAPS diet.  Inulin is virtually impossible for anybody to digest.  Also, contains other starches, flavours, colours and preservatives.

ACTIVIA

PLUSES:

Activa is a side shoot of the Danone brand. Unfortunately, most of this yoghurt’s pluses come in its health claims only. The advertising goes to great lengths to describe how important probiotics are for you, but don’t really make mention of if there are actually any left in the yoghurt once it has been through its manufacturing process.

MINUSES:

How shall I count the ways? This yoghurt is laden with sugar – a whopping 13.1% in its strawberry variety. It is low in protein (4.9%). It contains either corn or rice starch (no mention whether this is GMO free).  One very interesting note, the vanilla flavour contains even more sugar (13.8%).  It contains artificial flavours (WARNING!!!). They do not actually have a plain variety.

Activa also uses carrageenan as its stabiliser.  This highly processed food additive is initially made from red seaweed, but due to the addition of highly alkaline chemicals, renders it extremely inflammatory. It has actually been utilised in lab experiments to induce gastrointestinal inflammation in lab animals. According to Dr Josh Axe, it has been linked to various cancers and foetal malformations. ( https://draxe.com/what-is-carrageenan) And they put this in food we should feed our families? NO THANK YOU.

SKI  

This only got any sort of mention because (I think) it is yoghurt..

PLUSES:

? um??????

MINUSES:

More numbers than a math’s text book, thickeners from corn (which they call maize to confuse you), artificial flavours, colour (again cochineal) and gelatine (an animal product usually derived from pork). Very low in protein at 4.1% and high in sugar, at 11%.

Ski is made by the multi-national Nestlé brand – not known for its great humanitarian or environmental policies. Remember Nestlé is the group that gave baby formula to South American native women until their own breast milk dried up – then they had to buy it at great loss of lives. This led to a boycott of their baby formula in the 70s in the U.S.A. They claim its real yoghurt What does that even mean. Nothing good in this one.

So there you have it - just because it says yoghurt doesn't mean it's good for you .