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It appears healthy, but is it? Chobani Greek Yogurt

June 25, 2012
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I’m dedicated to giving the middle finger to the food industry – more specifically to the food marketing industry – whenever they deserve it. Because I used to work in advertising, selling “food” products that I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. And neither should you. Here’s why.

I remember when Chobani hit the blog scene. It felt like every healthy food blogger was suddenly raving about the free samples they’d received in the mail and using yogurt in their baking and cooking umpteen ways. Well, gotta hand it to the marketing folks at Chobani. They got the word out, big time! So let’s talk about it.

Chobani Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is delicious, no doubt. And it’s been receiving attention for having more protein and less sugar than regular yogurt. Chobani in particular has been appealing to the health-conscious consumer and we see this reflected in the packaging. “Only Natural Ingredients” is scrawled across the top (but we know by now that means nothing, right? The word “Natural” has yet to be regulated by the USDA.) Chobani also reminds us that this product is non-fat (some varieties are low-fat). And as a sponsor of the Olympic team, it’s gotta be good for us, right?

Well, it appears to be healthy! But is it?

For the record, I define “healthy” food as food that is real, whole, nutrient dense and comes from the earth.

Nonfat Yogurt made from nonfat milk
Milk is a perfect example of a whole food – when we keep it whole, that is. As soon as we start removing fat, it’s no longer in its natural state. I’m sorry to have to say this, but Chobani is right off the bat not a whole food.

Why does it matter? Well, in this case, fat is important for absorbing calcium. There may be 20% of your RDA of calcium in this cup, but it’s not able to be absorbed properly without fat. See, you need fat.

Finally, a last note about the milk used to make Chobani. It’s not organic. That’s a bummer. But the Chobani website claims that the milk they use is free of rBST (a synthetic growth hormone). That’s good.
Ingredient score: 100

Live Cultures
Super. That’s the best part of eating yogurt, nutritionally speaking.
Ingredient score: 300

Blueberries
Real fruit? Great. I wish they were organic. Blueberries in particular are one of those fruits that according to the Environmental Working Group you should always buy organic to avoid some serious pesticide residue.
Ingredient score: 25

Evaporated Cane Juice
Apparently blueberries are not sweet enough on their own. Damn. Evaporated Cane Juice is about as sugary as sugar gets. There’s no redeeming value here. In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons I said no when Chobani asked to send me samples. I try to keep sugary treats out of the house and I certainly don’t need it in my “health” food.
Ingredient score: -1000

Pectin and Locust Bean Gum
Thickeners. No big problem here. But note that if you made your own yogurt at home, these are not part of the recipe. They’re kind of a “cheat” for industrially made stuff.
Ingredient score: 0

Total score: -575
Yes, these scores are a little arbitrary, but you get my point. Chobani has a lot of healthy aspects, but it’s not a whole food. And it’s just another way sugar sneaks into your diet. Finally, it’s adding to your toxic load with non-organic fruit and milk.

It appears to be healthy but it definitely…isn’t the best.

Better alternatives?
– Organic, full fat plain greek yogurt with fresh organic fruit
– Want something creamy and sweet? Try this pudding.

You may also be interested in:

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It appears to be healthy, but is it? Cran-Pomegranate juice

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