At Packed, we’re all about delicious, nutritious and real food. We also know firsthand that as parents, the faster you can get those lunchboxes ready, the better! Squeezie yoghurts were something I used to regularly include in my boys lunchboxes. I knew they probably weren’t great, but I didn’t realise that some of them contain 83% of their daily recommended sugar intake in one serve (I’m looking at you Chobani!). Yikes!
I know these products are really popular because they’re convenient and they look like they should be healthy. So which ones are the better choices? Yoghurt contains naturally occurring sugar in the form of lactose that is not detrimental in the way that fructose is, so we have deducted 4.7g/100g from each of the sugar totals. You can read more about how to calculate sugar content here. The World Health Organisation recommends just 3 teaspoons or 12.6g of ‘free’ sugar per day for children (all sugars other than those naturally present in fully unrefined foods such as brown rice or fruit).
To compare apples with apples, so to speak, we chose the strawberry flavoured squeezie/pot options in commonly available supermarket brands: Vaalia, Mainland Organic, Five AM, Rafferty’s Garden (strawberry, apple and beetroot), Rokeby Farms, Chobani and Tamar Valley. We also looked at Barambah Organic (not available in the larger supermarkets).
The worst offenders
Some of the findings were pretty surprising. For example, just one serve of Vaalia contains 16g of sugar (9.4g added or 74% of a child’s daily sugar intake), plus a handful of additives. Chobani yoghurt fares even worse, with 17g of sugar per serve (10.5g added or 83% RDI), plus several additives. Yet it looks so Swiss and natural!
It’s not just the sugar content we should be paying close attention to, but any suspicious-looking ingredients on the label. ‘Natural flavours’ are often included in the ingredient list. This vague term means a flavour originally derived from a plant or animal source that is ‘generally recognised as safe’. i.e. heavily processed, but better than the artificial ones that sometimes come from fun stuff like petroleum. True story.
Petit Miam, for instance, has a relatively low sugar content but a list of questionable added ingredients. A quick look at the Chemical Maze app confirmed that:
- Thickener 1442 may affect proper digestion of food. Gluten free individuals should avoid foods containing this ingredient, which is prohibited in infant food. Hands up if you’ve seen a little person sucking down one of these?!
- 341 is an additive that binds to calcium, reducing absorption. It is also prohibited in food for infants. I’m guessing you’re giving children yoghurt for the calcium, right? So…
Better options for you
Some of the healthier everyday yoghurt options are Tamar Valley, Rafferty’s and Barambah. Tamar Valley has a sugar content of only 3.4g (which makes me wonder whether they have already removed the lactose content from the label).
Rafferty’s sugar content is relatively low (9g per serve, 4.8g added), as is Barambah’s (8.8g, 4.1g added). None of these contain any suspicious ingredients. An even healthier lunchbox option is a serve of plain natural yoghurt (no added sugar) with a half-cup of fresh strawberries (3.5 grams naturally occurring sugar). This is a simple lunchbox snack that you can relax about and be sure your kids will love too.
I also love freezing fruit and natural yoghurt in icy pole moulds for a healthy summer dessert, or making yoghurt ‘bark’ by spreading natural yoghurt over baking paper and sprinkling in raspberries and flaked almonds before freezing. Yum.
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