Yogurt is only two things: bacteria and milk. To make it, you heat milk, allow it to cool a bit then add live cultures (aka bacteria) let it incubate until it thickens and voilà, you have yogurt.
People have been doing this for thousands of years but there is an art to it. The basic formula can be manipulated in a multitude of ways to call it your own. Different kinds of milk (whole, low-fat, cow, sheep or goat milk even nondairy milk) will vary the specific types and combinations of bacteria, and use different vessels to make the yogurt. You can strain it in varying degrees, a little or a lot, to remove the whey and thicken the final product. We haven't even talked about the flavors.
These variables affect taste and texture but also make nutritional differences too. A yogurt's nutritional profile depends on what kind of milk is used, how much (if any) sweetener is used and whether the yogurt is strained. Most yogurts contain a wealth of good bacteria, protein, B vitamins and calcium, and they fill you up without a lot of calories.
Out of the more than 1,000 varieties available in supermarkets a typical yogurt contains more than half an adult’s daily recommended sugar allowance. In the hundred plus brands which are being marketed toward children practically none are low in sugar and many exceed 13 grams per container. You night as well give your kids a soda.
With the exception of natural, Greek and ‘Greek-style’ yogurts, the average sugar levels in yogurt are well above the 5g of sugar per 100g, threshold required to be classed low sugar. Items labelled organic are often thought to be the healthier option but they could be the unrecognized source of added sugars in many people’s diets. It's recommended that children should be consuming no more than 20 grams of sugar per day and while the yogurts marketed to them average more than 10 grams oper serving only two could be labebeled as "low in sugar".A single serving of yogurt can contain the entirety of a child's daily sugar allowance and some major brands have been found to contain the equivalent of almost five teaspoons full.New studies highlight the mixed messages that come from the marketing of yogurt products so it pays to be sleuth-like in the supermarket aisle.
Yogurt itself is a nutritional powerhouse as part of a balanced diet, so there's no need to avoid it. Yogurt can be a great source of protein, calcium, iodine and vitamin B12. Fermented dairy products have long been considered to be beneficial to digestive health, and yogurt has even been associated with lower risk of obesity and cardiometabolic risk in both children and adults.Natural, plain and Greek-style yogurts were found to have a dramatically different nutrient profile from all other categories, containing much higher levels of protein, lower carbohydrates level and the least amount of sugars. You would be wise to stick to these. It's not the yogurt itself that's the problem, but what's added to it. Avoid any yogurts that claim to taste like a dessert, especially one's that say fat-free or that it tastes like a banana cream pie. The reason these yogurts taste so good is that they have been packed full of sugar and/or other sweeteners which the fats that have been stripped from them.
The Isle de Yogurt
What about full fat versus low fat? "The fat in dairy products is what makes them satiating, and by stripping dairy products of their fat, you are also reducing the amount of Vitamin A and D that they contain. Both are crucial vitamins and both are fat-soluble, which means that they need fat to be absorbed. So, even when you choose low-fat dairy products that have been fortified with these vitamins you may not even be absorbing them, due to the fact that the product has little fat left in it.
"Studies suggest that those who regularly consume high-fat dairy products are likely to experience a higher level of weight loss, than those who opt for lower fat dairy or dairy alternatives such as margarine."
Dueling prognosticators illustrate two different views on todays yogurt trends, one good the other not so good. Yogurt is projected to be a nearly $10 billion industry by 2020. Greek yogurt giant Chobani’s chief marketing officer Peter McGuinness characterizing the drop in yogurt sales as a “natural progression of a maturing category.” McGuinness acknowledged that yogurt companies had essentially created their own problem by clobbering customers with way too many yogurt options at once. Note that the avereage grocery store in America may have as may as 300 yogurt varieties in a given store. The market bloat is self-inflicted. So how will Big Yogurt get Americans to eat more yogurt? With even more choices, of course. Companies like Chobani and Dannon are releasing lower sugar yogurt options, vegan yogurt, and yogurts marketed towards the children of millennials. The brands are also trying to make yogurt more of a snack than a breakfast food.
Yogurt may be facing a more challenging future, but it’s not alone in the dairy sector. The milk industry is also facing falling sales as consumers decamp for alternative non-dairy “milk” products.