Is Sugar in Yogurt Bad for You?

A good source of protein and calcium, yogurt is a healthy addition to your diet. Like most things, however, moderation is key when it comes to eating certain types of yogurt. Though it contains some naturally occurring sugars, it can also contain a large amount of added sugar, which is something you need to limit in your daily diet.

A bowl of blueberry yogurt. (Image: IngridsI/iStock/Getty Images)

The Sugars in Yogurt

The milk used to make yogurt contains naturally occurring sugar called lactose, which is considered a nutritious part of your daily diet when consumed in moderation. Because it's a naturally occurring sugar, lactose isn't refined or processed like added sugars are. Most yogurts, however, contain added sugar. For example, the average fruit-flavored yogurt can contain close to 32 grams of sugar per 6-ounce serving, though nutrition labels don't reveal how much of that is added sugar.

Added Sugar

Though yogurt is usually viewed as a nutritious addition to your diet, watching your intake of added sugar is a smart move. Added sugar drives up the calorie count of foods, and consistently consuming too many calories can lead to weight gain. When you're overweight, you're at a higher risk for developing heart disease and other chronic medical problems, according to the American Heart Association.

Daily Sugar Limits

The American Heart Association recommends women consume fewer than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day and that men have no more than 9 teaspoons a day. Yogurt labels show sugar content in grams, and 6 teaspoons is equal to 24 grams of sugar and 9 teaspoons is equal to 36 grams. This means that the average 6-ounce serving of fruit-flavored yogurt already exceeds the daily limit for women and comes close to the daily limit for men.

Yogurt in Your Diet

Dairy foods, including yogurt, are a smart addition to your diet because they contain protein and bone-building calcium. Eating dairy foods might also decrease your risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes, as well as help lower your blood pressure, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov. Plain yogurt is usually lower in added sugar than fruit- or vanilla-flavored versions, making it a better choice in terms of added sugar content. A 6-ounce serving of plain yogurt contains slightly less than 12 grams of sugar, which is less than half that of the average fruit-flavored yogurt.

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