The Food Snob Series – Supermarket Yogurt Brands

I grew up eating homemade yogurt that was generally being made every few days, with the previous batch of yogurt being used to start the next batch.  I don’t ever remember my mom going over to my aunt’s house next door to borrow sugar, but I do remember her going over to get some homemade yogurt to use a starter for her own.  I even remember my mom making us homemade fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt with a dollop of homemade jam at the bottom of the container with the homemade yogurt left to ferment on top.  Of course, at the time, I had no appreciation for this homemade version and thought it was so much cooler to have store bought yogurts – how naive I was.

I’ve been doing some reading about skim milk and there were two things that caught my attention the most.  The first was a comment about how much higher the hormone concentration in skim milk is relative to whole milk since the fat is all removed.  The second was a comment about skim milk being a highly processed food – I’ve never thought of it in that manner, but why not? Most companies fortify their skim milk with powdered skim to ensure a proper color and consistency.  This powdered skim milk is produced by exposing the milk to high heat and pressure – this process oxidizes the cholesterol, which can lead to plaque formation in the arteries and heart disease.  So the very thing you think you are preventing by drinking skim milk is actually occurring because of it. These amounts of oxidized cholesterol in skim milk and reduced fat milk may be small, but really why take the risk? I could go on and on about why drinking skim or low fat milk is a waste of your time, but I’ll leave it at this – if you’re going to drink milk, drink a non-homogenized, organic brand.

Well that was a total tangent! This post was supposed to be about yogurt!  But my little rant above about milk was to bring additional awareness to what a scam nonfat and low fat yogurts really are – if you look at the labels closely, you’ll notice that most nonfat options have more sugar in them – added to make it taste better.  But that still isn’t what I was going to point out in this post – what I really wanted to talk about was the shelves full of fruit flavored yogurts, most of which have random additives.  Take the Yoplait brand for example:

Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Low Fat Milk, Sugar, Strawberries, Modified Corn Starch, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Kosher Gelatin, Citric Acid, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural Flavor, Pectin, Colored with Carmine, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3

You don’t need gelatin in your yogurt – it is probably the one ingredient I’ve been most sensitive to all my life as a vegetarian.  It is added to give the “yogurt” an appropriate texture.

The thing that gets me is that even some of the organic brands that are so readily available are also so high in sugar.  Stonyfield Organic is a line that is available at Costco, but take a look at the ingredient list.  Why is sugar the second ingredient? I don’t care if it is “naturally milled organic sugar” – it still adds 20g of sugar to a single serving.  And why do you need to add juice to give it a particular color? And how do you bottle “natural flavor” for a blueberry yogurt?

CULTURED PASTEURIZED ORGANIC LOW FAT MILK, NATURALLY MILLED ORGANIC SUGAR, ORGANIC BLUEBERRIES, PECTIN, NATURAL FLAVOR, ORGANIC
ELDERBERRY JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE (FOR COLOR), VITAMIN D3. CONTAINS OUR EXCLUSIVE BLEND OF SIX LIVE ACTIVE CULTURES: S. THERMOPHILUS L. BULGARICUS, L. ACIDOPHILUS, BIFIDUS, L. CASEI, AND L. RHAMNOSUS.

If you don’t have the time or don’t know how to make your own yogurt, find a good local organic brand (that’s what I do unless I need to be making yogurt in large quantities) or find a good probiotic supplement if you can’t have yogurt in your diet.  But stay away from the brands that are fooling you into thinking you’re eating something good for you – the only ingredient in your yogurt should be milk – and a little bit of fat never hurt anyone – go for the full fat version!

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4 comments

  1. I am in total agreement! When dieting it is better to eatthe full cream, full fat version of the yoghurt. Not only do you avoid the sugar/chemical sweetener that has been added, you also remain fuller for longer as the real deal takes longer to digest. And, of course, we all need a little fat in our diet.

  2. This is so true. A few years back our local supermarket was taste testing Greek Gods yoghurt, its a high fat greek style yoghurt. It was so good, from then on i no longer buy low fat or non fat. it does not need geletin because the milk fat makes it thick. I do occassionly buy the one sweetened with honey but my trick to reduce the carbs is to mix it with plain. It is yummy with cereal, granola, or oatmeal. The plain makes the best tzatziki.

    • Ellen, I love Greek yogurt but I’ve noticed that a lot of brands have started carrying 0% fat Greek yogurt – way to ruin a wonderful thing! And I’m a tzatziki junkie – bring on the garlic and dill!

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