Is coconut yoghurt a healthy choice?
Coconut yoghurt is the latest product craze to come from the coco-loco health trend that has taken over the world.
Now health gurus have jumped on board claiming it could be the next superfood. But is it really better for you than traditional dairy yoghurt?
// The good //
If you're vegan, paleo, lactose intolerant or follow a low FODMAP diet, then coconut yoghurt can be a great alternative to dairy options.
The flavour is quite pleasant (though the texture is a little questionable) and it can generally be used in a recipe that calls for dairy yoghurt! I personally prefer the taste of coconut yoghurt to soy yoghurt - but prefer the texture of soy varieties.
Whilst there is no naturally occurring live cultures in coconut yoghurt, most manufacturers add probiotics. Probiotics are great for your gut health, which can impact on many things from how your gut feels, bowel motions, energy levels and even your happiness.
When compared alongside cream, coconut better comes out on top so it could be a suitable cream substitute...
One of the best things about coconut yoghurt is that it is plant-based. Plant-based food is generally better for you... unfortunately - not in this case.
// Nutrition information //
To compare apples with apples, here is the nutrition information per 100g for a general leading natural greek yoghurt (full cream) alongside the leading coconut yoghurt brand, Coyo.
After looking at this nutrition comparison, you don't need to be an accredited dietitian or nutritionist to work out what I am about to say next...
// The bad //
Coconut yoghurt contains quite a bit more energy (kJs/calories), less protein (almost 1/3 the amount in natural dairy yoghurt) whilst also managing to give you around 3 x more total fat and 4 x more saturated fat than full-cream dairy yoghurt - which isn't amazing news.
Coconut yoghurts do have a lower carbohydrate and sugar content - which is why I think people may have started to think that it was a healthier alternative! But truly...? Carbohydrates are not the devil. Some carbohydrates are really good for us - like whole grains, legumes, fruit and veg and the carbs found in dairy products. Also, the sugar found in natural, greek dairy yoghurt is naturally occurring lactase - not added sugars. There is a bit of a difference.
Generally, trendy 'health' foods tend to come with a price tag and coconut yoghurt is no exception. Expect to pay almost double for coconut yoghurt than traditional dairy varieties.
One of the greatest benefits of eating yoghurt is that it is a source of calcium - which is such an important nutrient for maintaining bone health. Unfortunately, coconut yoghurt doesn't have any calcium.
// The verdict //
- Coconut yoghurt isn't the next superfood... . So if you are able to eat (and enjoy) dairy yoghurt - then don't make the swap to coconut yoghurt because you think it's a healthier alternative. Sadly, it isn't...
Coconut yoghurt is an ok alternative to dairy yoghurt if you're vegan, lactose intolerant or following a paleo lifestyle. Be mindful of the serving size as many packages contain 2 x servings per pack, making it easier to eat beyond satiety.
If you're looking for a cream substitutes in recipes, then go (coco)nuts with coconut yoghurt. And by that, I mean - eat coconut yoghurt in moderation. ;)
For those who want to eat coconut yoghurt, choose the plain version as this will contain less sugar. If you're really after some sweetness, you can add your own fruit like berries, passionfruit or pomegranate. Yum! Always look for one with probiotics added to make sure your gut benefits!