Anyone trying to keep blood glucose levels in control will struggle if they are consuming yogurts geared toward children. These yogurts typically are high in sugar and low in protein, a bad combination for keeping blood sugar in check.
What Is Blood Sugar?
Blood sugar, or glucose, is the main sugar found in your blood. It comes from the food you eat, and is your body’s main source of energy. Your blood carries glucose to all of your body’s cells to use for energy.
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood sugar levels are too high. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause serious problems. Even if you don’t have diabetes, sometimes you may have problems with blood sugar that is too low or too high. Keeping a regular schedule of eating, activity, and taking any medicines you need can help.
If you do have diabetes, it is very important to keep your blood sugar numbers in your target range. You may need to check your blood sugar several times each day. Your health care provider will also do a blood test called an A1C. It checks your average blood sugar level over the past three months. If your blood sugar is too high, you may need to take medicines and/or follow a special diet.
What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels?
They’re less than 100 mg/dL after not eating (fasting) for at least 8 hours. And they’re less than 140 mg/dL 2 hours after eating.
During the day, levels tend to be at their lowest just before meals. For most people without diabetes, blood sugar levels before meals hover around 70 to 80 mg/dL. For some people, 60 is normal; for others, 90.
What’s a low sugar level? It varies widely, too. Many people’s glucose won’t ever fall below 60, even with prolonged fasting. When you diet or fast, the liver keeps your levels normal by turning fat and muscle into sugar. A few people’s levels may fall somewhat lower.
Sugar and Your Body
Why are high blood sugar levels bad for you? Glucose is precious fuel for all the cells in your body when it’s present at normal levels. But it can behave like a slow-acting poison.
High sugar levels slowly erode the ability of cells in your pancreas to make insulin. The organ overcompensates and insulin levels stay too high. Over time, the pancreas is permanently damaged.
High levels of blood sugar can cause changes that lead to a hardening of the blood vessels, what doctors call atherosclerosis. Almost any part of your body can be harmed by too much sugar. Damaged blood vessels cause problems such as:
Kidney disease or kidney failure, requiring dialysis
Vision loss or blindness
Weakened immune system, with a greater risk of infections
Nerve damage, also called neuropathy, that causes tingling, pain, or less sensation in your feet, legs, and hands
Poor circulation to the legs and feet
Slow wound-healing and the potential for amputation in rare cases
Keep your blood sugar levels close to normal to avoid many of these complications. The American Diabetes Association’s goals for blood sugar control in people with diabetes are 70 to 130 mg/dL before meals, and less than 180 mg/dL after meals.
The #1 Worst Yogurt for Blood Sugar
Yogurt does it all—this breakfast staple has helped folks start their morning for generations, has made its way into a ton of recipes, and can transform into a quick midday snack. Experts have even discovered that the probiotics and nutritional content of some yogurts can help aid digestion, provide you with the necessary protein to get you moving when you wake up, and one study published in the International Journal of Obesity revealed that some types of yogurt may even help you lose weight.
While it seems like a cup or bowl of your favorite yogurt can do it all, not every variety is created equal. Some brands find ways to sneak in extra sugar and carbs through the guise of added fruit or special flavors. While these types of sugar-filled yogurt are guaranteed to cause your blood sugar to spike, one nostalgic variety you might remember from childhood takes the cake when it comes to wrecking your blood sugar for the day.
“The worst yogurts I advise patients with diabetes to buy are yogurts marketed to children. Clever marketing techniques like advertising and packaging are potent ways to sell to children and adults with a sweet tooth,” says Cheryl Mussatto, MS, RD, LD, clinical dietitian and author of The Nourished Brain.
“Anyone trying to keep blood glucose levels in control will struggle if they are consuming yogurts geared toward children. These yogurts typically are high in sugar and low in protein, a bad combination for keeping blood sugar in check. Without sufficient protein and too many carbs, a person’s blood sugar will spike, as there is too little protein or fat to slow the absorption of sugar into the blood,” says Mussatto.
“Children like the ‘add-ins,’ such as toffee bits or other bits of candy within the yogurt that even adults find appealing,” Mussatto adds. “So, stay away from kid’s yogurts to avoid blood sugar spikes.”
Anyone who loves a cup of multicolored yogurt filled with candy might have a hard time adapting, but choosing the right amount or type of yogurt can play a major role in keeping you healthy. When it comes to picking out the right variety, you can’t go wrong by first examining the ingredients.
“I recommend always reading the nutrition facts label,” says Mussatto. “In fact, don’t buy a yogurt brand without reading the label. The best yogurts to choose from are those with no more than 10 grams of total sugar and no more than 15 grams of total carbohydrates per serving.”
If you can stomach a yogurt with very little sugar, there’s one type in particular that always blows away the competition when it comes to dishing out the best nutrition.
“Greek yogurt is what I always recommend to my patients,” Mussatto explains. “Choose a Greek yogurt high in protein of at least 10 grams per serving and low in carbs—ideally, no more than 10 grams per serving. Foods high in protein break down more slowly, keeping a person feeling fuller longer. In addition, protein helps slow down carbs’ digestion and delays their absorption into the blood. It’s a win-win for anyone with diabetes—the protein controls hunger and keeps blood sugar from spiking.”
If you don’t like Greek yogurt, it might seem like you don’t have that many great options ahead of you. Luckily, you can keep an eye out for healthier options and treat yourself to a variety of yogurts that ditch the sugar and still taste great.
Greek Yogurt Nutrition Facts
The following nutrition information is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for one container (156 g or 5.5 oz) of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt.
Fat: 0.265 g
Sodium: 56.2 mg
Carbohydrates: 5.68 g
Sugars: 5.1 g
Choline: 23.6 mg
Protein: 16.1 g
Calcium: 111 mg
Carbs: One container of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt (156 grams) typically contains 5 grams of carbohydrates. It has 5.1 grams of sugar.
Fats: There’s less than 1 gram of fat in plain, nonfat Greek yogurt.
Protein: Greek yogurt contains 16 grams of protein, making it an excellent way to boost your daily protein intake.
Vitamins and Minerals: Greek yogurt is full of vitamins and minerals. One container includes 10.7 milligrams of magnesium, 136 milligrams of phosphorous, 141 milligrams of potassium, and 15 milligrams of choline. It also has 111 milligrams of calcium.
Magnesium helps with functions such as energy production and protein synthesis, while potassium plays a vital role in nervous system function and muscle contraction. Phosphorous helps with bone growth and normal cell membrane function. Choline, a B vitamin, assists with biological processes such as fat and cholesterol transport, as well as energy metabolism.
Calories: According to the USDA, one container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt contains 92 calories.