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In short, absolutely not!

 

These days no matter what food aisle you go to, there’s been an explosion of new foods with coconut in them. The yoghurt category is no different with products now available being made from either coconut milk or simply flavoured with coconut. As a dietitian with a passion for helping people understand food to improve their health, this coconut craze bugs me, particularly in the dairy category. It might be a trendy ingredient that celebrities swear by as the new super-food, but it’s time to get a qualified dietitian review of the facts across the yoghurt aisle.

 

Traditionally, yoghurts are known as a dairy food being made from cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is a rich source of calcium, quality protein and a range of other essential vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc, vitamin B12 and potassium. As part of the Australian Dietary Guidelines, dairy is a food group with the recommendation of 3 serves for adults every day. This recommendation is to help meet our calcium needs. If you avoid dairy and choose to replace dairy with alternative products made from nut milks like coconut, make sure they supply you with calcium as a minimum.  

 

There are also a few other things you should know before making the switch, let’s take a look:

 

Nutrients per 100ml Cow’s Milk (full cream) Coconut Milk (unsweetened, full fat)*
Energy (cals) 64 72
Protein (g) 3.4 0.8
Fat total (g) 3.4 6.5
Saturated fat (g) 2.3 5.9
Carbohydrate total (g) 4.8 2.5
Carbohydrate – sugars (g) 4.8 <0.5
Sodium (mg) 44 3.1
Calcium (mg) 128

*Based on brand ‘inside/out’ (Australia 2017)

 

Here’s a snapshot of a few coconut yoghurts hitting the supermarket shelves:

 

Nutrients per 100g Nudie natural coconut yoghurtNUDIE

No Udder – coconut natural yoghurt

NO UDDER

 

 

Chobani yoghurt – coconut flavour

CHOBANI - Credit to woolworths

 

Cocobella coconut yoghurt – naturalCOCOBELLA - Credit to woolworths

 

 

Alpine Natural Yoghurt – coconut

ALPINE - credit to grocerycop.com.au

Energy (cals) 155 195 86 113 187
Protein (g) 1.5 1.5 8.1 0.9 1.9
Fat total (g) 14.6 16.6 1.3 10.2 16.2
Saturated fat (g) 13.8 14.7 1.1 9.1 11.5
Carbohydrate total (g) 4.8 10.6 10.5 3.4 4.2
Carbohydrate – sugars (g) 1.2 5 9.2 3.4 2.9
Sodium (mg) 13 15 30 12.8 20
Calcium (mg) 103

 

An important point to note is the difference between Chobani and the rest. Chobani yoghurt is a coconut flavoured product that is made from cow’s milk, owing to its high protein and calcium content. There are a few products in the marketplace which are flavoured with coconut rather than made with coconut milk.  If you don’t have a dairy intolerance we recommend using these products instead because of the added nutritional benefits of protein and calcium. This is even more important for those under the age of 25yrs as peak bone density is still being developed which relies upon dietary calcium.

 

Another stand out is the amount of total and saturated fat in yoghurts made from full fat coconut milk.  The National Heart Foundation recommends that the average Australian adult aim for a saturated fat intake of ~16g maximum per day for heart health. One tub of full fat coconut milk yoghurt can exceed this daily target on its own. That’s without any other sources from other foods and drinks you eat over the course of the day. With all the coconut entering the market, a few snack bars, a piece of fruit bread with your coffee or some meat or chicken at lunch or dinner can send you over the Richter scale against the recommendations putting your long term heart health at risk without you even realising.

 

So next time you’re looking at the yoghurts on display, consider these few things before making your decision:

  • Am I really lactose intolerant – if no, dairy is best. Look for coconut as a flavouring ingredient in the ingredients list
  • Does the product contain calcium (100mg/100g as a guide) – if no, look for another one that does
  • Does the product contain protein (5g or more per 100g as a guide) – if no, how can you add it
  • How much saturated fat are you consuming each day – do you have other foods that regularly contribute to a high saturated fat intake (examples include butter, full fat dairy, meat, some sauces and condiments, cheese, processed meats and take-away foods, chocolate confectionery, biscuits, cakes and pastries).

 

Be mindful of your food selections and know the facts before following the trends.  Trendy foods aren’t always the healthiest foods.

 

Winner in the coconut yoghurt category:

Chobani yoghurt – Coconut FlavouredCHOBANI - Credit to woolworths

 

 

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