In “fruit yogurt”, there is “fruit”: the promise of a healthy product. However, some of them are authentic bombs of sugars, additives and sometimes… without fruit inside! How to avoid the pitfalls of the food industry and choose a “real” and good fruit yogurt?
A yogurt is a living product! It is made from milk fermented by two bacterial strains: Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Whether it’s fruit, plain, flavored, firm, whipped, or Greek, it must have been fermented exclusively by these two bacteria to be called “yogurt.” If the milk has been inoculated with other ferments, then we speak of “fermented milk” and no longer “yogurt”.
The addition of fruit is done in different ways: either we use real fruit (cut or blended), or we use flavorings (sometimes both).
The amount of actual fruit found in the jars varies by brand: 1%, 5%, 12%, etc. Of course, the more the better, and aromas are the option to avoid. We will develop this point later.
Animal milk yoghurts and plant-based yoghurts: what are the differences?
It is possible to find fruit yogurts made with animal milk (cow, sheep, goat) or vegetable yogurts made with vegetable ingredients (soy, coconut, almond, etc.). However, the latter are not authorized to be called “yogurts”, this name being authorized only for products that use animal milk. We speak then of “vegetable dessert” (“soy dessert” for example).
If yogurt is necessarily fermented with two strains of bacteria, this is not necessarily the case for vegetable dessert. Therefore, it may or may not be fermented, and usually contains thickeners or gelling agents to approximate the texture of yogurt. In addition, these types of products often contain many additives and the list of ingredients can quickly grow and become incomprehensible: tricalcium citrate, calcium salts, antioxidants, fatty acid esters, etc. The vegetable dessert is generally a little less sweet.
Large amount of sugar, aromas and additives.
If you’re not careful, fruit yogurts can quickly turn into overly sweet and processed desserts.
Up to 3 sugar cubes per jar!
On average, fruit yoghurts contain 14% sugar, which is equivalent to 3 sugar cubes for a single 125g pot. They are therefore very sweet products to consume occasionally. A fruit yoghurt or flavored with animal milk contains on average 2.5 sugar cubes per 125 g pot compared to 2 for a vegetable “yoghurt”. Ideally, a fruit yogurt does not contain more than 12 g of sugar per 100 g, with the vegetable version being a little more interesting from this point of view.
The other important point to keep in mind is the type of sugar that is used. While some products use cane sugar, which is a good point because it contains some vitamins and minerals, others use glucose or glucose-fructose syrup.
These syrups should be avoided because they are processed sugars and their glycemic index (GI) is too high (95 to 100/100 vs. 65 to 70/100 for cane sugar). Glucose syrups and others, in addition to being refined, promote insulin spikes and therefore a more pronounced dysregulation of blood sugar. In addition, consumers of processed foods that contain this type of sugar are more prone to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and dysregulation of the intestinal microbiota.
Finally, also pay attention to products that use fruit jam. They are often sweeter because sugar is added in the preparation of the jam. A fruit yogurt is not a yogurt with fruit jam…
Scents but few real fruits…
A good fruit yogurt should contain only real fruit. To do this, read the list of ingredients carefully: if you read, for example, “strawberry 12%”, it means that there is fruit, up to 12%.
Above all, don’t be fooled by the image of the fruit on the packaging, because that means nothing! In fact, many brands play with images but use flavors instead, many of which are artificial because they are cheaper. Flavor claims can be confusing… To see more clearly, let’s take stock. If you read:
- “Natural aroma of…”: it is a natural aroma of which 95% must come from the mentioned ingredient. For example, “natural strawberry flavor” means there is 95% natural flavor from real strawberries. It is the best option among the three types of flavor.
- ” Natural flavor ” : The aroma emanates from natural ingredients (of vegetable or animal origin), but does not necessarily correspond to the flavor of the fruit of the yogurt. For example, a “plain strawberry” yogurt may have a natural flavor made from wood chips. (you read that right!), but without a touch of strawberry…
- “Smell”: here, the aroma can be natural or not, and its flavor can be mentioned (eg: “strawberry aroma”). For reasons of cost, most are non-natural flavors, that is, molecules produced from a chemical synthesis that reproduces the flavor of the fruit. In general, if there are no strawberries in the yogurt, a statement of “flavour”, “flavour”, “fragrance” or “flavored” appears before the name of the fruit, such as “strawberry flavored yogurt”.
Thickeners, gelling agents, sweeteners…
Many fruit yogurts contain additives. Most of them are thickeners and gelling agents, emulsifiers, colorants, preservatives and sweeteners. Thickeners and gelling agents are widely used in this type of product to provide the desired consistency, such as creaminess or smoothness. Among the texturizers, the most used are modified corn and cassava starches, as well as carrageenan. Pectin follows, followed by guar and xanthan gums.
There are different categories of additives whose effects on health vary: some are classified as green (acceptable), others yellow (tolerable), orange (not recommended) and red (to be avoided). If it is especially necessary to remove the last two, it is better to avoid additives altogether if possible. In fact, we must not forget the famous “cocktail effect”, because we consume many different foods every day. Even with small amounts, a buildup of additives occurs in the body, impairing the health of the intestines.
6 criteria for choosing a good fruit yogurt
- Choose a yogurt that contains real fruitand, ideally, a maximum percentage of fruit (to be read in the list of ingredients).
- Opt for as little sugar as possible:12g/100g maximum, less is better. Then with real cane sugar, avoiding glucose or glucose-fructose syrups.
- Avoid additives as much as possible.Do not forget the famous “cocktail effect”. A good fruit yogurt made with animal milk should contain 0 or 1 additive, and up to 2 or 3 additives maximum for a vegetable dessert. The worst can hold up to 10!
- Choose organic productshowever, without blindly trusting this type of product: pay attention to the amount of additives and the amount of sugar used.
- Avoid products with flavorings and/or dyes.Pay special attention to two points: don’t be fooled by the beautiful fruits shown on the packaging (it often says “flavor…” next to it), and remember that the presence of a “natural flavor” does not guarantee the presence of the fruit highlighted in the pot.
- If possible, choose milk of French origin instead of the European Unionand avoiding a dominant powdered milk instead of whole milk. This promotes local production, limits the carbon footprint and ensures better traceability. The origin of vegetable drinks (soy, almond, coconut) remains more exotic but also more unknown in most cases.
Are 0% fat yogurts healthier?
No, you have to avoid them! 0% fat yogurts usually contain many additives in addition to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and acesulfame K. In fact, to return the creaminess to the yogurt (lost due to the absence of fat), thickeners and sugar are added. This is the case, for example, of “0% fat fruit yoghurts – Yoplait basket”.
The case of organic yogurts
Organic yogurts are made from organic milk, fruit, and sugar. The production is the same as that of conventional yogurts. In accordance with regulations, organic products do not contain artificial colors, flavors or flavor enhancers. Although they generally contain fewer additives, around fifty of them are authorized (compared to more than 300 for non-organic products). So be careful anyway with organic ones, do not close your eyes to their composition and continue to analyze the list of ingredients. The additives mainly used are gelling agents and thickeners such as carrageenan (E407), agar-agar (E406), carob seed flour (E410) and pectins (E440).
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