jim carperWhat happens when a good-for-you food like yogurt turns into a candy bar? My brain churns when I think of the desecration of this pure dairy food and two of my personalities come out. This month, Red State Jim and Blue State Jim share their points of view.

The world eats too much sugar

Blue State Jim: Yogurt, how could you? You used to be cool, a good-for-you nutrient-dense food. Now you are nothing more than a sugar bomb.

sugar in yogurts

Americans eat too much sugar. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in February noted that sugar “intakes still exceed the limit in the USDA food patterns” even though we are consuming less.

The world eats too much sugar. In March, the World Health Organization found “solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay.”

It is important to note that the WHO does not refer to the sugars naturally present in milk (or fruits and vegetables, for that matter) “because there is no reported evidence of adverse effects of consuming these sugars.”

Why do dairy processors ruin a perfectly health snack with 8 grams of protein and no fat (or low fat) by loading it up with sugar? I know the answer is: That’s what consumers want. But the dairy industry can be better than that. You can lead by example. The Dannon Co. and Yoplait (a division of General Mills) are doing just that. Both have pledged to reduce sugars in the yogurts they market to children and adults. Time will tell if these actions boost or decrease unit sales.

If we have to have sweetness, then we can slice a fresh strawberry or banana into nonfat plain yogurt. That’s a lot less sugar, plus we gain fiber.

In summary, sugaring up yogurt is just not right. Leave that to ice cream. It’s like this:  your kid’s college professor can curse and smoke marijuana. But these are activities you would never allow from your other child’s kindergarten teacher. Keep yogurt pure.

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Labels give me the facts about sugar in yogurt. That's enough for me

Red State Jim: You go, yogurt. 

Yogurt processors have cracked the daypart code. They make yogurts for breakfast, lunch and dessert. Yogurt is a snack for mid-mornings and afternoons, and it is an ingredient in dips, sauces and baked goods.

Other dairy processors must be jealous. Ice cream? It’s just a dessert. Cottage cheese (the broccoli of dairy foods)? It’s just a diet food. Milk? If only someone would drink it.

Last time I checked, America is a free country. So just give me the facts (which government requires anyhow on the nutrition facts panel) and I’ll make my own decisions about what I eat or drink, OK?

The label says 33 grams of sugar? Thank you for that. Now I can decide whether I want to eat this yogurt for dessert or after my workout. As the DGAC itself points out, it’s not about the individual foods we eat; it’s about the dietary approach we follow (including exercise). Sugary yogurt is one food out of many I’ll eat in a day. If I have some sugar now, I’ll cut back later.

It’s bad enough that the good nutrition types hector us constantly about what not to eat. But don’t let sugar blind you to yogurt’s benefits. A serving delivers calcium, protein and other needed nutrients.

Besides, no one is forcing me to buy the sugared variety. There are plenty of plain varieties on the market with no added sugars as well as low-sugar choices. But if you think I’ll be slicing fresh fruit into nonfat yogurt, you are living in a dream world. The word in the food industry is “convenience.” I want my food prepared and road-ready (that is, to go).

 Trust the free market. We don’t need restrictive regulations about sugar. The government has mandated ample nutrition information. Let me take it from there.