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updated: 3/1/2011 5:11 PM

Compare labels to determine source of sugar

Ask the Nutrionist

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Q. How can I tell how much of the sugar in yogurt is from fruit and milk and how much is from added sugar?

A. The product label itself doesn't allow you to distinguish among the different sources of sugar. However, you can compare the sugar content listed on flavored yogurt to the sugar in a similar type of plain (unflavored) yogurt, since the difference between them will reflect added sugar content.

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When you do, you'll see that eight ounces of most regular fruit-flavored yogurt contains about 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons of added sugar.

(There are about four grams of sugar in one teaspoon.) Eight ounces of most regular fruit-flavored yogurt contains 26 to 39 grams of sugar, whereas the same amount of plain regular yogurt contains 16 to 17 grams of the sugar naturally found in milk. That means that the sweetened fruit yogurts contain 10 to 27 grams of sugar from fruit and added sugar.

We might like to believe that's mostly from fruit, but a quick check of the nutritional content shows that it's not.

For example, strawberry yogurt contains 0 to 2 percent of Daily Value for vitamin C; if the yogurt contained even a tablespoon of strawberries it would have about 10 percent.

When doing this comparison, be sure to compare similar serving sizes and types of yogurt.

The take-home message if you don't want to do the label comparisons is that you can get much less added sugar, fewer calories and much more nutrition if you buy plain yogurt and add your own fruit.

• Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Learn more about the group and its New American Plate program at aicr.org.

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