We’ve all seen it play out at the park: After a kid proclaims their hunger, the “bad” mom pulls a cookie out of her pocket, while the “good” mom reaches into her cooler and provides a wholesome strawberry yogurt. But don’t be so quick to judge. A new report issued by the Cornucopia Institute has shown that many major dairy producers promote their products as health food when they’re anything but.
The report (accompanied by a lawsuit) accuses the mega-corporations that market such yogurt brands as Chobani, Yoplait and Dannon not only of playing up dubious health benefits, but also concealing ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and flavors, stabilizers and preservatives. On top of that, fruit flavors sometimes contain no actual fruit, and all varieties except plain contain sugar levels comparable to those of a candy bar. And the yogurts that don’t suffer from such high sugar levels usually compensate with artificial sweeteners—which have been shown to contribute to metabolic syndrome—or highly processed “natural” sweeteners made from stevia and monk fruit.
According to Cornucopia’s research, the best option for health-conscious yogurt lovers is usually organic or yogurt with the lowest amount of ingredients. Organic Valley, Straus Family Creamery and Pavel’s receive high marks in these departments. While mainstream brands boast of their products’ live and active culture levels, organic brands contain higher levels of good bacteria and fats as well as more beneficial ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.