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"Please give us the definitive answer of whether or not yogurt with sugar can contain live yogurt cultures."

Good timing for this question, my wife just happened to be out shopping when I read this… so I called her to look at the yogurt selection at our local Whole Foods Market. There were several varieties of yogurt available, some plain and some sweetened. Every one of them had some sort of live cultures listed in their ingredients, so I hope that settles your debate. This brings up a good point about the sugar listed in the nutritional facts on a yogurt label. If you look at plain, unsweetened yogurt, it will have about 13 grams of “sugar” listed on the label. While 13 grams of sugar sounds like a lot, this is the milk sugar lactose. Lactose is metabolized differently than simple sucrose (table sugar), and is released more gradually into the blood stream – which is good. Bottom line: I don’t consider lactose sugar a “bad” sugar. Now compare the plain yogurt with the sweetened yogurt. Most sweetened yogurt will have about 15 extra grams of sugar due to the sweetening, for a total of about 28-30 grams of sugar overall. These are the yogurts that I avoid – too much total sugar. You can find tasty, sweetened yogurt that only has a sugar content of about 16 grams (13 lactose + 3 grams of fruit juice sweetening). This is a great yogurt! Even better - buy plain yogurt and then sweeten with a handful of blueberries and sliced strawberries.

Dr. Jim, May '06