The trend of adding a “hot” ingredient to a food to attract more consumers is definitely nothing new. It has happened in the past (and continues to) with oats, flaxseeds, omega-3 fatty acids, and acai berries, to name a few. Unfortunately I feel sometimes this is more of a marketing ploy than an opportunity to really enhance a product’s nutritional value.
The latest craze is Greek yogurt, and it seems like almost every food company wants to join this bandwagon. A typical 6-ounce container of low-fat plain Greek yogurt provides 130 calories, 17g protein, 7g sugar, and 200mg calcium (10 percent of the daily value). It is not surprising that it is so popular, especially among nutrition experts, with this nutrition profile. But a lot of the new products that use Greek yogurt as an ingredient don’t even come close to these numbers.
One product I found, a trail mix that features Greek yogurt front and center on the packaging, fails in comparison. One serving has 160 calories, 3g protein, 12g sugar, and 80mg calcium. The yogurt actually comes in the form of “Greek yogurt drops,” with the first ingredient of these being sugar. Probiotics were added to this trail mix since obviously there isn’t much real Greek yogurt to begin with.
Another product was a granola bar. Again, Greek yogurt front and center, but if you read closely, you will see that it is a “coating” of yogurt. One bar contains 160 calories, 7g protein, 11g sugar, and 80mg calcium. As far a granola bar goes, its nutritional package is pretty good, especially since it had 5g fiber. If this bar didn’t advertise the Greek yogurt, I would have liked it a whole lot better, since to me the claim is misleading.
Lastly I found a cereal that wanted to join in. One serving provides 230 calories, 5g protein, 13g sugar, and only 40mg calcium. The list of ingredients on this package were so long and included so many things that you would not find in a typical yogurt container. The Greek yogurt itself was in a powder form, something that I am not even familiar with.
What’s the lesson here? Don’t always believe what you read front and center. Turn the package over and read the nutrition facts label and ingredients list closely. And in the case of Greek yogurt, at least for now, buy plain, go grab your spoon, open up your container, and pile on the berries.