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October 23, 2016
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All is Not Fair in Love of Yogurt

One of the favorite foods that pops up on many of our personal "diabetes-friendly" or "healthy-eating" lists is Greek Yogurt. Not the standard store-brand, blended, full of added sugars and fruit jam with 6 grams of protein and 34 grams of carb yogurt, but the thick, may-not-even-have-fruit-on-the-bottom, tangy, high-protein stuff that costs twice as much and is marketed under brands like Chobani, Fage, and so on. Even if these yogurts are not reduced- or no-fat, they tend to have mostly whole/real ingredients, contain 20-25 grams of protein per cup, and less than half the carbs of the usual two-for-a-dollar stuff.


Unfortunately, any time there is an upswing in consumption for a quality (or even gourmet) food, there is a rush to bring to market less expensive versions aimed at a less affluent population looking to get the same nutritional benefits. So in addition to the brands above, we have Stonyfield Farms' and Dannon's Oikos, as well as entries from Cabot, Yoplait, and a number of store brands all sporting the name, and touting the benefits of, Greek Yogurt.


A recent trip to the supermarket proved to me that sadly, not all Greek yogurts are the same especially not to people with diabetes.


The nutritional value per cup of plain nonfat Greek yogurt is 20-24 g protein, 6-10 g carb for most of the traditional brands. As we add flavors, the protein content goes down and the carb content goes up.


My usual choice of Greek yogurt is Chobani non-fat vanilla for breakfast with fresh fruit and ground flax seed, non-fat plain as a substitution for sour cream, heavy cream, or butter in certain dishes (there is even a conversion chart), and whatever non-fat or low-fat version I can find in cups for carrying to work.


Even for that seemingly innocent vanilla yogurt, the nutritional value can be deceiving. While both my Chobani and Stonyfield Farms' Oikos sport 170 calories, 18 g carb (mostly sugar), and 22 g protein, a cup of Dannon's Oikos has 29 g carb (including 27 g sugar) and only 17 g protein. Voskos a "luxury" brand has 30 g carbohydrate and 18 g protein. Yoplait's plain Greek yogurt might have taken the proverbial cake, with as many carbs as Chobani, with less protein if it weren't for Cabot whose dairy goods are usually very healthy, and their herds well cared-for sporting 220 calories and 33 g carb per cup of low-fat Vanilla Greek yogurt. (Note that not all brands sell fat-free or nonfat varieties.)


Obviously carbs and calories aren't the whole picture. Shop-Rite's Greek Yogurt is gluten-free, as is Voskos (at least their vanilla yogurt) a crucial factor for anyone living with celiac disease. Food allergies, or intolerances to certain ingredients, may force you to eliminate one or more otherwise-desirable brands. For most of us, though, living with diabetes means that those carbs and calories are an issue and once again, the nutrition labels are our friends.


And about that supermarket trip? I had a coupon for Cabot dairy products. Needless to say, I'm going to save it for their reduced-fat cheeses.

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