Greek yogurt – A healthy choice?

I wish that false and/or misleading advertising was illegal. Further, I wish that only real and natural foods were available to us – it would solve a lot of our problems and ease the food consumption decision-making process. Instead, companies work to make food products better for you and tell you (overtly and covertly) that you are making a good decision for yourself and your family if you chose to consume their product. Healthy chips. Healthy crackers. Healthier yogurt.

Greek yogurt unveiled

If you watch TV, you have seen the commercial. Oikos Greek Yogurt. You know – the commercials with John Stamos! They advertise that by choosing Oikos Fruit on the Bottom Nonfat Greek Yogurt you are making a nutritionally sound choice. Are you? The advertisements insinuate that you will lose weight if you eat Greek yogurt rather than traditional yogurt.

Here are the Nutrition Facts for the Black Cherry flavor. No fat — hooray! 5 mg cholesterol — hooray! 12 g protein — hooray! TWENTY GRAMS of SUGAR — WHOA!! For anyone desiring to lose weight (i.e., fat), this should scream DANGER! Slow down!!

Further, they only list 5 vitamins and minerals. And all yogurts contain active cultures (sorry, Activia!)

Breaking down the facts

“The sugar is natural, from the fruit,” you say? Let me explore. A single serving container does not contain a full fruit serving. One serving of black cherries is one cup and boasts 22 grams of sugar. Knowing that the little blue cup cannot contain nearly a serving of real black cherries – where do those sugar grams come from? Ingredients four and five: sugar and fructose (sugar). Number six, modified corn starch, might as well be a sugar too. Guar Gum. Interesting.

Experts generally accept that the human body can process 2-3 teaspoons of sugar at one time, or per sitting. NOTE: processed sugars are dramatically more difficult for the body to process than natural sugars (i.e., straight from the source). 20 grams of sugar converts to 4 teaspoons. What happens to the other 2 teaspoons of sugar you have consumed? With proper nutritional timing, your body may use it to fuel your long run or intense physical activity. But the chances are that many individuals are eating yogurt as a snack while sitting at the work desk. Am I wrong? Before I get too distracted, what happens with the excess sugar? Your body converts excess sugar into fat. In other words, you have yourself a fattening, fat-free treat!

Still believe this is a sound nutritional snack? Sure, it is a BETTER choice.

A Greek yogurt proponent

Do not get me wrong. I LOVE Greek yogurt and have been eating it for years – since before it became cool and popular and companies started adding all the wonderful extras to make it more appealing. I buy plain 0-2% Greek yogurt (depends on the use). The less fat in a dairy product, the more processing and additives are required. Compare: 

I make my Greek yogurt more palatable by adding my own natural and good-for-me ingredients:

  • natural, local honey
  • peanut butter (peanuts as only ingredient)
  • raisins
  • fresh berries
  • homemade granola
  • and more!

Recommended daily sugar intake

I want to mention that eating one serving of this yogurt will fulfill 50-66% of the recommended daily sugar intake. The World Health Organization recommends that 10% percent of your total calories come from sugars. I have done the math for you:

1200 calories, 10% = 120 calories = 30 g of sugar
1300 calories, 10% = 130 calories = 32.5 g of sugar
1400 calories, 10% = 140 calories = 35 g of sugar
1500 calories, 10% = 150 calories = 37.5 g of sugar
1600 calories, 10% = 160 calories = 40 g of sugar
1700 calories, 10% = 170 calories = 42.5 g of sugar
1800 calories, 10% = 180 calories = 45 g of sugar
1900 calories, 10% = 190 calories = 47.5 g of sugar
2000 calories, 10% = 200 calories = 50 g of sugar
2100 calories, 10% = 210 calories = 52.5 g of sugar
2200 calories, 10% = 220 calories = 55 g of sugar
2300 calories, 10% = 230 calories = 57.5 g of sugar
2400 calories, 10% = 240 calories = 60 g of sugar

Better than traditional yogurt?

That is debatable. Greek yogurt contains more protein and fewer total carbohydrates. Traditional yogurt contains more calcium and adequate protein. A question to ask yourself, are you consuming yogurt as a protein product or as a dairy product? Which has the great benefit for you? Overall, traditional yogurt may still the healthier option of the two.

The bottomline…


No, this does not include vanilla (natural or not) yogurt.

Is Oikos Fruit on the Bottom Nonfat Greek Yogurt bad for you? No, not at all. Is it a healthful decision? Eh – I wouldn’t say that and it relates to my concerns surrounding the use of the terms healthy or healthful!

It is a BETTER decision.

Greek yogurt versus traditional yogurt? It depends on your individual dietary needs – I alternate and sometimes mix the two because additional benefits of traditional yogurt.