Before You Reach For Yogurt
Do you really know what is in the yogurt you eat? Homemade yogurt, made with raw organic milk, with active cultures is great for you. But commercial yogurt sold at the grocery store is not healthy at all.
A report, Culture Wars: How the Food Giants Turned Yogurt, a Health Food, into Junk Food, issued by The Cornucopia Institute, accuses Dannon, Yoplait, Chobani and other major marketers of misleading parents, who are looking for healthier foods for their families, into purchasing yogurts loaded with sugar and containing a myriad of questionably safe artificial sweeteners, colors and emulsifiers.
The Cornucopia Institute found that the flavored varieties (strawberry, for example) of certain brands contain no actual fruit, and include total sugars that rival those in candy bars.
Keep in mind that there is no such thing as “sugar free yogurt”. Yogurt itself in its natural state has lactose, a natural milk sugar and on top of that, many manufacturers will add another form of sweetener, either regular sugar or a sugar substitute like aspartame (also marketed as NutraSweet) or sucralose.
The use of aspartame is controversial and has been linked to brain tumors and neurological diseases in laboratory animals.
Plain yogurt naturally contains about 16 grams of sugar per cup. But if you eat flavored yogurt, you could be downing 15 or more additional grams of sugar, which is like shoveling in four extra teaspoonfuls (4 grams = 1 teaspoon).
A real eye-opener: Cornucopia’s report reveals many harmful ingredients that food manufacturer’s add to yogurt.
Harmful ingredients added to yogurt
- SWEETENERS – sugar; processed sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, and more. Also, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose.
HFCS-90 – This toxic additive is a variation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). However, it contains a much higher level of HFCS.
According to a long-term study at Princeton University, the effects of HFCS consumption is much more dangerous than other simple sugars such as sucrose. The study revealed that HFCS doesn’t just contribute to fat gain but actually increases obesity substantially which contributes to known health risk factors (high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and cancer).
Deceptively, yogurt manufacturers have listed HFCS-90 as “fructose” or “fructose syrup” which are terms that can be associated with natural sugars from fruit. The big difference is that it’s not!
- FRUCTOOLIGOSACCARIDES – neosugar and inulin.
Neosugar – This highly processed form of sugar cannot be digested by the human digestive tract. According to Cornucopia, food manufacturers market it as a “prebiotic” or “natural dietary fiber” because it supposedly feeds the microorganisms in the digestive tract.
However, neosugar is processed from either sugar cane or sugar beets that are commonly genetically modified. Neosugar is sometimes labeled as “Nutraflora” and “Fructan.” Don’t these alternative names sound much healthier?
- THICKENERS – carrageenan, xanthan gum, modified corn starch, food starch, pectin, and gelatin.
Carrageenan – is a food additive extracted from red seaweed. For four decades, scientists have warned that the use of carrageenan is not safe for food consumption. Research has proven again and again its association with gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumors. Yet, manufacturers resist the removing of this ingredient in yogurt.
Some of the yogurts specifically aimed at young children, in squeezable tubes, are among the offerings containing carrageenan.
Pectin – comes from citrus peel, it may seem harmless. The truth of the matter is that the processing of pectin is what is actually harmful. This processing uses synthetic solvents such as ethanol, isopropanol, or hexane (a neurotoxin and hazardous air pollutant).
- DIMETHYLPOLYSILOXANE – Also known as “silly putty,” this silicone oil is widely used in restaurants as an anti-defoamer in oil fryers. It is also used during yogurt’s processing. However, it is not mentioned on the label even if residues remain in yogurt. While the World Health Organization declared the substance to be non-toxic, the FDA allows it to be preserved by formaldehyde which is a well-known irritant that induces oxidative stress and increases the risk of immune disease and cancer.
- NANOPARTICLES – titanium dioxide.
- COLORS – artificial colors, carmine color, annatto, and colors from conventional fruit and vegetables.
- FLAVORS – fruit-flavor without the fruit, artificial flavors, natural flavors, malic acid.
- Highly Processed, Synthetic Nutrients/Nutraceuticals – vitamins and minerals.
How To Choose A Healthy Yogurt?
Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome, recommends avoiding store yogurt and eating yogurt only that you’ve made yourself and fermented for a full 24 hours in order for the majority of the lactose (milk sugar) to be used up and sufficient strength of the probiotic cultures to become established.
One of the best and least expensive ways to get healthy bacteria through your diet is to obtain raw grass-fed milk and convert it to yogurt or kefir.
To your plain yogurt you could add: whole food sweeteners such as raw organic honey or maple syrup, for example. You can also add flavor without sweetening it up by adding some vanilla extract, or a squirt of lime or lemon juice. Whole berries or fruits are another obvious alternative.
When shopping for yogurt look for organic, grass-fed or pastured whole milk (not low-fat or skim).
If you want to know which commercial yogurts are healthy and which are not, refer to The Cornucopia Yogurt Buyer’s Guide. They released a related scorecard rating 114 brands and separating the truly healthy options from those that would be found on any dietitian’s shortlist of foods to avoid.
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