June is National Dairy Month, and the dairy category just happens to be one of the fastest growing areas globally for new products sweetened with zero-calorie, plant-based stevia. The majority of this growth is in the yogurt category. Seventy percent of the new dairy products introduced with stevia in 2016 were either in the spoonable or drinkable yogurt category.
Government bodies recommend three servings of dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese) a day for adults and children over nine to meet calcium requirements, as well as other nutrients of concern, including vitamin D and potassium. Recommendations for younger children are two dairy servings for 2 and 3 year-olds, and 2 ½ servings for 4 to 8 year-olds. In the United States, 42% of the population ages one year and over have calcium intakes below the estimated average requirements (EAR), and 94% have intakes of vitamin D below the EAR1. Adding more dairy products to the diet can address these nutrient gaps in the diet.
When it comes to selecting healthful yogurt options, it is important to watch added sugar content. All dairy products contain a naturally-occurring sugar called lactose. An average serving (5-6 ounce serving) of yogurt has approximately 10 grams of lactose, listed on the food label under total carbohydrates as sugar. Fruit-on-the-bottom, fruit-flavored or dessert-type yogurt flavors have additional added sugars, which vary per brand and yogurt style, but average 2 to 3 teaspoons or more. Look for brands sweetened with stevia, or buy plain yogurt, add your own fruit, and sprinkle in some stevia for zero-calorie sweetness.
Stevia continues to become more prevalent as an ingredient in dairy products, because it allows food and beverage manufacturers a way to reduce added sugar levels naturally without affecting taste or texture. Advances in stevia sensory science have found that combining specific steviol glycosides can provide a clean, sugar-like sweetness without any bitter aftertaste while maintaining the necessary texture and mouthfeel2.
For an adventurous way to enjoy dairy, make this exotic sugar-reduced kulfi, a popular frozen dessert in India that is similar to ice cream in taste and appearance: http://globalsteviainstitute.com/recipes/kulfi/.
- DietaryGuidelines.gov (2014). Usual intake distributions, 2007-10 by age/gender groups. Retrieved from DietaryGuidelines.gov: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-BINDER/meeting2/docs/refMaterials/Usual_Intake_072013.pdf [PDF – 1 MB]
- A Sweet Future for Dairy, PureCircle R&D blog, September 30, 2015: http://purecircle.com/r-and-d-blog/a-sweet-future-for-dairy/