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The yogurt section in the dairy aisle has been expanding rapidly, with more spins on the creamy delight than you can shake a spoon at. The next time you’re adding yogurt to your shopping cart, here are some things to keep in mind as you scan the label.
All yogurts contain sugar. Yogurt is made from milk, which contains lactose, a natural sugar found in milk. It’s the added sugar — what the yogurt manufacturer brings to the mix — that buyers need to watch out for. Fruit-flavored yogurt and honey-flavored yogurt have more sugar than plain because of added sugars. If you read the ingredient list, you will see words like fructose and evaporated cane sugar, both of which are simply different names for sugar. A good rule of thumb: If a yogurt contains more than 20 grams of sugar per serving, it’s more of a dessert than a healthful snack.
These days, you can’t miss the yogurt aisle. Markets now have two, three or more cases designated to this creamy delight. But with so many choices, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and confused on which is healthiest.
Added vs. Natural Sugar
Before eyeballing any label, understand that you’ll find sugar in each any yogurt you pick up. Yogurt has natural sugar (called lactose) and unless it’s a plain variety it will also have sugar added for sweetness. The nutrition facts combine both the natural and added sugar under “sugars.” The only way to know if any sugar was added is to look at the ingredients list.
To keep in line with the recommendations from The American Heart Association, women should limit their sugar to no more than 6 teaspoons per day (or 100 calories’ worth) while men should eat a max of 9 teaspoons of sugar per day (or 150 calories). This means capping sugar to no more than 20 grams per serving, which would be about 2 teaspoons of added sugar.
Some brands use sugar substitutes instead of added sugar. This will help lower the total sugar amount–remember, you will still be getting natural sugar from the yogurt. I tend to shy away from those varieties and rather purchase a plain yogurt and flavor it myself with a touch of natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
These good bacteria are found in most yogurts help keep your digestive tract in working order. You can find the actual bacteria names under the ingredient list—look for words like L. acidophilus, L. casei, B. bifidum and B. Longum.
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Quick, easy, portable and healthy — yogurt is an all-around favorite snack. But with supermarket shelves stacked with the stuff, shopping for yogurt can get confusing. After some tasting and label reading, check out what we found.
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Let’s face it — most of us could do more for our bones. An estimated 44 million Americans are at risk for, or have, osteoporosis, a disease where bones become increasingly fragile and sometimes fracture. Though women are 4 times more likely to suffer from osteoporosis, men are affected as well. Exercise and some medications can help, but what you eat plays a vital role. Whether you’re worried or not, you can’t go wrong incorporating more of these foods into your daily routine.