Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ben and Jerry’s joins Greek yogurt craze

Earlier this month, Ben and Jerry’s decided to capitalize on the Greek yogurt craze by rolling out a new line of frozen Greek yogurt in four flavors: strawberry shortcake, banana peanut butter, raspberry fudge chunk, and blueberry vanilla graham. With sales of Greek yogurt up more than 100 percent over the past three years, Ben and Jerry’s was banking on the fact that -- in spokesman Sean Greenwood’s words -- “Greek yogurt is just going crazy.”

Greek yogurt’s hot trend factor has a lot to do with its higher protein content and thicker, creamier consistency, due to a straining process used to remove the liquid whey.

But are the Ben and Jerry’s frozen Greek yogurts really more nutritious? Let’s do a little comparison: The frozen strawberry shortcake flavor Greek yogurt has 6 grams of protein, compared to 4 grams of protein in the company’s strawberry cheesecake flavor ice cream. The frozen yogurt contains 180 calories per 1/2 cup serving compared to 260 for the ice cream, and has 5 grams of fat compared to 14 grams for the ice cream.

But the sugar content doesn’t differ between the two products and is a whopping 23 grams -- more than what’s in a king-size Milky Way. Other frozen Greek yogurts, made by Stonyfield and Yasso, have fewer calories and less sugar (9 to 19 grams) than the Ben and Jerry varieties, though I’m not sure how the taste compares.

What’s important to realize is that just because the words “Greek yogurt” appear on the label doesn’t mean a product is nutritious or good for your waistline. You have to read the label to check calories, sugar, and fat content.

Added sugars are plentiful in a host of regular Greek yogurts -- including Chobani, a favorite in the Globe newsroom -- especially the fat-free varieties. “Yogurt is a big culprit of added sugar in the American diet,” said Tufts University nutrition professor Miriam Nelson.

Chobani nonfat vanilla yogurt -- which I eat every day -- packs 16 grams of protein but also 13 grams of sugar per six-ounce serving. That’s more sugar than what’s in a serving of Frosted Flakes or Captain Crunch. Chobani’s nonfat honey yogurt tops out at 20 grams of sugar per serving.

Fat can also be plentiful in these products. Fage’s full-fat Greek yogurt contains 16 grams of saturated fat — or 80 percent of your total daily allowance if you’re on a 2,000-calorie diet -- in just 7 ounces. (You’d get less saturated fat from a McDonald’s Big Mac and medium fries.)

Bottom line, said Nelson, is to read the label before buying. “Stick with plain, non-fat varieties and sweeten them yourself by adding a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup,” she recommended. And slice in your own fresh peaches or berries.

Dehorah Kotz

Source: Boston.com

*Thank you Katerina S. for the information! 

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