Tricks of the Trade: The Health Mystique of Yogurt

My “tricks of the trade” pieces focus on approaches that I use to stay healthy that other professionals may find useful.

As I was checking out at the grocery store today, I couldn’t believe how many containers of yogurt the person in front of me had purchased.  I often times forget that many people are completely fooled into thinking yogurt is a health food.  Most yogurts are sweetened with added sugar, but also sometimes use honey, molasses, lactose, fructose, fruit concentrates, corn syrup, and my worst enemy: high fructose corn syrup.  Now, there are some yogurts that are plain with no added sweeteners, so if you are going to have yogurt, this is the way to go. However, very few people eat it that way. They usually have to throw in some sweet tasting granola or something like that to liven it up.  I would suggest fresh, whole fruit if you need to add anything.

Yogurt has been the fastest-growing dairy product in the United States for decades.  I think the popularity of yogurt really surged back during the “low-fat” era – that period of time where everyone thought that you could pretty much eat anything, as long as it was low-fat.  Now we know better.  One of yogurts big selling points are the “live, active cultures” that it contains.  That’s great, but you can get that in a chewable probiotic with zero calories.  It comes as no surprise that companies with vested interests in promoting the health benefits of dairy foods sponsor scientific conferences and studies on probiotics.

I think another attraction to yogurt is the fact that it has some protein in it.  People that are on-the-go think that they need more protein and this is a healthy way to get it.  And when I say some protein, I mean, not much.  A serving of regular yogurt contains less protein than Greek yogurt which can have an average of around 15 grams per serving.  I say a better (and cheaper) way to go is a handful of almonds, nuts, or some kind of seed.  They pack protein while being lower in calories, have no sugar, and contain healthy fats which tend to leave you feeling more satisfied.

My last issue with yogurt (besides the fact that it tastes gross and I can’t stand the texture)  is the fact that many of them can be very acidic.  Diets that are high in  acidic foods can lead to health problems like acid reflux and recurrent infections.  Certain types of bacteria and other organisms love to live and thrive in acidic environments.  I often recommend to people who suffer from chronic sinus and other infections that they try to cut back on acidic foods in their diet to see if it helps.

There are certainly worse foods than yogurt, but to me, it’s just not worth the cost and sugar. I think the companies producing it have certainly done a great job dressing it up and selling it as a health food.  I’m not buying it though.

5 thoughts

  1. I make my own yogurt from low-fat milk. Sometimes I even use goats milk, which yields a nutty creamy yogurt – delicious!. I add no sugar. I sweeten with fruit or stevia – sometimes a little maple syrup or honey (but not often). Yogurt contains probiotics – good bacteria. These help the gut function at top efficiency. I agree the store-bought yogurts often contain too much sugar and other unwante chemicals. But that doesn’t make YOGURT the problem. Unsweetened (homemade) Yogurt is a super food!

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