Yoghurt is frequently marketed as a healthy product to children and their parents. Very often, the health benefits are hyped up. Probiotics, calcium, vitamin D – all good for you, but at what cost? As well as the vitamins, minerals and “friendly bacteria”, these products often contain sugar, artificial sweeteners and colourings.
We are constantly being told that yoghurt is an important source of calcium and a great way to get dairy into our diet. While some yoghurts may be a good source of calcium, many are also full of sugar. Even fruit yoghurts, which contain miniscule amounts of actual fruit (if any) are not as healthy as they seem. For example, one pot of Müller Fruit Corner contains over 25g of sugar. To put this into perspective, there is less sugar in a Classic Magnum ice-cream (23g). So if you think that putting yoghurts into your child’s lunchbox is a healthy option, think again.
Even fromage frais yoghurts, which are commonly marketed as an ideal food for toddlers and young children, can be quite high in sugar. Try to be more label aware next time you’re doing a shop.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (such as bacteria), which, when taken in the right amounts, can have health benefits for the person taking them. The market for probiotic yoghurts and desserts in Western Europe is estimated to be worth up to 1 billion euro, and sales are growing.
There are a lot of probiotic products out there that claim to be good for your health in one way or another. Some imply that they are good for your digestion and others imply that they are good for your immune system. However, over the last few years, many claims like these have had to be withdrawn. In 2010, an independent panel of scientists from the European Food Safety Authority found that many of the health claims made about probiotics were either unfounded or small enough to be considered irrelevant.
In simple language: though probiotic yoghurts are often advertised as health foods, they usually provide very few health benefits. They are also full of unhealthy sugar!
Many sweetened yoghurts are far removed from yogurt in it’s simplest form – natural yoghurt, which is simply plain milk fermented by bacteria. Natural yoghurt tastes naturally sour. The reason most fruit yoghurts don’t taste sour is because of the added sugar. Natural yoghurt is also high in calcium, B vitamins and protein. Some natural yoghurts are higher in calcium compared to their flavoured cousins.
If you want to try natural yoghurt but find it too sharp – add some sweetness yourself. You can use honey or fruit that you have pureed yourself and stir it in. It requires very little effort and tastes delicious.
Consider the reasons why you buy sweetened yoghurt next time you are in the shops. Is it for the health benefits? A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and unsweetened dairy would be a much better option.
Do you put yoghurts in your child’s lunchbox? Did you realise that most yoghurts were so high in sugar? Leave us a comment and let us know!