Does Your Yogurt Pack More Sugar Than…a Twinkie?

We all like to think of yogurt as a healthy breakfast, but as it turns out, many of the most popular yogurt brands have more sugar than a Twinkie.  If Twinkies are not your breakfast of choice, read on:

The American Heart Association recommends that men eat no more than 36 grams of sugar per day, and women no more than 20.
One Twinkie makes a big dent in that total packing 19 grams of sugars.
But did you know that many of the top-selling yogurts have more?
We’re not talking about the naturally occurring sugars in yogurt, namely the lactose.  Even that varies greatly. In plain yogurt, it’s common to see anywhere between 12 and 15 grams of naturally occurring lactose (a sugar) according to Heather Bauer, R.D., CDN. That’s why Bauer recommends going Greek. Greek yogurt, she said, has as little as 6 grams in plain flavors, not to mention 2-3 times the protein content.
Really, the yogurt isn’t the problem.  It’s what we add to plain yogurt that gets us in trouble.  Syrupy, sweetened fruit that is usually mixed into store-bought yogurts is usually the problem. Add some candied nuts and/or sweetened granola, and that breakfast blows the sugar content of an entire Twinkie out of the water.
Many buyers don’t care for the sour taste of a plain yogurt. So, nearly all big brands, like Yoplait and Dannon, offer a large selection of fruit–and sometimes even dessert-flavored options.  It’s often these sweet additions that give the yogurts like the five below more sugar than a Twinkie.  Think about it.  Cheesecake.  Key Lime Pie.  Banana Cream.  Do those sound like healthy choices?  Here’s a sample of what’s out there and they don’t sound like dessert.  They all sound “healthy”:
  • Yoplait Original Strawberry:  despite being 99 percent fat free, packs 26 grams of sugar per 6-ounce container.
  • Dannon Fruit On The Bottom Blueberry: 24 grams of sugar per 6-ounce serving.
  • Stonyfield Smooth & Creamy Low-fat French Vanilla:  just because it’s organic, doesn’t stop them from totaling 29 grams of sugar per 8-ounce serving.
  • Brown Cow Non-fat Vanilla: 25 grams of sugar per 6-ounce container.
  • Activia Blueberry Probiotic Yogurt: 19 grams of sugar per 4.4-ounce container of the blueberry flavor. That’s as much as a Twinkie, in a smaller-than-average serving size.  Can you eat just one?
Short story:  if you like plain yogurt, add your own “sweets.”  If you don’t like it, add it to your smoothie or don’t eat it!  You can find better sources of protein and vitamins and minerals!

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