Greek yogurt hijacked!

PostCerealGreek style yogurt — health halo, right?

Greek yogurt is typically low fat (or non-fat), contains live cultures of healthy bacteria and is very high in protein.  The actual yogurt, that is.

Don’t look for that in the cereal aisle.   Products like Post Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Mixed Berry are using the Greek yogurt Health Halo to sell cereal that has mere smidgens of something called Greek yogurt powder.  It’s buried way at the end of the ingredients list, a sure sign that there isn’t much of it.  One of the ingredients in this cereal is “Greek Yogurt Granola”.  Here’s what that’s made of:

Greek Yogurt Granola [Whole Grain Rolled Oats, Brown Sugar, Rice Flour, Canola And/Or Sunflower Oil, Milk Protein Concentrate, Corn Syrup, Sugar, Greek Yogurt Powder (Heat Treated After Culturing), Wildflower Honey, Color (Red Beet And Elderberry Juice Concentrate, Raspberry Powder), Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Strawberry Juice Concentrate]

So in other words, there are more sugar sweeteners in this Greek granola than Greek yogurt powder.  Another ingredient is listed as “Berry flavored Greek yogurt style coated granola”.  It’s made with “Berry Flavored Greek Yogurt Style Coating” that’s primarily sugar and palm oil, with a little of that Greek yogurt powder.

One of the benefits of yogurt is the live bacterial cultures.  Do the live probiotic bacterial cultures survive the powdering process?  That’s a big unknown.  The cereal products don’t make any label claims about probiotic cultures.

NutrigrainHere’s an even more offensive example of Greek yogurt hijacking: Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Strawberry Greek Yogurt bars.  There’s a creamy pink filling.  Looks like yogurt, right?

FILLING: INVERT SUGAR, GLYCERIN, FRUCTOSE, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, PALM OIL, GREEK YOGURT POWDER; HEAT-TREATED AFTER CULTURING (NONFAT MILK SOLIDS, CULTURE, LACTIC ACID, NATURAL FLAVOR), STRAWBERRY PUREE CONCENTRATE, MODIFIED TAPIOCA STARCH, MALIC ACID, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, CELLULOSE GEL, SALT, COLOR ADDED, DATEM, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, RED 40.

No, it may look like yogurt, but it’s mostly sugar and vegetable fats, with a dash of that “Greek yogurt powder”.  And the pink strawberry color is enhanced by Red dye #40.

I really hate it when the reputation of perfectly healthy food is exploited like this.  My take-away message: if you want the health benefits of Greek style yogurt, including protein, calcium and live probiotic cultures, eat real yogurt.

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