Be Sugar SMART with Yoghurts

The choice of yoghurts available today on the shop shelf is huge. Choosing the healthiest yoghurt is often difficult as you will see “0% fat”, “Fat-Free”, Diet Yoghurt”, “Sugar-Free”, “Reduced Sugar” and other versions but what do they all mean and how do I choose the healthiest option for me?


Diabetes Ireland in conjunction with UL dietetic students developed a new resource to help people make healthier choices when selecting yoghurts to eat.


The short video explains the differences between the various Yoghurt options, what the branding means, and what to look for on the label which together will enable you to make the best choice of yoghurt for you.


To access the “Healthy Yogurts” video, see



SUGAR In 2015 the WHO (World Health Organisation) published guidelines on sugar intake for adults and children saying that no more than 10% of a person’s energy (calories) should come from ‘free’ sugars. Maintaining health, equates to


 10-14 teaspoons of sugar per day for an average adult


Sugar Measurement




So, what about sugar in yoghurts?

Milk and yoghurts are classed separately. When we look at the food labels, we will see that all yoghurts contain some sugar. This is because milk and milk products have the naturally occurring sugar ‘lactose’. Generally, natural yoghurt contains about 5g ‘sugars’ per 100g (approximately one teaspoon), and when we look at yoghurts with a higher sugar content than this, the higher number is down to additional sugars which have been added by the manufacturer. So, looking at flavoured yoghurts we can see how they fare per 100g.



Cut-offs used to describe characteristics of ‘Healthier Choice yoghurts  (per 100g)


Characteristics of a 'Healthier Choice' yoghurtCut-off
Low in total fat <3 g
Low in saturated fat<1.5 g
Low in sugar

<5 g ( for Natural yoghurts)
<9 g ( for Flavoured and Luxury yoghurts)



We must also look at how much of the item we are going to eat – the nutrition information for a small serving size might look okay, but if we are actually consuming more than is suggested on a regular basis, this can have an impact on our blood glucose levels and our weight. A standard serving size for yoghurt is 125g. Look at your favourite yoghurts and see if any of your regular choices contain more sugar than you had realised.


Choosing a healthy yoghurt…

  • Choose a plain, unflavoured, natural or Greek yoghurt.
  • Choose 0% fat or diet or fat-free varieties.
  • Be mindful of the portion sizes when choosing multi-packs or individual pots.


Be Yogurt Smart in the Kitchen

Yogurt provides a source of protein, calcium and micro-nutrients as well as live cultures. Including yoghurt as part of our recommended daily dairy servings supports children’s normal growth and development and helps us maintain bone health throughout life.


Many people will choose yoghurt as a snack or to finish off a meal, for example, natural yoghurt with a portion of stewed fruit. Try to choose plain unflavoured milk and yoghurts, with the flavoured ones kept for occasional consumption only. And, if buying individual items rather than a multi-pack, be mindful that the serving size may be larger in the individually packaged items. Aim for a serving of no more than 125g yoghurt.


And, don’t forget you can use natural yoghurt in your savoury choices too. Here are some ideas:


  • Substitute for mayonnaise when making coleslaw or creamy salad dressings.
  • Mix natural yoghurt with seasoning and chopped fresh herbs to give a light alternative to a sour cream dip. Perfect as an accompaniment to roasted vegetables or vegetable crudités.
  • Use tandoori spices as a marinade for chicken or fish.
  • Use as creamy style sauce for curry – see our recipe for coronation chicken.


Why not give our recipe for coronation chicken a go –