This is how to read food labels

Reading food labels can be tricky, especially yoghurts! 

I hope this rundown will help you to choose a good quality yoghurt

Today some yoghurts are more like dairy-based deserts than yoghurt due to all the extra ingredients such as sugar, cream, thickeners, gums, starches, and flavours. So my advice is to always read the ingredients which are listed in descending order of weight (from most to least).

My top tips for reading the label :

  • Probiotic Power

Probiotic means ‘for life’ and with yoghurt, it refers to the live bacteria it contains, which help with digestion and gut health. But surprisingly, not all yoghurt actually contains ‘live and active cultures’, yep, you guessed it, some companies heat-treat yoghurt after culturing, which kills off bacteria to increase their shelf life!

The trick here? Look at the ingredients list to see what cultures they contain and pick brands that contain at least 100 million colony forming units (CFU’s).

  • Make calcium count

Yoghurt is a good source of bone-building calcium, but the amount can vary from brand to brand. Aim for one that has at least 10-15 percent of the daily value for calcium. From 9 years of age, we need approx 1,300mg daily, so over 103mg+ is good. Also, remember leafy greens are another source of calcium!

  • Do a sugar check

Trying to cut back on added sugar? Don’t rely only on the number of grams listed on the label. Yoghurt has a fair amount of naturally occurring milk sugar, aka lactose (about 9g in a 150g container of plain regular yoghurt, and about 7g in greek yoghurt). The overall sugar number listed on the packaging includes both natural and added sugars.  

My shortcut here? Avoid any product that lists sugar as the first or second ingredient.

  • Beware of fruit yogurt

Personally, I don’t like yoghurt which comes with fruit. The main reason is that the sugar in the fruit added, will reduce the number of probiotics, as well as that, some companies don’t even use real fruit! I prefer to add your own fresh fruit to plain yoghurt but if you are of fruit yoghurt persuasion, then use the above rules to help you choose.

  • Don’t fear the fat

Opting for nonfat yoghurt can help you keep calories and saturated fat in check. However, be warned, “nonfat” doesn’t always mean low in calories as most have added sugar. So check the amount of sugar using the rule above and keep an eye out for low sugar numbers.


Brief explanation of the different types of yoghurt 

All yoghurts start with the same raw ingredient – MILK – and the difference is made during the processing:

Greek yoghurt is strained more times, which results in taking out the liquid whey, leaving the yoghurt thick and creamy.  Generally, Greek yoghurt has higher protein content and lower calcium levels, along with a higher saturated fat count which helps makes it thick and creamy (up to 7g compared to 4g in plain yoghurt). Conducting my research in one of the leading supermarkets, I noticed that a lot of the Greek yoghurt brands had the same amount of calcium as plain yoghurt – this is achieved by adding cream as the second ingredient.

Pot set yoghurt starts with milk and live cultures which are added straight to the pot. Brands claim the process avoids thickeners being added (such as gelatine) and that’s fine if the ingredient list is clean.

Natural (plain) yoghurtYoghurt without flavouring or added sugar.

Biodynamic yoghurtAn ethical-ecological approach to agriculture that focuses on the relationship between soil, plants, and animals. Like organic, it emphasises sustainability and does not involve chemicals in production.


Quick Product Review

I took myself and my camera into a leading supermarket today and took a photo of the ingredients listed on the back of 3 different yoghurts. I will call them A, B and C (for legal reasons, the brands can’t be identified), however, I have included the back of the labels. So without reading the next few lines and armed with the information above which one you would buy?

Yoghurt label Nutrition that fits sydneymum yoghurt label nutrition that fits sydneymumfood labels nutrition that fits sydneymum



My summary :

  • Yoghurt A – Clean ingredients, high calcium, but no info on how many probiotics. I called support line but no answer – have emailed them.
  • Yoghurt B – Adds cream to get the high Calcium
  • Yogurt C – Best out of the 3 – my buy.

Until next month, enjoy the warmer weather and fresh food!


M: 0416 111 323

Author: Marie Holland

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