Home > Blog > Flavored Yogurt, Plain Yogurt and the Sugars That Make the Difference
By Kim Madsen, Registered Dietitian at Project Open Hand

Many of us enjoy yogurt for breakfast or a midday snack. It can be an easy and nutritious snack that is rich in calcium which makes it a frequent "go-to" healthy choice. But not all yogurts are equal in nutrition. Most flavored yogurts are high in added sugar which can contribute to weight gain and elevated blood sugar. 

What do we mean by added sugar? 

Added sugar is sugar that is increased in a recipe to food during processing that would otherwise not occur there, like in soda or flavored milk and yogurt. Added sugar is hard to avoid in processed foods. Many healthful foods, such as fruit or plain dairy, also contain sugars, but these sugars are naturally occurring and, in moderation, can be part of a healthy diet. Knowing how much sugar is added vs. how much is natural can be confusing- food labels do not differentiate and just list both under “sugar”. A good rule of thumb is that if an ingredient list includes sugar as one of the top five ingredients, then you can be sure that product is high in added sugar.

 Ingredients for flavored yogurt:                       Ingredients for plain yogurt:


The American Heart Association recommends that women eat no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) and men eat no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) a day of added sugar. Most fruit yogurts have about 26 grams of sugar while plain yogurts only have 8 grams- all of which are naturally occurring sugars from lactose. 

What can you do instead?

Stick to plain yogurt and sweeten it yourself!

Make your own fruit yogurt by adding fresh, cut up fruit to plain yogurt. Stir a smashed, ripe banana into yogurt. Add fresh strawberries to make your own strawberry-banana yogurt.

Add your own sweetener such as honey, fruit jam/jelly, vanilla extract with honey, or even sugar. The sugar content will come out less when you do it yourself. You can slowly decrease the amount of sugar you add and you will get used to a less sweet yogurt.

  • 1 tsp of table sugar
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • 1 tsp of fruit jelly 

It's just as tasty, and twice as healthy!


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