Proper yogurt can serve as a delicious and healthy addition to any meal of the day. It contains probiotics, whose role in promoting a healthy gut flora and overall well-being is widely appreciated. As such, yogurt can be considered an acceptable source of a little bit of sugar in your diet. (I don’t say that very often… actually, that was probably the first time.)
BUT (you had to know there was a “but”) there are a lot of caveats. First and foremost is selecting the best yogurt product, since not many people are down with DIY fermentation (which is unfortunate given its tremendous ease). The yogurt with the most gravitas on the market: FAGE. It’s supposedly Greek, but I’d say given it’s macronutrient composition, it’s more Spartan. There are considerable differences between the plain and fruity varieties worth considering. For example, one serving of plain contains 190 kcal, 10g fat, 8g sugar, and 19g protein, whereas one serving of the blueberry-flavored variety contains 170 kcal, 6g fat, 16g sugar, and 11g protein. twice the sugar! This is unacceptable, primarily because while I’m not really clear what’s in the “blueberry fruit preparation” that’s listed in the ingredients, I’m sure it’s not real blueberries. Since real blueberries have negligible protein, we can assume the total protein content of the final product is entirely from the yogurt; therefore, their ambiguously named “blueberry fruit preparation” contributes about 27 grams to the entire 150 gram serving. This adds 12 grams of sugar, whereas 27 grams of real blueberries would provide only 3 grams of sugar (and some fiber and phytonutrients).
And pass on the 0% fat version; one serving contains all of the sugar but none of the healthy fats that slow down sugar absorption and contribute to satiation.
On to more pressing, or ‘popular,’ matters. Dannon is the most widely purchased yogurt on the market. One serving of plain Dannon yogurt contains 160 kcal, 8g fat, 12g sugar, and 9 grams of protein (less protein and healthy fats, and more sugar than its Spartan counterpart). Their vanilla-flavored variety has a whopping 25 grams of sugar (and it’s certainly not natural dairy sugar…). One serving of blueberry-flavored Fruit-on-the-Bottom contains 140 kcal, 1.5g fat, 26g sugar, and 6g protein. If you added real blueberries to the plain variety this would only yield 15 grams of sugar (still more than FAGE, FTR). Again, this additional sugar is not coming from real blueberries; unlike FAGE, who disguises their mystery flavor as “blueberry fruit preparation,” Dannon doesn’t even try to hide it. Right in the ingredients list you’ll find strike 1: sugar, strike 2: fructose syrup, and strike 3: high fructose corn syrup (I honestly don’t know why that’s listed as three separate ingredients. It’s like they’re trying to boast about it). I feel pre-diabetic just reading it. Yoplait is just as bad (high sugar and low protein); come on, Trix -flavored yogurt? Really?
With regard to promoting a healthy gut flora: Dannon contains only 1 probiotic strain: L. acidophilus; Yoplait has 2: L. bulgaricus and S. thermophiles; FAGE has 5, L. acidophilus, L. bulgaricus, S. thermophiles, Bifidus, and L. casei.