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Are kids yoghurts doing more harm than good?

 
Many of us buy yoghurt for our kids because of the widely published health benefits it has, ranging from friendly bacteria to the amount of calcium it contains. But not all yoghurts are created equal! So how do we tell apart the ‘real’ yoghurts that offer health benefits from other ‘fake’ yoghurts that just taste good?
Many of us buy yoghurt for our kids because of the widely published health benefits it has, ranging from friendly bacteria to the amount of calcium it contains.

But not all yoghurts are created equal! Some types of yoghurt contain the same amount of sugar and additives as chocolate desserts.

So how do we tell apart the ‘real’ yoghurts that offer health benefits from other ‘fake’ yoghurts that just taste good?
 

Real yoghurt vs fake yoghurt

 

Real yoghurt


Real or ‘live’ yoghurt is made from milk or milk products that are fermented by yoghurt cultures and often referred to as pro-biotics or friendly bacteria. The cultures are still active at the time of consumption.

Real yogurts not only contain probiotics (such as lactobacillus acidophilus), but they are started from them rather than having them added at the end.

Real yoghurts have many health benefits including, amongst others:
 
  • Probiotics can be excellent remedies for diarrhoea and rotovirus in infants.
 
  • Probiotics are now being shown to strongly improve allergy responses in children, especially those who suffer from eczema.
 
  • Probiotics are commonly added to infant formulas with the added benefit of softening stools.
 
  • Real yoghurts are low in lactose. Probiotic bacteria make substances that can breakdown the lactose in the yoghurt.
 
  • Probiotic bacteria can put back the good bacteria after antibiotics or even after a tummy upset.
 

Fake yoghurt


So when is yoghurt not really a healthy choice?

When it is a sweet tasting treat that’s more like a dessert than yoghurt; often found in pots endorsed with kids’ favourite characters.

'Fake yoghurts' are usually no more than cow’s milk thickened with sugar, fruits and other ingredients.

Few of these types of yoghurts provide any nutritional benefit to our kids.

Some yoghurts may say that they have “added friendly bacteria” but essentially it amounts to the same thing.

Manufacturers regularly add bacteria to their products, rather than making it from live cultures, to encourage us to buy their products. However the bacteria often doesn’t survive long enough in the pot to see the inside of your little one’s tummy.

Fake yoghurts also contain high quantities of sugar or hidden sugars which can lead to tooth decay from an early age.
 

Which yoghurts should we buy?


There are so many different types of yoghurt in the supermarkets these days, it’s not always an obvious choice.

Some come packaged in pots of all shapes and sizes and some now come in squeezable tubes or pouches.

However if you read the ingredients labels on the yoghurt pots you’ll be able to compare them and start to notice the vast differences between them.

For instance:
 
  • The number of ingredients they contain (more is not always better!).
 
  • The order ingredients appear on the panel (the ingredients at the top of the list are usually the ones with the greatest quantity).
 
  • The thickeners, additives and flavourings etc that have been added.
  
  • Look out for hidden sugars too, such as sucrose, glucose, lactose, fructose, sorbitol, mannitol, corn syrup, honey, malt, malt extract, maltose, rice extract, molasses, golden syrup and invert sugar.
 
  • Opt for plain or real yoghurts when you first give them to your little one, to help avoid them getting hooked on the sweeter ones. Give them cartoon-endorsed yoghurts as a treat rather than an everyday addition to their lunchbox.
 
  • Children under two should eat whole-fat yoghurts rather than low fat yogurts, diet yoghurts or those with any hidden sugars.
 
  • Try buying Greek, plain or natural yoghurt for your kids and adding some frozen berries to it for a healthy snack idea. As the berries start to defrost they will sweeten the yoghurt enough that they’ll love it.
 

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