Benefits and Drawbacks of Yogurt When Kicking Your Sugar Habit
Eating too much added sugar can be one of the biggest hurdles people face today when trying to improve their overall health. Added sugars contribute additional calories and provide zero nutritional value. Above and beyond weight issues excess sugar intake is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a whole list of problems for your body.
According to the American Heart Association, the major sources of added sugars in American diets are regular soft drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, pies, dairy desserts, and milk products (ice cream, sweetened yogurt, and sweetened milk) as well as other processed foods such as honey-nut waffles.
Too Much Sugar in Yogurt
Many clients are surprised that yogurt makes the list, an item that had previously been labeled a health food. While yogurt has some very significant benefits, such as providing you with probiotics that help you digest food and keep that oh so important gut healthy, in recent years yogurts with added sugars are becoming more and more popular. Some brands of yogurt have even surpassed soft drinks or junk food in terms of the amount of sugar that is added. Most of these are the yogurts that come in fruit flavors or contain a fruit layer on the bottom or top.
Some of the yogurts that are even marketed to us as healthy options, the low fat or the all natural varieties are the worst culprits. For example, take a quick peek at this article from HuffPost Yogurts with More Sugar Than a Twinkie. I am continually surprised when I flip yogurt containers over to read the list of ingredients and find out how much added sugar is in each container. The “added sugar” goes by an endless list of names: pure cane sugar, dextrose, fructose, syrups, fruit concentrate, fruit juice, and the list goes on.
Is Yogurt Bad for You?
Now don’t go adding yogurt to the list of unhealthy foods just yet (unless you already know that yogurt doesn’t make your body feel good). It still could belong on your healthy food list as it is nutrient-packed that provides you with calcium, protein, B vitamins and minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Yogurt is also fermented with beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. Having foods with probiotics such as yogurt can help bring some balance in the world of bacteria in your gut. Probiotics have been found to aid in bowel trouble and digestion, so much so that some folks who can’t eat dairy foods can tolerate yogurt. Building that good bacteria in your gut also can strengthen your immune system as well as impact your mental health.
Tips for Reaching for the Healthiest Yogurt
Go for Greek and Full Fat: Greek yogurt is strained differently than the traditional. This straining process removes the liquid whey along with some of the naturally occurring sugars. This leaves you with a thicker yogurt that is about double the protein. Full fat yogurt will have fewer preservatives or added sugars then reduced fat yogurt, all while blunting your insulin response to the naturally occurring sugars found in yogurt.
Make Your Own Fruit Flavors: I have two options for you here. The first step is to buy plain yogurt. You can easily top plain with a handful of fresh blueberries, cinnamon, vanilla, nuts, chia seeds, and other ingredients to give it some flair and taste. The second option is to use your blender. Every few weeks I buy a whole milk plain Greek yogurt and blend it with a banana and frozen strawberries to either send with my boys to school in their lunch or offer to them as ice cream. They can’t get enough of it and it’s 3 times less sugar than if I bought the strawberry banana flavored yogurt many kids eat regularly.
Opt for Yogurt as Dessert: Yogurt has a wonderfully creamy smooth texture. It isn’t hard to convince yourself it’s a treat. If you use it to replace your regular dessert you can give yourself double credit because you will be eliminating the added sugars you would be getting from the pudding or cookies that you would otherwise be eating.
Sugar is a tricky battle for many people. And unfortunately, the more you eat the more you crave and raise your sugar tolerance. Taking this simple step to decrease your intake will help to decrease your sweet tooth, while also giving you a food with some good nutrition. For more tips on how to decrease sugar in your daily life set up a health assessment with Sol Nutrition and we can review together easy ways to cut it out.