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Finding the Best Yogurt for your Child
When we decided to switch to a plant-based vegan diet, yogurt was my biggest concern. My daughter does not like cow’s milk, but she loves whole milk plain yogurt (even the thick, Greek yogurt!) I thought it was important to give her yogurt to make up for the nutrition she was lacking from not drinking milk.
Now that we have switched to a vegan diet and I have done tons of research, I wholeheartedly agree that children do not need dairy products. I decided to create this Non-Dairy Yogurt Review to help others that may be looking for a better substitution to cow’s milk yogurt.
Want to read more about dairy and what the research says? Check out nutritionfacts.org!
The Dairy Dilemma
My daughter stopped drinking cow’s milk around 18 months when we ditched the bottle. Even when we weaned from breastmilk, she didn’t like cow’s milk at first. We actually started with Ripple (which is made from pea protein) and then gradually mixed it with cow’s milk.
It’s crazy to go back and realize that she had been resisting cow’s milk from the beginning, but I was so worried about her drinking it so she wouldn’t miss out on “nutrients”.
Non-Dairy Yogurt Bases
The non-dairy yogurts I reviewed used the following as their base ingredient:
- Flax Seeds
My Non-Dairy Yogurt Review
A few notes about how I compared these yogurts. I had a hierarchy of importance when looking at different brands, whereas other reviews I found focused mostly on taste.
Taste was the last factor I considered because I’m sure that yogurt loaded with sugar tastes delicious! However, sugar content is especially important to consider, especially if it’s for your children.
I based my reviews on the nutrition value (especially the sugar content), quality ingredients (organic, non-gmo), price, availability, and taste.
Why do people think that kids need to drink milk?
Calcium Vitamin D, Protein…
1. Quality Ingredients:
If looking at an almond, cashew, or soy milk, I try to find organic. Conventional almonds can be sprayed with propylene oxide (PPO) and glysophate, which are known carcinogens. Whereas these toxic chemicals are banned from organic varieties.
If not labeled organic, you can reach to the company to ask if their almonds contain either of those toxins. For example, Kite Hill is not labeled organic, but when I reached out to the company they stated that their suppliers do not treat the almond with
propylene oxide or glyphosate.
Soy is another hot health topic. Most people believe that all soy in the U.S. in genetically modified, however organic soy by law cannot be a gentically modified organism (GMO). So choose a brand of soy milk yogurt that is organic to ensure it is GMO-free. If you want to read more regarding some of the health myths around soy, here’s a great article from Dr. Holly Wilson.
2. Sugar Content
Children between the ages of 2 to 18 should have less than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day according to the American Heart Association. It seems a little ridiculous that the amount is the same for a 2 year old as it is for a 16 year old though. However, even going by that recommendation alone, it would rule out most of the yogurts on the market!
Skip the sweetened yogurt and mix in fresh fruit. If your child is already used to sweetened yogurt, try to wean them off it by mixing with unsweetened.
Under 2 it is recommended to have ZERO added sugars. Yes you heard that right. Is that achievable? It can be, but to be honest my daughter had small amounts of added sugar occasionally under the age of 2. I simply tried to not make a daily habit of doing so.
I think it is important that items such as non-dairy milk and yogurt be free of added sugars. These are items that may be consumed on a daily basis or in large amounts, so try to skip the sugar-packed ones! By doing so I save any amount of added sugar for the occasional bar on-the-go, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or small treat.
How to Identify Added Sugar vs. Non-Added Sugar
You can check out a list of ingredient names that are added sugars here. This includes cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, and many more.
The FDA released new nutrition label guidelines that will make it easier to identify added sugars. The guidelines are not required to begin until January 2020, but you might have noticed companies already starting to update their labels. Instead of just listing Sugars and the grams, there is now a line below that to list Added Sugars. The Added Sugars line will also provide a percentage of the Daily Recommended Value intake for a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Read more about the changes to the Nutrition Label here.
Sugar Content Rating Value
When conducting my review, some of the top brands don’t even make an unsweetened version! Some of the sweetened yogurts contained almost the entire daily recommended value of sugar for children under 18! There were a few that contained added sugar in the ingredients, but if their total sugars were less than 5 grams I included them in my list.
For the purpose of this review, I categorized the yogurt into 3 ratings based on sugar content. I used total sugar content since not every brand had an updated label that differentiated between total sugar and added sugar.
|Sugar Content (Total Sugar)||Rating Value|
|Less than 5 grams of total sugar||1 point|
|Between 5 and 7 grams of total sugar||0 points|
|8 grams of sugar or more||Excluded|
3. Additional Nutrients Provided
The benefits of cow’s milk are touted as high in calcium, vitamin D, protein, and healthy fats for children. However, I would like to challenge those claims.
Calcium: There are many other foods that provide calcium, including tofu, tempeh, greens, almonds, broccoli, and fortified plant milks and yogurts.
Vitamin D: This does not even occur naturally in milk. It is fortified in milk and also fortified in plant milks and yogurts.
Protein: There is a misconception that plant sources don’t provide protein and that is absolutely wrong! If anything, we are over-consuming protein while not eating enough fiber. Read more about plant-based protein here.
