Is Almond Yogurt the Better Choice?
While it may be hard to spot in the ever expanding yogurt section of your supermarket, a newcomer has recently joined the lineup. One made with almond milk.
Almond milk is becoming an increasingly popular option for consumers. This nutty beverage is largely chosen because it tends to be lower in calories and unhealthy fats than dairy or soy milk, or simply because it is a plant-based calcium-rich option that comes free of any concerns regarding added hormones, antibiotics, or animal cruelty.
As consumption of almond milk continues to rise, manufactures are taking notice, as additional almond-based dairy products are now becoming main-stream... most recently in the form of yogurt.
What Is Almond Yogurt?
Almond milk is made from almonds and water, and this is used to create the yogurt - a creation often complete with added healthy bacteria and vitamin D.
Just the Facts
Before you add almond yogurt to your shopping cart, take a peek at the nutrition facts and ingredients. This is truly the only objective way to know exactly what you are consuming.
Nutrition Facts per 5.3 ounce container:
- 140 calories
- 2.5g fat
- 0g saturated fat
- 0g trans fat
- 0mg cholesterol
- 95mg sodium
- 29g carbohydrates
- 3g fiber
- 19g sugar
- <1g protein
- 0% vitamin A
- 20% calcium
- 4% iron
- 20% vitamin D
Ingredients: Almond milk (Water, Almond Butter), Cane Sugar, Rice Starch, Cherries, Natural Flavor, Inulin, Maltodextrin, Corn Starch, Locust Bean Gum, Tricalcium Phosphate, Fruit & Vegetable Juice (Color), Sea Salt, Citric Acid, Sunflower Lecithin, Pectin, Vitamin D2, Live & Active Cultures.
Almond Dream is another brand available.
So, Is It a Healthier Option?
The answer depends on what you are looking for. If you are seeking a calcium-rich, satisfying snack, a serving of almond yogurt will provide you with an amount ranging from 200mg to 350mg, which is similar to that of other yogurts.
On the other hand, if you are hoping for a snack or meal component that will bring some protein to your day, the original versions of almond yogurt are not a great choice, providing a measly gram of protein. BUT if you are lucky enough to find the Greek version of almond yogurt, you will find 7 grams of protein being added from a protein source that is becoming more and more common – green peas (one also being used in some of my favorite vegan protein shakes, Vega). This protein amount is still only roughly half of the animal-based Greek yogurt, but it's a big step up from other almond based yogurts.
It is also important to take a look at the sugar content of your yogurt, whether animal- or plant- based. All flavored versions contain added sugars (“light” flavored yogurts typically include artificial sweeteners, which are still considered added sugars in my book) in addition to the natural sugars inherent in milk and fruit, which is why health experts recommend plain yogurt over flavored varieties - with a splash of fruit or honey to add sweetness if desired.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find a plain version of almond yogurt in the dairy aisle, which means I selected black cherry, a choice that tacked on nearly 5 teaspoons of added sugars to my day – nearly two-thirds of the daily recommended intake for a man and just shy of the entire day’s allotment for women! Certainly still a more nutrient rich option than a soda or a piece of cake, but still…
I also found it interesting that thickeners, such as corn starch and pectin, are being added as almond- (and soy-) based yogurts are on the thinner side. Are they dangerous? No, but for those looking for a streamlined list of ingredients, this may be a turnoff.
The Bottom Line
I absolutely loved the taste of this sweet treat, but that is essentially what I would categorize the flavored almond yogurt as – much like all flavored yogurts - a once in a while treat. I will continue to recommend protein-rich plain kefir or Greek yogurt for those choosing to eat cow’s milk and soy-based yogurt for the vegans and vegetarians, as both provide greater amounts of protein and calcium. And, by going for the plain option, you are significantly knocking down those unnecessary added sugars. If you can find it, I would also suggest the plain Greek version of almond yogurt, as I cannot wait to try it out myself!
What about you? Which yogurt tops your list?