This article is about a few things, but it stems from when I had a client ask me about Greek Yogurt the other day. He said that he heard it was good for him, but in reading the ingredients (nice to know someone is listening!) he noted that the stuff he had in his hands was indeed not healthy. He then had the impression that greek yogurt was bad. Not true.
Greek yogurt is in fact, great! BUT (and this is the important part), like ALL foods in a package, you have to read the label! Greek yogurt itself, the good stuff, in the plain version, has ingredients that state: skim milk, bacterial cultures. That’s it. No fat, no trans fat, no crap, and 18 grams of protein in a 3/4 cup (175gram) serving. Compare to the same amount of regular yogurt and you will find only 6-8grams.
PLUS, you can use greek yogurt to replace the mayonnaise in potato salad (add a little mustard), or replace sour cream with it. It is amazing for breakfast with fresh fruit stirred into it with muesli cereal and some powdered stevia and almond slivers.
Back to my original point though, my friend grabbed a greek yogurt off the dairy shelf and found these ingredients: Skim milk, cream, active bacterial cultures, strawberry preparation (sugar, strawberries, corn starch, lemon juice concentrate, carrageenan, natural color, natural flavors). Now this once healthy idea … isn’t. In a mere 100gram serving, you find 1.5grams of fat, including .5 grams of hidden trans fats, and 11grams of sugar – similar to a bowl of Froot Loops!! (12g), and only 8 grams of protein (because they dropped the serving size down to get the trans fats below .5grams per SERVING, so they could claim ‘zero trans fats’, which is a marketing trick). And in this case… the trans fats are actually from the cream, and NOT that bad trans fat that we are avoiding from hydrogenated fats. To compare accurately, let’s do the math of bumping the serving size up from 1/3 cup (100g) to the same as the healthy greek yogurt at 3/4 cup (175g). That would make the flavoured greek yogurt have 158 calories, 14 grams protein, 2.63 grams of fat (.88 grams trans fat) and a whopping 19 grams of sugar per real world ‘serving’. This is now junk food, with protein.
Why would they do this? Somehow, marketing people are convinced that we cannot handle something plain and healthy, so they pump our products full of sugar to feed our addiction and ruin an otherwise healthy choice, but what bugs me, is that they do so under the disguise of ‘healthy food’.
The bottom line is this: you must read food labels, and that is precisely why my client called me to clear up the confusion.
Hitchhiking on my previous point, let me ask you a question: which is better for you; ‘Froot Loops’, or ‘Heart Smart Healthy Start’ cereal? Reading the label, we find that Froot Loops has 110calories, 1gram of fat (including a hidden 0.5 grams trans fat), and 12 grams of sugar in a 1 cup serving. Not great, but we kind of knew that right? The ‘Heart Smart’ cereal? In 1.25 cup serving, it has 230 calories, 2 grams of fat (including a hidden 0.5 grams trans fat), and (get this) 17 grams of sugar! Now, you might be thinking it is fruit sugar, or some other healthy sugar, but it isn’t. A read through the ingredients list shows sugar, glucose, corn syrup, modified corn syrup etc. as the top ingredients.
This sort of marketing manipulation goes on and on, and the real truth of it all is this: We MUST, as a society, read food labels for everything we buy that isn’t fresh.
Shop the perimeter of the grocery store: Fruits, vegetables, fresh meats, nuts and seeds, eggs, all that stuff is easy – it still comes in the original packaging! When you get to anything in a bag, container, box or can – you simply have to read the label. Just because it says ‘healthy’ – don’t buy it until you read the ingredients. If you cannot pronounce the ingredients and do not recognize them, move on.
The less chemicals you put in your body, the healthier you will be, we were simply not designed to do anything else! As for greek yogurt, it is absolutely fantastic! (If you get the right one).
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.