Yogurt label-reading tips
- Look for "skim milk" or "yogurt" as the first ingredient. After all, that's what you expect you're getting, right?
- Pay attention to the serving size. Most Stonyfield and Yoplait varieties, Dannon Fruit on the Bottom and some Dannon All Natural flavors come in 6-ounce containers. Dannon Activia, some other Dannon varieties and Yoplait multipacks are packaged in 4-ounce containers. Stonyfield's Oikos Greek yogurt comes in 5.3-ounce servings, DanActive in 3.3-ounce containers. If you buy yogurt in a 32-ounce bulk container, the nutrition info may be for an 8-ounce or a 6-ounce serving.
- The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends choosing yogurt with no more than 0.25 grams of saturated fat per ounce (that's a max of 1.5 grams of saturated fat per 6-ounce container) and no more than 5 grams of sugar per ounce (a max of 30 grams of sugar per 6-ounce container). Yogurts that meet these guidelines include Dannon Activia, Dannon Light 'n Fit and Yoplait Light.
- Compare calories carefully. Breyers Fruit on the Bottom and its Smooth & Creamy in strawberry each have 170 calories per cup, compared to 80 calories in its Light version of the same flavor. Six ounces of Dannon's strawberry Fruit on the Bottom or vanilla is 150 calories, compared to 100 calories for plain low-fat and 80 calories for plain nonfat.
- Yogurt labeled "light" or "lite" typically uses either sucralose or aspartame instead of sugar to cut down on calories. Some brands, such as Yoplait Light, use high-fructose corn syrup and aspartame. High-fructose corn syrup has been linked to an increased rate of obesity, and some research suggests it may cause more weight gain than other types of sweeteners. As for sugar substitutes, some people can't tolerate certain kinds, other people just prefer a particular kind, and some recent research suggests that artificial sweeteners may also promote weight gain. Read labels to know exactly what type of sweetener you're getting.
Reviewed by Susan Janoff, MS RD LD/N