- Unsweetened: One point was awarded if a yogurt was unsweetened. Out of the 14 yogurts reviewed, 7 were unsweetened.
- Sugar Content: However the sugar content was low on a few that were sweetened so I then awarded a point to each yogurt that had a sugar content below 4 grams. 9 yogurts reviewed met that criteria.
- Fiber: Each yogurt that contained 3 grams or more of fiber received a point. Only 4 yogurts met the criteria.
- Calcium: Yogurts containing any calcium received one point. All but 4 yogurts met this criteria.
- Vitamin D: Yogurts containing any vitamin D received a point. This included 7 yogurts.
- Vitamin B12: Yogurt containing Vitamin B12 received one point. This included 4 yogurts.
- Protein: I did not assign a point value to protein because I do not worry about protein deficiency. I did however list protein in my yogurt scorecard for comparison among the brands.
- Other valuable nutrients: If a yogurt contained a nutrient that is particularly useful to a plant-based diet, I gave it an extra point. Good Karma Flaxmilk yogurt contains 800mg of omega-3s, which is of dietary need in vegan diets so it received an extra point.
- The scorecard also includes a column where I included notes about whether a yogurt was:
- No PPOs used
I awarded an extra point for each yogurt that contained at least 20% of the daily value for calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.
I gave a point for any yogurt that had at least 5% daily value for iron.
Non-Dairy Yogurt Scorecard
Brands & Flavors included
I included a total of 14 non-dairy yogurts in my analysis. Some brands, I included multiple flavors if they met my criteria for sugar content. The base ingredient of each yogurt is included within parentheses.
- Chobani Slightly Sweetened Plain (Coconut)
- Culina Plain & Simple (Coconut)
- Daiya Plain (Coconut)
- Forager Plain (Cashew & Coconut)
- Follow Your Heart Plain (Coconut)
- GT’s Cocoyo Plain (Coconut)
- Good Karma Plain (Flaxmilk)
- Kite Hill Plain (Almond)
- Kite Hill Plain Unsweetened (Almond)
- Nancy’s Plain (Gluten Free Oatmilk)
- Silk Plain (Soy)
- Silk Plain (Almond)
- Silk Unsweetened Vanilla (Almond)
- So Delicious Unsweetened Vanilla (Coconut)
Excluded Brands & Flavors
I looked at the following brands and flavors, but excluded them based on the amount of sugar or ingredients not suitable for children (stevia). I started with all brands that I could find at my local Albertson’s or Sprouts.
All Stonyfield Soy Yogurts (high sugar content), all Chobani flavors except slightly sweetened plain, and Vegan Yogurt (stevia).
Non-Dairy Yogurt Scorecard
What does organic mean?
- 95-100% of ingredients are organic.
- No GMOs
- No glyphosate allowed to be sprayed
You can check out my Non-Dairy Scorecard here! I will share the results below, but this contains the detailed nutrition information I gathered.
6 points – Top Picks
So Delicious Unsweetened Vanilla (Coconut): Made from Organic Coconutmilk, this topped my list! They offer an unsweetened version with less than 1 gram of sugar. It also includes 3 grams of fiber, 50% of the DV for calcium, 40% Vitamin D, and 45% Vitamin B12. It is lacking in protein at less than 1 gram per serving, however protein is not a concern in our diet.
Follow Your Heart Plain (Coconut): This is another great option made from organic coconut milk. With 2 grams of sugar (1g which is added), 4 grams of fiber, 40% DV calcium, 10% Vitamin D, 40% Vitamin B12, and 6% iron. In comparison to So Delicious, it provides 6 grams of protein per serving. Both would make excellent choices.
5 Points – Runner-Up
Daiya Plain (Coconut)
4 Points and below – Skip ’em
I was not impressed with Silk’s response when I emailed regarding PPOs and glyphosate used on their non-organic almonds.
From Silk Team email correspondence on April 5th, 2019 when asked whether their almonds were organic, or treated with PPOs or Glyphosate. They did not address the use of glyphosate directly and glyphosate is still allowed by EPA standards and GAPs, even after recent cases of glyphosate lawsuits from exposure to Roundup.
We source almonds from an independent supplier and can tell you the supplier is in compliance with the EPA standards for agricultural procedures. In addition, our almond supplier follows Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), which include guidelines to growers to ensure quality and safety across multiple points of the growing, harvesting, and the distribution process.
Specific to your inquiry, while Propylene Oxide (PPO) is an FDA approved pasteurization treatment for raw almonds to help reduce the risk of salmonella contamination; our supplier does not use this compound.
Silk Unsweetened Vanilla (Almond)
Silk Plain (Almond)
Kite Hill Plain Unsweetened (Almond)
Good Karma (Flaxmilk)
Silk Plain (Soy)
Nancy’s Plain (Gluten Free Oatmilk)
Forager Plain (Cashew & Coconut)
Culina Plain & Simple (Coconut)
Kite Hill Plain (Almond)
GT’s Cocoyo Plain (Coconut)
Chobani Slightly Sweetened Plain (Coconut)
2. The Startling Truth about Soy. (2015). https://ucdintegrativemedicine.com/2015/06/the-startling-truth-about-soy/#gs.4bkz1h