Could New ‘Greek Yogurt’ Products Do More Harm Than Good?

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

CBS Las Vegas (con't)

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BOSTON (CBS) — The virtues of Greek yogurt quickly became well known, and grocery stores are having a hard time keeping it in stock.

Now Greek yogurt is being added to a whole range of products, like cereals and dips. The problem is these products could be doing more harm than good to your diet.

Sophia Skopetos of “Sophia’s Greek Pastry” in Belmont, Massachusetts makes her yogurt the way she learned in the old country.

“I grew up on a farm, so we raised our own animals, and it was something we would make every day,” says Skopetos. “It’s like Italians have pasta, we have cheese and yogurt.”

Sophia has always known Greek yogurt is a miracle food, and now so do more of her customers. She’s selling about 200 pounds a day.

“I can’t make enough,” she added.

Greek yogurt is rich in protein and low in calories and has become a staple for many health conscious Americans. It now accounts for a third of all yogurt sold, which is up from just one percent six years ago.

Many processed foods are now touting Greek yogurt as an ingredient, trying to capitalize on the craze.

The health benefits vary according to how much Greek yogurt is really in the product, according to Joan Salge Blake, a Boston University professor of nutrition.

“Some have just a little bit of Greek yogurt, and added with it, a lot of sugar,” says Salge Blake. “So you may not be getting the benefit of Greek yogurt right out of the container.”

A serving of Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch has about double the fat, sugar and calories of the original cereal. It does contain a little more protein, however.

Salge Blake says shoppers shouldn’t be looking at the front of packages, which tout Greek yogurt in the product, but the side panel instead.

“Look to see how far up is the Greek yogurt. If it is way down on the ingredients label, that’s a sign for you that there really isn’t much Greek yogurt in the product.”

Another concern is that processing could negatively impact the active cultures and good bacteria that help make yogurt healthy in the first place.

Salge Blake says heat treating yogurt could kill some of those good bacteria, as could freezing it.

Spoketos has noticed more and more products advertising Greek yogurt as an ingredient. She is concerned shoppers are getting tricked by marketing, and doesn’t like it. “They are using it for financial benefits, not for health benefits.”

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