It can be confusing making sense of the all different brands and types of yoghurt particularly if you are trying to stick to the WHO guidelines of 24g of added sugar per day.  The ones that claim to be low fat, no fat, diet are still high in sugar.  So I have written this post  with you in mind with some practical guidelines and tips.

First you need to check that you are not confusing natural lactose content of the yoghurt which comes from milk.  Lactose is the natural sugar found in the milk of all mammals – goats, cow, sheep and humans – and is an important component of milk and yoghurt.  There is nothing wrong with it unless you are lactose intolerant – which is a condition where some people are unable to digest (break down) the lactose which then causes pain, bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea.

So we need to differentiate between lactose and added sugars.  On the Nutrition Panel of the back of any yoghurt, lactose gets listed under the blanket term of “sugars” and so is often confused with added cane sugar or honey or agave. Note the plural form sugars is a total figure which includes added sugar (sucrose) as well as glucose, fructose (from fruit) and lactose (from dairy).

To get clarity, I headed for the supermarket and compared the sugars in some of the brands of natural, fruit sweetened and non-fruit sweetened yoghurts. Here are my findings and my conclusions


1. Natural Organic Yogurt


(looked at the Glenisk range here)

sugar and yoghurts

Range Milk used Sugar content
Whole organic yogurt Whole fat (full fat) milk 6g
Low fat organic yogurt Low fat (semi skimmed) milk 5g
Fat Free organic yogurt Skimmed milk 4.5g


Glenisk whole organic yogurt

From the nutrition label – 6.2 g sugar 2.7g sat fat – 6.2g is lactose – milk sugar

From the Ingredients list – Organic Whole Milk, Organic Skimmed Milk Powder, Cultures (Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus casei)

Glenisk low fat organic yogurt

From the nutrition label – 4.9 g sugar, 1.4g  sat fat –  4.9g is lactose – milk sugar

Organic Semi Skimmed Milk, Organic Skimmed Milk Powder, Cultures (Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus)

Organic Fat Free Natural Yogurt

From the nutrition label – 4.5 g sugar, .2g  sat fat – 4.5g is lactose – milk sugar

Organic Skimmed Milk, Organic Skimmed Milk Powder, Organic Rice Starch, Cultures (Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus)

Conclusion 1

A plain unsweetened yogurt or a natural yogurt has anywhere from 4 to 6% sugar – which is 4 to 6g per 100 grams. In the Glenisk range a natural yoghurt made from whole milk is 6g of sugar, a low fat yoghurt made from low fat milk is 5g of sugar and fat free yoghurt made from skimmed milk is 4.5g of sugar.   For ease of understanding I will round this to 5g.  This 5g is the natural lactose sugars in any dairy yoghurt and is unavoidable.


2. Fruit Sweetened Yoghurts

sugar in yoghurts

Range Milk used Total sugars per 100g Added to sweeten
Low fat Strawberry yoghurt (glenisk) Low fat (semi skimmed) milk 11g Strawberries


Glenilen Strawberry yoghurt* Skimmed milk 8.8g Strawberries


Yoplait strawberry yoghurt Skimmed milk 13g Strawberries


*I contacted the quality manager at Glenilen.  They are currently updating their packaging with their new sugar values and it is their aim to have all the fruit yoghurts with less than 10% total sugar within the next few months

Organic Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt

From the nutrition label – 11g sugar, 1.2g sat fat

Organic Semi Skimmed Milk, Organic Strawberry (8%), Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Skimmed Milk Powder, Organic Tapioca Starch, Acidity Regulator (Organic Lemon Juice Concentrate), Thickener (Organic Locust Bean Gum), Cultures (Streptococcus thermophilus, Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus), Organic Aronia Concentrate,  Natural Flavouring

4.9g is lactose – milk sugar,   6.1g is natural occurring sugar in strawberries and added sugar

Safe to say 100g contains at least 4g sugar or one teaspoon

What to watch out for

Most fruit sweetened yoghurts are sweetened with fruit and in most cases added sugar.  Always read the ingredients list on the back for the added sugars as it may not all come from fruit even though the nice picture on the box might suggest otherwise.  Avoid yoghurt with agave or high fructose corn syrup.

Conclusion 2

A fruit sweetened yogurt has on average somewhere between 11 and 14g of sugar per 100g.   Take away the 5g for the natural occurring sugar in the milk we are left with between 6 and 9g of sugar. Read the ingredients list to see what is actually in it.

3. Non fruit sweetened Yoghurts

Range Milk used Total sugars Added to sweeten
Yoplait chocolate yoghurt Skimmed milk 18g glucose fructose syrup



Subtracting the 4.5g for the skimmed milk we are left with 13.5 g of added sugars – just over 3 teaspoons.

Conclusion 3

A non-fruit sweetened yoghurt has on average 18g+ of sugar per 100g.   Take away the 5g for the natural occurring sugar in the milk we are left with about 13g of sugar. Avoid these yoghurts as this accounts for over half recommended intake for added sugars.

So my rule of thumb….

If you are buying a sweetened yoghurt look for ones with less than 12g per 100g using the nutritional information on the back to find the less sweetened types.  Alternatively buy a natural yoghurt and stir in your own diced fruit and add a sprinkle of nuts and seeds.  You know exactly what you are eating and are increasing the nutritive value of the snack.

Final note – yoghurts are out now with added seeds and oats.  Looking at the Yoplait Plenti range – this is a reasonably good choice if you need to grab and go in a hurry.

Here are a few suggestions for adding some natural flavour and sweetness to natural yoghurts.

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Dark chocolate and Orange Yoghurt Cups 


4 tbsp Natural Yoghurt

1 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped

1 tbsp fresh orange, peeled & chopped

1 tbsp chopped, shelled pistachios

1 tbsp honey, drizzled

Sprinkle with fresh mint, chopped


Put the natural yoghurt in a bowl.
Peel & chop up the orange and add to the yoghurt.  Chop up the dark chocolate and sprinkle over the top with the pistachios.
Drizzle with honey and add some fresh, chopped mint.


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Banana, chocolate and maple syrup yoghurt cup


4 tbsp natural yoghurt

½ banana, sliced

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped


Scoop the yogurt into a bowl for your base.

Peal and chop the bananas and add to the yoghurt.

Drizzle caramel over the banana.

Chop the chocolate and sprinkle over the top.


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Granola yoghurt cups


4 tbsp natural yoghurt

4 sliced strawberries

10 blueberries

1 tbsp granola (preferably homemade)

1 tbsp drizzled honey/maple syrup


Scoop the natural yoghurt into a bowl

Slice the strawberries & add in the blueberries.

Shake the granola over the top.

Drizzle your creation with honey or maple syrup



Help2health Nutrition – Educate Guide Support Inspire to a happier healthier U

Helen Byrne, Nutrition and Health Coach,  Mob 086 8067832, Email

Copyright © 2016 by Helen Byrne, Help2health Nutrition



















Copyright © 2016 by Helen Byrne