Overall, plant-based yogurts have less total sugar, less sodium, and more fiber than dairy yogurts, but they also contain less protein, calcium, and potassium. “However, in terms of overall nutrient density, almond yogurt is significantly more nutrient dense than dairy yogurt and all other plant-based yogurts.”
The market for plant-based yogurt is expected to surge from $1.6 billion in 2021 to $6.5 billion in 2030 due to environmental sustainability concerns and reduced consumption of animal-based foods. “Plant-based diets are becoming more popular, especially in American culture. But just because it’s plant-based doesn’t mean it’s more nutritious,” D’Andra said. “There have to be specific studies to answer the question.” this problem.”
D’Andrea used the Mintel Global New Products Database to collect nutritional information on 612 yoghurts launched between 2016 and 2021. She used the Nutrient Rich Foods (NRF) Index, which assigns points based on the nutrient density of foods. D’Andrea writes in the paper: “This allowed us to compare yogurt nutrition based on recommended nutrients (protein, fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin D) and restricted nutrients (saturated fat, total sugars, sodium) density.”
The researchers chose the NRF model based on the nutritional value of dairy yogurt, which provides complete protein in a way that plant-based yogurts cannot.
Of the 612 yogurts analyzed, 159 were full-fat dairy, 303 were low-fat and nonfat dairy, 61 were coconut-flavored, 44 were almond-flavored, 30 were cashew-flavored, and 15 were Oatmeal. Using the NRF Index, the researchers ranked the yogurts from most to least nutrient dense: almonds, oats, low-fat and nonfat dairy, full-fat dairy, cashews, and coconut.
One option the researchers offered was to create a hybrid plant-based and dairy yogurt. This will increase protein, vitamin B12 and calcium while minimizing total sugar, sodium and saturated fat.
“Going from dairy-based to plant-based is a big change,” says paper author Alissa Nolden. “There’s a change in the nutritional content and a change in taste, which may deter consumers from trying it.”
“But blending offers advantages,” says Nolden. “It provides a complete protein, and dairy helps create the gelled structure in yogurt, something we haven’t been able to replicate in plant-based systems so far.” structure.”
The team say their findings suggest a way to maximize the nutritional and functional properties of yogurt, but further research based on this is warranted.