Super-yoghurt: is it worth it?

I follow food trends wherever I can, although I must say I don’t usually follow them to the point of trying all of them. But it’s interesting to see the trends.

The interesting food I’ve seen recently is Skyr, which is a so-called ‘super-yoghurt’ apparently from Iceland (although the website quickly informs us that it is made in Germany). I saw some big billboard ads that made it seem traditional (apparently it has been eaten for hundreds of years) and yet very healthy too. The main statement about its nutrition on the website is that it is “fat free, reduced sugar, high protein”.

I wanted to see what the fuss was about so I thought I’d get myself some and treat myself to a super-snack.

The taste test

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Having picked ‘Nordic Mixed Berries’ flavour, I quickly went about trying it for myself. And it was yoghurt. Pretty much just yoghurt – the texture was a little less creamy  than your traditional yoghurt, but that was likely due to the fact that it was fat-free. The berries were, to be honest, a bit bland, but did add a welcome flavour. There was the notable acidity that I tend to associate with healthy yoghurts, but on the whole it wasn’t a bad experience

The nutrition test

As mentioned, the key health claim was that it was fat free, reduced sugar, high protein. The facts are as below (per 150g pot, Nordic mixed berries):

  • 114 calories
  • 0.3g fat (0.1g saturates)
  • 12g carbohydrates (11.7g sugar)
  • 14.1g protein
  • 0.12g salt

Many will instantly spot the interesting contradiction – why is it labelled “fat-free” (see photo) when it contains 0.3g fat? According to NHS Choices website, presumably quoting a government labelling requirement, fat free means less than 0.5g fat per 100g. This indeed does indicate that there is negligible fat, though I can’t help feeling a little cheated.

It’s actually not that low in sugar – 12g is around 13% of the RDA for UK women, and this is on par with a regular healthy cereal like Alpen no added sugar (7g per 45g serving), or roughly twice the amount in a serving of Special K (4.5g per 30g serving). Having said that, 45g of muesli or 30g of breakfast flakes is a tiny amount which I suspect is rather less than the actual average portion size.

The concern I would have is that one pot of this certainly would not do for a breakfast alternative – it’s got to be a snacking material, and in this case something like carrot sticks or cherry tomatoes (2.5g sugar per 80g serving) would be much better. So I don’t think it’s as healthy as it could be…unless your normal breakfast is much worse, in which case it would be a better step.

So why bother?

I don’t know how successful Skyr is, but it is certainly fits the mould of a bit of a food fad. Big things are made of its traditional recipe and the fact that it’s from Iceland, but I don’t see any justification for the claim of being a super-yoghurt.

The high protein content is stated as if it’s only a good thing. In fact, the RDA of protein for UK women is 45g, so one pot of this is a third of the recommended amount. Certainly protein, if lean (as in this case) is a vital part of nutrition which is used in the repair of the body. But it’s not entirely a case of have as much as you like, as protein contains calories which can cause weight gain – a quick google will reveal that too much protein can have a fair few problems with it.

So, as ever, this appears to be a case of jumping on, or even trying to create, a bandwagon on which lots of people willingly jump, many of whom may not check the facts before they do so. And, as ever, the conclusion is that no one food can single-handedly be the answer to nutritional problems.

 

2 thoughts to “Super-yoghurt: is it worth it?”

  1. From experience earlier this year, Skyr looks very well established in Iceland and I didn’t notice any other brand advertised over there. From what I could see it’s a breakfast accompaniment rather than the main event. Equally, although it is presented as fresh, dairy, natural, the sort of thing that fit thin people eat as they sprint their way up a glacier, they don’t seem to hype it up as if it solves all your breakfast needs. I think most new products like this that make their way onto our shelves, start as a fad based on an advertising campaign and then (in this case) settle down to life in between Muller and Activia, taking a small unassuming slice of the market. We’ll hardly notice it’s there in a year’s time. It was like this when Danone came out, now all I remember is how the name sounds when hummed and that it’s something to do with making menopausal women less bloated.

  2. I had a similar experience to Jeremy, on a recent trip to Copenhagen. There, from what I could tell, Skyr was also sold simply as part of a breakfast and described as ‘strained Icelandic yoghurt’. I didn’t notice any of the claims the British advertisers are currently making about it.

    Now I’ve got the ‘mmm Danone’ tune stuck in my head!

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