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Yoghurt is healthy, right? Well not always, says paediatric nutritionist, Mandy Sacher. Let’s find out which yoghurts are the best for your family.

Speaking about dairy at my workshops always raises lots of questions: How much dairy should my child be eating or drinking? Is low fat or full fat/whole milk best? Why is organic a better option?

Confusing

These days our supermarket shelves are laden with so many options, it can be really confusing for parents to pick out the best quality dairy products for their children.

But more and more we are learning that the closer food is to its pure, natural form the better, and yoghurt is no exception. Most yoghurts aimed at children are high in added sugars. One squeezie yoghurt can contain up to five teaspoons of sugar, and in my practice I see children who consume two to three squeezie yoghurts a day.

Introduce Natural Yoghurt Early On

Plain natural yoghurt, if introduced early, can be one of the best ways to stretch your child’s flavour range to include sour foods. Even if your child already prefers sweetened yoghurt, encourage them to try natural yoghurt with a drizzle of raw honey or pureed fresh fruit, or add natural yoghurt to smoothies in place of milk.

Mandy’s tips for choosing yoghurt:

  • Choose organic natural, full cream yoghurts or natural preservative-free yoghurts.
  • Choose yoghurts with added probiotics to promote gut health.
  • Try natural yoghurts made with different milks and also vegan versions like coconut yoghurt without any additives.

Below is a breakdown of most of the different types of yoghurt you will come across on the shelves and my picks for the healthiest ones to choose.

SHEEP’S MILK YOGHURT

This is a rich and creamy full-flavoured yoghurt. I often recommend weaning babies onto this yoghurt due to the fact it’s easier on the digestive system and high in fats which babies need.

GOAT’S MILK YOGHURT

This is a full-flavoured yoghurt with a slightly more pronounced gamey flavour. High in calcium, it may be easier to digest for some children. The best way to ensure your child likes this yoghurt is to introduce it from when they are babies, or for older children add it to homemade smoothies or frozen popsicles.

WHOLE MILK YOGHURT

The richest of the plain yoghurts, wholemilk yoghurt contains 6 to 8 grams of fat per cup. Some brands of wholemilk yoghurt, called farm-style, come with a layer of yoghurt cream on top.

GREEK YOGHURT

A thicker, creamier type of yoghurt, which has had the liquid removed so will have higher concentrations of fat and protein. Greek yoghurt is traditionally strained and has the whey removed, resulting in a thicker yoghurt. Always choose natural versions over ones with added sugar or fruit preserves.

NATURAL YOGHURT

No added flavours, sweeteners or preservatives.

FLAVOURED YOGHURTS

Added flavours, sugar, fruit, fruit concentrates (fructose) – it’s best to avoid starting your children on these from a young age. Rather add a teaspoon of raw honey and pureed or chopped fresh fruit to natural yoghurt.

POT SET

The ingredients used to make the yoghurt (milk and cultures) are added directly to the pot where it sets, removing the need for added thickeners or stabilisers.

LABNEH (LABNE)

This thick Middle Eastern yoghurt ‘cheese’ is smooth and creamy like sour cream. It is often eaten with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped mint, and served with pita bread.

SOY YOGHURT

Made from soy milk, this product has the texture and consistency of dairy yoghurt. It’s rare, however, to find a commercially available soy yoghurt free from added sugars and flavours. This is my least favourite alternative.

COCONUT YOGHURT

Made from coconut milk, it’s fast gaining popularity. It’s an excellent choice for children with dairy allergies or intolerances, however many of the quality brands available in health food stores come with a hefty price tag. If you want to make your own coconut yoghurt see our recipe on www.wholesomechild.com.au. Due to the coconut flavour, it is most often sweetened. My sweetener of choice is stevia, monkfruit or other fruits.

KEFIR

Kefir is my number one go-to dairy product for kids, although it can also be dairy free. This cultured yoghurt-like drink is naturally lower in lactose and provides greater natural probiotic properties for re-establishing healthy gut flora than yoghurt, and can help improve digestion in kids. It is a great choice for anyone with lactose intolerance, as lactic acid bacteria have already got to work digesting the lactose for you. As it ferments, it develops a complex matrix of beneficial microorganisms including yeast. It’s also rich in protein, calcium and B-vitamins. Look for it in health food stores or make your own using kefir grains.

3 easy ways to improve the quality of your child’s yoghurt

If your child is already eating sweetened yoghurts and squeezies, the following tips will help to make their yoghurt healthier:

  1. Blend your child’s favourite sweetened yoghurt with natural yoghurt. Start at a ratio of 3:1 and slowly decrease the sweetened yoghurt and increase the natural yoghurt. This simple step will reduce sugar by up to 50%.
  2. Let your child choose reusable squeezie pouches and fill with natural yogurt blended with a small amount of honey, pureed fruit or my apricot and cinnamon compote.
  3. Buy a small container and let your child decorate it with stickers. Blend natural yoghurt and their favourite fruit together, place in the container and freeze overnight. Remove from the freezer in the morning and by mid-morning it should be nice and slushy.

To learn more about Mandy Sacher please visit the Wholesome Child website. Her book “Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook” is available to purchase online and through iTunes, and you can connect with Mandy on Instagram and Facebook.

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  • That is very in depth, thank you.

    Reply


  • We love probiotic yoghurt and the good thing it is often on special.

    Reply


  • It’s getting more and more confusing to know what is best to eat. Great article

    Reply


  • Such a great article, thank you.

    Reply


  • We love yoghurt in our home – on it’s own as a snack, on muesli for breakfast, and in smoothies. I tend to choose the Natural and Greek yoghurts.

    Reply


  • I always read the nutritional panel on my food for my kids, saying that, I do give them treats as well so I’m not a nutrition devil.

    Reply


  • Sometimes it becomes too tricky to make the right food choices for your kids. There almost seems to be too much variety out there… and you almost need to be a nutritionist to know what’s a good choice!

    Reply


  • I make my own yoghurt and the kids have always loved it.

    Reply


  • A great article with some lovely yoghurt options. It can be hard to determine what is really good for you sometimes.

    Reply


  • I agree with this advice, kefir is the best. I make it since many many years. When they kids were little they didn’t like it so much and I just added some to organic natural yoghurt, slowly adding more. Instead of adding fruit or honey, I would suggest to add cinnamon. Cinnamon gives a beautiful taste, where as honey and fruits is still adding sugars and developing a sweet tooth.

    Reply


  • Thanks for all the info. I love natural yogurt and Greek yogurt. I make my own labne and it’s so good. I never buy fruit yogurt but prefer to add my own stuff to it.

    Reply


  • Thanks for the article,we love our greek yoghurt!

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  • I’ve tried various brands but now stick to the one that my daughter likes best.

    Reply


  • I spent ages reading the labels and my son didn’t initially like the healthy yoghurt but now he loves it.

    Reply


  • LAbne is a family favourite I make it all the time it’s delicious as a breakfast with a sprinkle of Zaatar (dried oregano)

    Reply

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