Pot set, Greek or natural? Australians love their yoghurt: for breakfast, as a quick snack, or added into dressings and sauces – with the average person eating around seven kilograms each year.
And there’s a good reason for its popularity.
“Yoghurt is a nutritious dairy food that provides us with calcium for strong bones and teeth, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, riboflavin, Vitamin B12 and zinc,” Accredited Practising Dietitian Sanchia Parker told The Huffington Post Australia.
“Ideally we should be having between 2.5 to 4 serves of dairy food a day (depending on age, gender and activity level), and yoghurt is a convenient and healthy food to reach these guidelines,” Parker said.
“Even better if you are able to find yoghurt that contains probiotics.”
“Probiotics contain live bacteria that have a beneficial effect on the healthy bacteria living in the digestive system, helping to maintain a healthy gut,” Parker said.
But with so many varieties, it’s easy to get confused about what’s what and, importantly, if some yogurts are better for us than others – and why.
Greek yoghurt is a thicker, creamier type of yoghurt, made by removing the liquid (whey) part of the yoghurt.
This can result in higher amounts of protein, but also higher amounts of fat, so opt for a low-fat one where possible.
Natural yoghurt is simply yoghurt with no sweeteners or flavourings added.
This is yoghurt that has been flavoured with sugar, flavourings, fruit and so on.
The ingredients used to make the yoghurt (i.e milk and cultures) are added directly to the pot where it sets. This negates the need to add thickeners or stabilisers to the yoghurt. It’s a point to note there is not really a difference nutritionally between pot set and regular yoghurt. It’s just a different method of making it.
The makers of pot set yoghurt claim it’s healthier as it’s made without flavourings, thickeners, stabilisers and so on, but then plenty of other yoghurt brands are made without these things, too.
Frozen yoghurt is not as good an option because it’s generally higher in sugar (and fat, depending on the brand), plus the frozen yoghurts are more likely to contain flavouring and colouring that generally don’t appear in yoghurt. While yoghurt is a healthy choice, frozen yoghurt is considered more of a treat food.
This is made by mixing coconut cream or milk, with thickeners and some sweeteners to mimic the texture of yoghurt. However, the nutrition is vastly different from a typical yoghurt as it contains no calcium, is low in protein and very high in fat.
What to look for when choosing a yoghurt:
Ideally we want less than three grams of fat per 100 grams. The main type of fat in dairy is saturated fat. So opting for low-fat dairy is a good way to minimise saturated fat and excess kilojoules from our food.
Look for a yoghurt with less than 15 grams per 100 grams.
Some people are concerned about the sugar content in low fat yoghurts- in which case, go for low-fat natural or Greek yoghurt as these don’t have any sugar added to them. Then add berries or honey to sweeten if required, so you can control how much sugar you are adding.
3. The dairy alternatives
While coconut and almond yoghurt might work for those who are vegan or lactose-free be aware that just because the products are called ‘yoghurt’, nutritionally they are not the same.
Yoghurts are a good source of calcium and dairy, but coconut and almond yoghurt do not contain calcium naturally (unless it’s added, and only some products will add it), and both are low in protein – about 2% compared to dairy yoghurt which averages 5%.
Want to see more? Check out my guide to wraps here.
(Article from an interview I did with Huffington Post found here)