Q: How much of the sugar in yogurt is from added sugar rather than from the fruit or the yogurt itself?
A: Product nutrition fact labels don’t distinguish between the naturally occurring sugars in milk, yogurt or fruit, and other added sugars. However, you can make an educated estimate by comparing the sugar content listed on flavored yogurt to the sugar listed in a similar serving size and type of plain (unflavored) yogurt. Just make sure you’re comparing sugar content of comparable servings; some list five or six ounces as a serving and others list eight.
You’ll see that six ounces of traditional (regular) fruit yogurt typically has 23 to 29 grams of sugar, whereas the same amount of nonfat or lowfat plain yogurt contains about 13 grams of sugar, all naturally occurring in milk. That means that 6 ounces of the sweetened fruit yogurt contains 10 to 16 grams of sugar from the fruit and added sugar, or about two-and-a-half to four teaspoons of sugar. (Each teaspoon of sugar is equal to about four grams.)
We might like to believe that sugar is mostly from fruit, but it would take more than one cup of sliced strawberries to reach 10 grams of natural fruit sugar. So even accounting for the natural sugar content of the very small amount of added fruit, we are still getting about two to four teaspoons of added sugar in just a six-ounce portion.
You can skip the label comparisons and get less added sugar, fewer calories and more nutrition if you choose plain yogurt and add your own fruit.