When yoghurt first became popular, it was the height of health food and even now it remains one of the most valuable quick snack foods to add to your diet.
It is very high in calcium to support bone growth and supplies your body will valuable B vitamins, specifically folic acid and B12 which are essential for a healthy blood supply.
Some yoghurts also contain ‘friendly bacteria’ which help keep your gut in order.
Beware though - as the market has grown, the number of yoghurts containing hidden sugars and high levels of fat has increased. Be choosy when picking your next pot.
Almost all yoghurt bought from the chiller cabinets in the supermarket are ‘live’ which means they contain living, growing bacterial cultures. Different types of cultures have different impacts on our health and different possible health benefits.
Standard culture yoghurts contain lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophiles, with different strains included depending upon the mildness of the yoghurt in question. These bacteria don’t have any direct positive impact on the gut but some research suggests that they can stimulate ‘friendly bacteria’ and help maintain a general health.
Bio culture yoghurts are usually cultured with bifidobacteria and lactobacillus acidophilus or other related strains. They have more potential to impact your health positively and they actually contain the ‘friendly bacteria’ your gut needs to remain healthy. Bio yoghurts are recommended for a number of health complaints too, including thrush and urinary infections.
Below is a closer look at the main types of yoghurt you may find on your supermarket shelf, their potential health benefits and any hidden nasties.
The purest and least modified yoghurt there is. Made through the fermentation of pasteurised milk, it has an acidic, thick flavour. The fat content depends on the milk used. Low-fat natural yoghurts tend to have just 2% fat or less. Natural yoghurt has the highest calcium levels of all types out there and 150g contains over a third of your recommended daily allowance.
Marketed as low-fat, this type of yoghurt tends to have around 50% more calories than your regular natural yoghurt and there is around two teaspoons of sugar per 150g pot. There are some positives though – it only raises blood sugar levels slowly so can help to keep hunger pangs at bay more successfully than biscuits or sweets.
Most diet fruit yoghurts are made using skimmed milk and sweeteners which account for the low calorie count. This also means the yoghurt is also lower in calcium and is also the most likely to be packed full of chemicals and additives.
Creamy and ever so tempting, Greek yoghurt is wonderful enjoyed in many different ways but it is much higher in fat than most other yoghurts out there. 150g of Greek Yoghurt provides 50% of the daily intake of saturated fats for women, so it’s one to be careful with. Despite the negatives, Greek yoghurt is a great source of vitamin A, more so than any other yoghurt type.
There are of course many other types of yoghurt on the market: soya yoghurts, great if you have a lactose intolerance or allergy; and coconut yoghurts, made wholly from coconuts, which have a great nutritional content.
There are plenty of options out there so it's not hard to avoid those yoghurts packed with additives, sugars and other nasties.
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