One of the most common questions I get asked is “what yoghurt should I buy”*? There are so many varieties available with options such as fat free, greek, greek style, pot set – what should you choose? With a group of my University Qualified Nutritionist colleagues we’ve put together a table of our favourite brands. What we have considered is:
- Protein content
- Fat content
- Sugar content
One interesting thing I learnt is that while we all recommend fairly similar products we don’t all buy the same brand. Which goes to show that taste is the most important consideration. There’s no point in buying something healthy if you just don’t like the taste!
One reason I encourage my clients to eat yoghurt is that it makes a great high protein snack, fantastic for morning or afternoon tea, to add to your breakfast to fill you up for longer or for post workout recovery. Yoghurt contains all the essential amino acids required for muscle growth and repair. Greek yoghurt is strained which increases the protein content. Make sure you stir in the clear liquid that separates from your yoghurt – this is the “whey”.
You are probably aware that a lot of yoghurts contain very high amounts of added sugar basically turning them into a dessert. If you stick to unsweetened varieties the sugar on the nutrition panel will come from the natural sugar present in milk – lactose. You can stir in your own fruit to sweeten your yoghurt or add a little honey or maple syrup – then you know exactly how much sugar you are adding. Look for yoghurts than contain less than 12g of sugar per 100g serve. My son takes plain yoghurt to school with a big serve of my toasted maple, nut and seed granola which he mixes together for after sport training.
While all yoghurts contain starter cultures, not all have probiotics - live bacteria that survive digestion and colonise in the gut. Look for a yoghurt that states on the label, even better if the label lists the cultures and amounts. Top marks to Jalna for this.
Studies have demonstrated that dairy fat is not linked to weight gain. Personally, I like full fat yoghurt as I find it keeps me fuller for longer. However, some of my colleagues choose a fat-free yoghurt and get their fat from other sources such as avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds.
Adults are encouraged to eat 2 ½ serves of dairy a day to reach their recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium of 1000mg day (higher for teenagers and over 50s), where a serve is a 200g tub of yoghurt. Calcium is important for bone health, but did you know that eating dairy foods like yoghurt can also help protect against heart disease and stroke, reduce high blood pressure, and may reduce the risk of some cancers and type 2 diabetes?
I’ve listed below the yoghurts that I and my colleagues eat and recommend. My personal favourites are Evia, Barambah and Chobani. What’s your favourite yoghurt?