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As a nutritionist working in Kingsford, I  often get asked,  How to choose a good quality yogurt ?

I find some yogurts are more like dairy based deserts  than yogurt due to all the extra ingredients such as sugar, cream, thickeners, gums, starches and flavours. So my advice is to always read the ingredients which are listed in descending order of weight (from most to least).

My tops tips for reading the label :

Probiotic Power

Probiotic means 'for life' and with yogurt, refers to the live bacteria  it contains  which help with digestion and gut health. But surprisingly, not all yogurt actually contains "live and active cultures," as the probiotics  in yogurt are known. Yes, some companies heat-treat yogurt after culturing, which kills off bacteria to increase their shelf life !

So look at the ingredients list to see what cultures they contain and pick ones that  contain at least 100 million CFUs (colony forming units).

Make calcium count

Yogurt is a good source of bone-building calcium but the amount can vary from brand to brand. Aim for one that has at least 10-15 percent of the daily value for calcium. From 9 years of age we need approx 1,300mg daily, so over103mg+ is good.  Also remember leafy greens are another source of calcium.

Do a sugar check

Trying to cut back on added sugar? Don't rely only on the number of grams listed on the label. Yogurt has a fair amount of naturally occurring milk sugar, aka lactose (about 9g in a 150g container of plain regular yogurt, and about 7g in Greek yogurt), and the sugar figure includes both natural and added sugars.  Short cut – Avoid any product that lists sugar as the first or second ingredient.

Beware of fruit yogurt

I don't like yogurt which comes with fruit. Main reason is that the sugar in the fruit will reduce the amount of probiotics and also some companies don't even use real fruit. I prefer to add your own fresh fruit to plain yogurt

Don't fear the fat

Opting for nonfat yogurt can help you keep calories and saturated fat in check. But be warned , "nonfat” doesn't always mean low in calories as most have added sugar."

Brief explanation of the different types of yogurt ?

Greek yoghurt

Plain yogurt and greek yogurt both start with the same raw ingredient—milk. The difference is caused by the processing; Greek yogurt is strained more times, which results in taking out  the liquid whey, leaving the yoghurt thick and creamy.  Generally Greek yogurt has  higher protein content, lower calcium levels,  along with a  higher saturated fat (up to 7g compared with around 4g for plain yoghurt), which helps make it thick and creamy. In my research at Coles I noticed that a lot of the Greek yogurts had the same amount of calcium as  plain yogurt and they did this by adding cream as the second ingredient.

Pot set – Milk and live cultures are added straight to the pot, which, makers claim, means thickeners such as gelatine need not be added. I like pot set if the ingredient list is clean.

Natural or plain yoghurt – Yoghurt without flavouring or added sugar.

Biodynamic – An ethical-ecological approach to agriculture that focuses on the relationship of soil, plants and animals. Like organic  it emphasises sustainability and does not involve chemicals in production.

Quick Product Review

I took myself and my camera  into Coles today and took a photo of the ingredients list of YoPRO, Tamar Valley Greek and Jalna Pot Set Greek yogurt. So without reading the next few lines and armed with the information above which one you would buy ?

My summary :

  • YoPRO – clean ingredients, high calcium, but no info on how many probiotics, so I called them, the support line couldn't answer, so I have to email them.
  • Tamar Valley Greek – adds cream to get the high Calcium
  • I bought the Jalna pot set

Author: Kate Wood

Kate has represented Australia as an 800m runner, winning five Australian titles and competing on the international stage. She also lectured track & field at the Australian College of Physical Education. After being forced into an early retirement due to injury, Kate turned to helping others with their health and wellness, with a special focus on families, pre-conception, pregnancy and paediatrics.

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