Championed by its makers – the guys who brought you Cheesestrings – as the ‘fun way to enjoy the healthy goodness of yoghurt’ with ample amounts of Vitamin D and Calcium you might think Yollies are 100% healthy for your children.
But all you have to do is think of its predecessors – Frubes, Munch Bunch, Mini Milks – which are promoted in the same way as a ‘healthy’ yoghurt snack for kids, yet they’re heaped full of sugar, heavy cream and modified maize starch.
I think what’s often overlooked by parents is the ingredients in their kids food. Instead they keep a watchful eye on calories but don’t pay any mind to the poor nutritional content of a product. Sometimes it’s not enough for a package to say ‘high in calcium’ – I’d prefer to see proof in its nutritional profile.
So I have a couple of questions about Yollies that I think need addressing, such as why are they so indulgent tasting when they’re actually healthy (or pretend to be)….
Why are Yollies so thick?
I’m always sceptical when it comes to a ‘thick yoghurt’. Unless natural yoghurt is used, the thickness is usually generated by high amounts of heavy fat-dense cream. And, as predicted, the 2nd ingredient in Yollies is cream.
What the manufacturers could’ve done is used more milk and a thicker, natural yoghurt as its main ingredients. Instead, they’ve pumped these yoghurt lollies full of heavy cream which they’ve thickened up with whey protein concentrate to prolong their shelf life. Sound tasty?
Why are they so fruity?
If you aren’t aware, juices and purees from fruits are digested in the body the same as traditional sugar. This is because the fibre is stripped from the original fruit, meaning all you’re left with is the fructose, promoting a quicker insulin spike.
Related: How much sugar is REALLY in your food?
Yollies use fruit purees for their fruity taste, and what’s worse is they’re from concentrate, meaning they’ve had their water content stripped from them, leaving just a high fructose gloop.
They’d be much better off adding dried fruits such as apricots or dates. When these fruits are dried they produce natural sweetness, as well as maintaining their fibre in their whole forms.
(Check out this tasty Low-Sugar Rum & Raisin Chocolate Pudding recipe for a chocolate ice lolly substitute!)
Why are they so sweet?
The third ingredient in Yollies is dried glucose syrup. Glucose syrup is one of the worst things to give your child as it sends blood sugar wild. Any sugar in syrup form enters the bloodstream quicker than traditional solid forms of sugar, which is why high fructose corn syrup (the stuff you find in a lot of processed foods, soft drinks and brightly coloured candies) has had such a bad rep of late.
Related: What does the Glycemic index mean and how do I control sugar cravings?
It not only promotes further sugar consumption – because your body craves more for more of the sugar hit – it’s also devoid of any useful calories. If syrup isn’t enough, more sugar and stabilisers are added to keep the ‘healthy’ lolly together, something so many of our favourite brands, even Subway, choose to do to make their foods look better on the supermarket shelf.
So where is the Vitamin D and Calcium?
Manufacturers are clever – they know that parents love the word ‘calcium’ on the front of their kids packaging (see here why nutritional packaging is usually false & misleading)– but you can say any product is full of ‘calcium’ as long as it has some dairy added to it.
This isn’t to say, however, that that same product isn’t loaded with sugar, salt and saturated fats. (I’m quite sure if people weren’t so clued in with the high levels of sugar and oils added to milk chocolate that chocolate manufacturers would probably try the same thing!).
The calcium in Yollies comes from the yoghurt, cream and whey protein concentrate, but this is counteracted by the glucose syrup, sugar, purees, starch and stabilisers.
Oh, and the Vitamin D. That was obviously just a marketer’s and manufacturer’s afterthought… just look at the ingredients:
Yogurt, Cream, Dried Glucose Syrup, Whey Protein Concentrate (Milk), Sugar, Apricot Puree from Concentrate (5%), Starch, Inulin, Stabilisers (Agar, Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum), Calcium Phosphate, Natural Flavour, Colour (Anthocyanin), Citric Acid, Vitamin D.
So where do we go from here?
Be wary of dairy products designed for kids. Manufacturers know that kids won’t just have a glass of milk, they’ll reach for the chocolate milk. They won’t simply have a bowl of strawberries and natural yoghurt, they’d far rather prefer strawberries with vanilla ice-cream. Sugary dairy products are everywhere, and these Yollies are no different.
If you want to give the best yoghurt lolly treats to your children (or even for yourself) I’d recommend making them at home. That way you know exactly what’s going into them and that there aren’t around 20 ingredients in something that should be heart-healthy.
I love this homemade yoghurt recipe by Sainsbury’s – http://inspiration.sainsburys-live-well-for-less.co.uk/recipes/frozen-yogurt-pops/ – all it involves is natural yoghurt, frozen whole berries and a little honey. Or for a more grown-up treat for you and the kids, how about a healthy fudgy homemade Magnum? No cane sugar, just natural sugars from bananas, honey and dates and no full-fat milk, just coconut cream. Yum!!