If you have young children, you probably recognize the Danimals brand of yogurt drink and may have even bought some for your children.
Was it the Hannah Montana co-marketing, The mysterious LGG, No High Fructose Corn Syrup, or the promise of “helping kids stay healthy every day” that made you choose?
We decided to take a look inside the product, to see just what our kids are getting…
What you need to know:
The nutrition panel informs us that each tiny bottle (less than half a cup) contains:
90 calories (not too bad)
3 teaspoons of sugar (holy moly!)
25% of the daily value of calcium (good)
10% of the daily value of Vitamin D (good)
Additionally, Dannon is happy to inform us in its marketing claims, that Danimals is the only snack that has natural Lactobacillus GG (LGG) cultures (i.e. healthy bacteria).
Here is the Ingredient List (13 ingredients):
Cultured Low Fat Milk, Water, Sugar, Contains Less Than 1% Of – Calcium Citrate, Modified Corn Starch, Whey Protein Concentrate, Kosher Gelatin, Natural Flavor, Fruit Juice and Vegetable Juice (for color), Malic Acid, Potassium Sorbate (to maintain freshness), Sodium Citrate, Vitamin D3
Lets take a look at each of them:
Cultured Low Fat Milk – Milk is cultured by adding (or culturing) bacteria to it. This is the healthy bacteria including various species of Lactobacillus that convert the milk “sugar” (lactose and galactose) into lactic acid, giving providing a slightly tart taste. This conversion is also called fermentation. It improves digestibility and increases shelf-life.
Water – this is a drinkable yogurt.
Sugar – 3 teaspoonfuls in less than half a cup!
Calcium Citrate (E333) - a sour salt used often as a preservative, but sometimes for flavor. Calcium makes up 21% of calcium citrate by weight.
Modified Corn Starch – a common food additive used as a thickening agent, stabilizer, or an emulsifier.
Whey Protein Concentrate - Whey protein is isolated from whey, a by-product of cheese manufactured from cow’s milk. In powdered form, it is used by body builders to increase muscle mass.
Kosher Gelatin – Generally, gelatin (E441) is a translucent, colorless, brittle, nearly tasteless solid substance, derived from the collagen inside animals’ skin and bones. It is commonly used as a gelling agent. It is in almost every “gummy” confectionery as well as other products such as marshmallows and some low-fat yogurt. Kosher dietary laws don’t allow for gelatin from animal products in dairy. Vegetable sources are agar-agar (a seaweed), carrageenan, or pectin.
Natural Flavor – Unfortunately, Dannon won’t tell us what that flavor is.
Fruit Juice and Vegetable Juice (for color) – Did you really think that the bright red colors and the name “Strawberry Explosion” meant there would be any sizable amount of fruit in here?
Malic Acid (E296) - Malic acid is the source of extreme tartness in Granny Smith apples, cherries and some kinds of tart candies.
Potassium Sorbate (E202) – used to inhibit molds and yeasts in many foods, such as cheese, wine, yogurt, dried meats, apple cider and baked goods.
Sodium Citrate (E331) – used as a food additive, usually for flavor or as a preservative. It is also used in certain varieties of club soda to add a tanginess. It is also used as an acidity regulator.
Vitamin D3 - A type of vitamin D. Vitamin D regulates the calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood by promoting their absorption from food.
While it is nice that Dannon is the only yogurt snack with LGG, there are plenty of other good bacteria present in other, less sweetened yogurts. If Dannon would have gone a bit easier on the sugar, and added substantially more real fruit juice to their product, it would be much more appealing. The fact that Dannon emphasizes the absence of HFCS is another indicator of marketing to confused parents that suddenly think sugar is fine to consume. Both suagr and HFCS are bad in the quantities consumed by today’s youth.
What to do at the supermarket:
Products marketed to kids are usually high in sugar content. You will serve your children better by getting them to eat a “grown up” yogurt with less sugar.
Here’s how to make a Danimal-like treat in 90 seconds: place a cup of plain yogurt, half a cup of water, a few strawberries, and a spoonful of brown sugar into blender, and mix for 30 seconds. You’ll get all the benefits of Danimals plus real fruit, minus the extra sugar.
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