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Yogurt: Superfood or Marketing Hype?

Greek yogurt has takeHE_strawberry-Greek-yogurt_s4x3n over the yogurt scene. Its sales have more than doubled over the past years, according to Euromonitor International.  There are so many brands creating new lines, how is one to know what they should choose?  Notably, since there is no government regulations of what can be labeled “Greek“.

Yogurt, especially Greek is categorized as a healthy food because it has double the amount of protein than traditional yogurt, great nutritious content, probiotics, calcium, potassium, magnesium and others when plain, but what about when it is flavored. Food producers have capitalized on the healthy perception of yogurt and are trying to promote it to become a larger part of the American lifestyle.

There are several trends that have produced the on going yogurt wars.  The desire for better health and healthier, superior food products has prompted food producers to great creative.  “Brands are looking for new ways to continue driving consumption, private label supply is tight but growing,” said Chris Solly CEO of Ehrmann USA,  “it is clear that brands need to bring true innovation to the category to maintain consumer interest.”  Consumers will see some new advertisements from yogurt producers this year during the Super Bowl.  Dannon will be showing ads during Super Bowl to make up for some loss ground that Chobani gained this past year when it took over the yogurt scene as America’s number-one yogurt brand.  “2014 is the year of the yogurt wars,” said McGuinness, Chobani’s chief marketing officer.  Chobani will also be showing its own ad:

In order to go beyond breakfast, food producers have explored other areas like dessert to sell more products.  Dozens of different flavors have hit the shelves, but are they sill nutritious? Flavors such Apple Pie, Caramel Macchiato, or Vanilla Chocolate Chuck are obviously going to be sweeter but even fruits like peach, strawberry, and blueberry can contain much more sugar than plain.  Not all yogurts are equal.  Both Dannon and Chobani make claims that they produce healthy products.  Even though Chobani markets itself as being “natural” consumers still have to watch out for added sugars.  Yes, evaporated cane juice is natural but it’s still added sugar, I’m looking at you Chobani.

Flavored Greek yogurt can contain as much sugar as 15 to 25 grams per serving.  The better option is to choose plain and add your own fresh fruit or drizzle of honey.  If you still prefer flavored yogurt, registered dietitian Maria Bella recommends making your choice based on the ingredients list; the first three ingredients should be milk, live and active cultures, and fruit, sugar should come near the end of the list.   Next time you purchase yogurt check out the nutrition label, that my be changing soon, and try to pick one out that has a lower sugar content.  Check out these myths about Greek yogurts so you can be more informed next time you go shopping.

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Changes To Out Of Date Nutrition Labels

imagesThe use of nutrition labels has changed over the past twenty years, where as the products that they are posted on have drastically changed forms.  It wasn’t until 1990 that food producers were required on most prepared and packaged food.  Much more prepared packaged food has been lining the shelves of  grocery stores.  Notably over the past few years consumers have become more vested in what exactly they are putting into their bodies. A study done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed a sinificant rise in the percentage of working-age adults who look at labels either most of the time or always when shopping, up from 34% in 2007 to 42% as well as from 51% of Americans older than 68 to 57%.

The Food and Drug Association has announced that it will be updating nutrition labels, though any specific details are unknown at this time.  The FDA said that knowledge about nutrition has evolved over the last 20 years, and the labels need to reflect that.  Guidelines have been sent to the White House but it is unknown when they might been released.  Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, said the FDA has been working on this issue for a decade.

A few popular suggested changes by health advocates include
Emphasize calorie counts
Put added sugar on its own line
clearer definition of serving size
added percentage of whole wheat
clearer measurements, getting rid of grams

It is not clear what changes the FDA could decide on but it is clear that changes needed to be made.  Hopefully changes will be made as soon as possible so consumers can become more knowledgeable about what type of products they are consuming.