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The great yoghurt debate

By Reem Antoon

Apparently, a single pot of yoghurt can contain the entirety of a child’s daily sugar allowance!

Health officials in England say it is not the yoghurt but what is added to it that is the problem.

Earlier this month, a number of major brands were found by Public Health Liverpool to contain the equivalent of almost five sugar cubes.

“Avoid any yoghurt that claims to taste like a dessert, especially one that says it is fat-free, but that it tastes like banoffee pie,” says nutritionist Clarissa Lenher.

“The reason these yoghurts taste ‘good’ is that they have been packed full of sugars and/or sweeteners to replace the fats that have been stripped from them.

“Commercial yoghurts tend to be pumped with sugar and fruit purées to make them taste more like a dessert and less like a breakfast staple. By adding sugars to the mix, you are potentially causing your blood sugar levels to rise, which will start your day on a blood sugar rollercoaster, leading to less energy, more cravings and of course, hunger.”

In essence we should be looking for yoghurts that contain 4-6gm of sugar per 100gm serving, as this is roughly the amount of natural sugars that are present in dairy products.

Pure yoghurt is supposed to have two ingredients: Organic milk and live cultures.

The good news is that yoghurt in its simplist form can be good for us and it seems, we in the region are doing something right!

“In many Middle Eastern countries, full fat yoghurt is eaten with olive oil, herbs and seasoning, which is a great healthy option,” says Ms Lenherr.

“Yoghurt can be a fantastic addition to a healthy and well-balanced diet, as long as you choose the right kind. It’s a great choice for breakfast, as it offers a source of protein, fats and vitamins.

“Yoghurt with live cultures offers us a rich source of probiotics, which are crucial for our gut health and strengthen our digestive system and gut flora by providing good bacteria to help populate the gut. This supports digestion, immune system health and the creation of certain essential vitamins, such as Vitamin B12, that we need for balanced bodily function.”

Yoghurts made from whole milk are higher in saturated fat, though emerging research on dairy fat indicates that it may not negatively affect health. In one study, a higher intake of saturated fat from dairy was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, but a higher intake of saturated fat from meat was associated with greater risk.

Thankfully I love plain yoghurt and absolutely cannot tolerate fruit ones.

Also I am a lover of full fat rather than fat free or sugar free yoghurts… so yay to me!

Reem Antoon is a former GDN news editor. She can be reached on:

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