Which yoghurt is the healthiest?
It’s the perfect little snack and addition to your meals, but not all yoghurt is created equal. And judging from how much space yoghurt takes in the supermarket, we’re all a bit confused over which is best to consume. Full fat? Low fat? Flavoured low fat with acidophilus? Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill talks us through.
Despite the harmless and often appealing labeling, be wary having too much of a good time with low fat friends in the fridge. Low fat doesn’t always equal healthy, in fact at times it can mean the complete opposite. When good quality fats are removed from the likes of milk and yoghurt, we are left with more of the milk sugars (lactose) so it can be problematic for those with lactose intolerance. The milk fats however, can feed our hormones the nutrition they need to thrive, give the yoghurt a delicious flavour and stabilize blood glucose levels far more effectively. A typical breakdown on low fat natural yoghurt might range something around this:
I never opt for low-fat, preferring to consume foods in their whole form so I get all of the nutrients intended in the food. I always opt for the least processed option of foods – making something low-fat means it goes through unnecessary processing.
While flavoured yoghurts are easy and sweetly satisfying, the old flavour bomb is unfortunately most often a sugar coated delight (that said, some out there do not offend as much as others so it’s always worth flipping the pack). And sure, the berry, vanilla and other such tasty tubs aren’t out to get you, but the sugar, flavouring and additive content in them will. Some boast up to 17g of carbohydrate per 100g when nutritionally we recommend 3-7g per 100g … ouch. You might see the breakdown of macro nutrients in flavoured yoghurt range between these.
Better to sweeten plain yoghurt yourself with a touch of honey and fresh fruit.
Nutritionists generally recommend natural yoghurt most frequently. The beautiful thing with good whole milk (read – full fat) natural yoghurt, is it tells it like it is. No additions of sugar, flavour or other such surprises you might find in low fat or sweetened yoghurt. Further, it retains the nutrition we love in yoghurt such as friendly bacteria acidophilus, bifidus and lactobacillus to nourish our digestive system. Most natural full fat yoghurts will feature a macro nutrient breakdown similar to the below – and that’s what you’ll look out for.
The hot favourite in health and a nourishing step away from dairy if you can’t digest cow’s milk or are simply omitting it from your diet for personal reasons. Coconut yoghurt, (providing it is 100% coconut based and not a coconut flavoured yoghurt), is creamy and delicious. It doesn’t waste on flavour purely because it celebrates all the goodness of the coconut and the fats that come with it. So be aware that it is rich in fat, and you won’t need to eat as much of it – fats are far more satiating than sugar. Stick to a few tablespoons to get your hit otherwise you might feel a little off in the belly. In the macro breakdown you’ll see the carbs are a little higher again, this is due to the naturally occurring sugars in coconut which is fine, as you won’t be able to eat as much of it as regular yoghurt.
Whether it’s supermarket shelf or deli style it’s worth knowing what you’re getting into with the Greek. Here’s the low down: A natural Greek yoghurt is made of milk, cream and live active cultures and that’s more or less it. However, being made with cream it is inevitably richer and thicker and nutritionally maybe not something that comes first thing in the morning. Use Greek as a mid afternoon snack or after dinner treat instead of ice cream. The macros look a little something like this …
If you look inside our fridge you’ll find natural most frequently and Greek on occasion. Natural is incredibly versatile for both sweet and savoury dishes and snacks. Try these on your next yogie attack:
Natural yoghurt with grated green apple and a sprinkle of crushed almonds.
Natural yoghurt in a spinach leaf with poached chicken, fresh herbs and chilli.
Natural yoghurt blended into smoothies with coconut water and fruit.
Natural yoghurt mixed with pesto spread on toast with tomatoes.
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