Your "Healthy" Yogurt May Be Loaded With Sugar and Not Probiotics
8 minute read
With all the recent rage about how great probiotics are for your health, yogurt is more popular than ever. As a possible great source of probiotics, depending on the type, yogurt is a wonderfully nutritious snack.
The problem is that many of the yogurts you buy at the store may be loaded with sugar and have no actual bacteria to improve your health.
When you end up eating too much-hidden sugar, all sorts of problems arise. Compounded with a lack of probiotics, some yogurts are about as healthy as a bowl of ice cream.
The Truth Beneath the Surface
Recent studies have found that yogurts on average have more sugar than is recommended. Several styles of yogurts were analyzed to get this result, including children’s yogurts, natural yogurt, Greek, fruit-flavored, and dairy alternative versions.
Natural and Greek-style yogurts were found to have less sugar than the others, but the levels were still higher than most people would expect from a food thought to be healthy for us.
The yogurts that come with toppings or added fruit are the highest in sugar content, and these also happen to be the most frequently consumed. With children eating these flavored yogurts more often, concern rises for whether they are healthy or not.
When trying to live a healthy lifestyle, avoiding known “bad” foods is easy, but it is what we don’t know that is more dangerous. However, despite having higher sugar levels than expected yogurt is still a healthier option for processed snacks.
In general, however, yogurts have come under scrutiny lately as to their overall contribution to health. How beneficial are the nutrients and potential probiotics if your body becomes overcome with sugar?
Too much sugar can be dangerous to your health, and these hidden sugars are particularly worrisome. You think you are eating healthy, but in reality, your yogurt could be doing more harm than good.
With many of us choosing “low-fat” yogurts in an attempt to better our health, we overlook the sugar content. Most people fail to realize that sugars contribute to weight gain just as much as fat.
Sugar is linked to obesity through its impact on your gut health. Harmful bacteria living in your gut thrive on sugars, and too much can allow them to grow and outnumber the beneficial flora you have living there. This dramatically increases your risk of inflammation and serious disease.
Yogurt, in particular, is a wonderful source of probiotics for digestive health, which makes it ideal for promoting gut health. The catch is to make sure the yogurt is not so full of sugar, that it trumps the benefits of the live bacteria.
More natural yogurts or homemade varieties contain less sugar, so you can get a beneficial dose of probiotics without a dangerous sugar rush to feed the harmful strains in your gut.
Not All Yogurt Is Probiotic
While we assume yogurt contains probiotic strains, after all, it is made by bacteria, by the time it reaches a supermarket, many types of yogurt contain no probiotics at all.
This is a result of the practice of heating the yogurt following pasteurization. This means that all the bacteria, which would normally be there are killed, creating a flavorful, sugary, unhealthy snack.
To avoid missing out on yogurt’s biggest benefit, be sure you only buy yogurts that explicitly say they “contain live and active cultures.” Greek and natural yogurts are, again, the most likely to be healthy.
The Trouble with Too Much Sugar
You don’t have to be a diabetic to suffer from health problems related to sugar. Too much sugar in anyone’s diet can be bad. Many chronic diseases are linked to the consumption of sugar, which makes it more important to be aware of what you eat.
This includes finding out what sugar is hidden in some of your favorite foods too. Too much sugar consumption has been linked to:
♦ Weight gain and obesity
♦ Increased risk of heart disease
♦ Increased risk of diabetes through inflammation and increased insulin resistance
♦ Depression and other mood disorders
♦ Poor immune system health
♦ Cognitive decline and increased risk for dementia
♦ Accelerated skin aging and skin conditions like acne
♦ Cellular aging by impacting the length of your chromosomes
♦ Fatty liver disease caused when the liver has excess glycogen it has to store
♦ Increased risk for certain cancers
♦ Negative impact on dental health, including increases cavities
♦ Energy spikes and crashes causing fatigue and extended periods of decreased energy
No More Sugar Rush
The typical Western diet sadly contains a large amount of high-sugar foods. Processed and convenience foods are laden with sugar and even worse, there are a number of supposedly healthy foods out there with hidden sugar.
The best way to avoid sugar is to buy organic or natural plain yogurt and add your own fruit. You get yogurt that has not been overly processed and has no additives, and you can give it any flavor you like.
| Related: What You Want and What to Avoid When Buying Probiotics |
Honey also makes a natural sweetener that is better for you than sugar and gives a deliciously sweet taste. If you or the kids are picky, try using a blender to mix the fruit with the yogurt and you get a more uniform taste.
Cinnamon is also a natural way to flavor plain yogurt and helps to control blood sugar levels and inflammation too. Beyond this, the best thing you can do is to carefully read the label.
The naturally occurring lactose in yogurt is a sugar that is not considered to be bad for you. It does not come with the health concerns that processed sugars have. Added sugars and sweeteners are what you want to avoid. The more natural and plain the yogurt is, the better for you it will be.
The Bottom Line
Yogurt can indeed be a part of a healthy and balanced diet. As with many foods these days, though, manufacturing and processing have caused great interference. While these processes help in the business world, they do not help your health.
Yogurt should be full of nutrients and beneficial probiotics to boost your health and well-being. Just be sure to go natural, and flavor it your own way, so you can avoid the dangers of hidden sugars and lost probiotics.