The diversity of dairy is on the increase and this is particularly evident in the yoghurt aisle. A simple choice of fruit or non-fruit has now become full-fat, low-fat, non-fat, Greek, kefir, breakfast, tub and coconut. Australian supermarkets are full of culture.
Yoghurt is creamy, delicious and nutritious. It contains calcium, protein, vitamins A, D, B12, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and probiotics. Dairy brands are milking the yoghurt craze so to overcome some of the confusion I’ve set out some of the rules when selecting your tubs.
One serving of yoghurt is 200 grams. Ideally, you should look for less than three grams of fat per 100 grams. The type of fat in yoghurt is saturated which can increase your chance of developing heart disease. If you’re at risk then go for low fat or non-fat options like Jalna Berry Fruits Low Fat Creamy Yoghurt or the Nestle Ski Soleil range.
Sugar content in yoghurt can be a concern. Try to aim for less than 15 grams per 100 grams. Low fat yoghurts tend to be higher in sugar. Opt for low-fat, natural or Greek yoghurt and then add your own sweetener of berries or honey. Good choices are Chobani Plain Yoghurt, Jalna Fat Free Natural Yoghurt or Barambah Organics All Natural Yoghurt.
Greek yoghurt is smoother and creamier than traditional yoghurt. It has double the protein and half the calcium due to whey being removed during the straining process. Greek yoghurt has a higher saturated fat content than regular yoghurts – up to 7 grams – compared to 4 grams for standard yoghurt.
Breakfast yoghurts appear to be a healthy option but they can be very high in sugar. Some tubs can have up to nine teaspoons of sugar. If you have to choose a breakfast pot then Vaalia Breakfast to Go is one of the better options. Try mixing low-fat yoghurt with your own muesli that isn’t toasted such as Morning Sun.
Dairy alternatives are plentiful in your cold section but be aware that while products like almond and coconut yoghurt are good options for those who are completely lactose intolerant they do not have the same nutritional benefit as regular yoghurt. They are significantly lower in both calcium and protein. A soy yoghurt such as the Soy Life range is the best alternative.
The probiotic benefits of yoghurt have been well marketed in Australia. This has been difficult to prove scientifically so that in Europe companies have been banned from claiming any probiotic benefit. Yoghurt does contain some bacteria but it is usually in numbers well below what is required to have a significant effect on our health.
Yoghurt labels will often name the different types of bacteria that were present at the time of production. Probiotics are very sensitive to light, heat, air and moisture though so there is no guarantee that bacteria will survive to assist our immune system. If you are still looking to gain some benefit from the probiotics in yoghurt then check the number of bacteria rather than the type on the label.
Yoghurt is incredibly versatile and can be added to fruit, smoothie bowls, cereal, baking and even salads. It makes us feel fuller for longer and assists our bones, teeth, digestion, muscles, nerves and immune system. Check your labels carefully so you can enjoy this culture which has been improving our health for centuries.