Dannon Activia: A Healthy Yogurt Choice?

By Ted

2773-dannon-activia-selects.jpgDannon recently rolled out both Greek and French versions of their Activia® line.

I was sent a few samples to try out and despite my Monday through Friday no sugar diet, I put them to the test.

Dannon Activia® is marketed as a healthy yogurt that will regulate your digestive tract if eaten everyday for two weeks.

I won’t be evaluating that aspect as I’m already regular, but I will be taking a close look at the ingredients of these two new yogurts.

Dannon Activia® Greek

I was sent the strawberry variety and the taste has a very sweet, strawberry flavor with a thick and creamy texture. I did notice a slight, almost gritty texture at the finish of each bite. On the ingredients list is milk protein concentrate, so it’s probably this that is causing the grit.

This isn’t Greek yogurt in the traditional sense as it’s thickened with food starches and carrageenan as well as being supplemented with extra whey protein. The sugar content of Activia® Greek Yogurt is very high with 29 grams of sugar/6oz container. This is the same as eating about 7 teaspoons of sugar.

Greek Activia® is fat-free, but contains a few ingredients such as sodium citrate, potassium sorbate, and malic acid for preserving and tartness. While these chemicals are generally safe, are they necessary in yogurt? The usual natural yogurt that I eat has none of these.

Dannon Activia® French

I was sent the blackberry/rasberry flavor of this variety and it had a sweet, but nice berry flavor with the texture being very smooth. This one wasn’t as sweet as the Greek, but still clocked in at 23 grams of sugar/6oz container, which is like eating just under 6 teaspoons of sugar.

The French has 6 grams of fat and is thickened with food starches and pectin. It contains artificial flavors and the preservatives; sodium citrate and calcium citrate. Which again, don’t really need to be in yogurt.

Activia® Probiotics

Dannon Activia®’s number one health claim is the regulation of the digestive tract by consuming their product. Three active cultures are included in Activia®. The first two; L. Bulgaricus and S. Thermophilus are found in most yogurts. The third, Bifidobacterium Lactus is what they have trademarked Bifidus Regularis®. This is just a sub-species of B. Lactus, which is also found in many yogurts and food products. There is no evidence to support that Dannon’s sub-species is any better than B. Lactus in regards to probiotic effect.

Verdict

As I sit here typing with my heart beating fast from all the sugar I just ate, I really question the need for 7 teaspoons of sugar in a small tub of yogurt. Do people really need yogurt to be that sweet? It would be hard to find anyone that would sit down and eat 7 teaspoons of sugar back to back, so why then would someone do it disguised in 6 ounces of yogurt? This is almost as much sugar as a regular Snickers candy bar (30 grams).

Dannon, you could have two nice products here if you would cut down on the sugar and preservatives. I can’t recommend either product as a healthy choice. People would be better off choosing an all natural, plain yogurt and mixing in their own fresh fruit.

If you don’t believe me and want to try Activia® for yourself, they are giving free coupons via facebook.

10 Comments

  1. ted

    Hahaha I just saw on tv a commercial telling you to keep a video diary of how Activia helps you to be regular… Seriously? No one wants to watch a video displaying people’s regular bowel movements.. oh and you only have to eat 3 of the yogurts a day… what a marketing ploy…

    Reply
  2. Terry

    Michael – you bring up a great point about the sugar content. That was the first thing I thought of when I read the article is that approximately half of that is lactose sugar. I prefer Activia Plain as I don’t consume sweetened yogurts anymore (I would rather add my own fruit).

    Reply
  3. mneuwirth

    My name is Michael and I work for Dannon. Thank you for sharing all your experience with Activia Selects. We really care about our customers’ feedback and I want to provide you with some additional information about our products.

    The sugar content listed on the nutrition facts panel of our Dannon Activia Selects French and Greek styles is inclusive of lactose – a natural sugar found in dairy. The total amount of sugar listed – that which is natural in dairy and that which is added as a sweetener (in this case, the strawberry and blackberry/raspberry flavors you mention) – is the combined total.

    We agree that taking plain yogurt (non-sweetened) and adding your own flavors and fruits can be a great idea. You can try this with our Dannon Oikos Greek plain yogurt, which is made with just cultured non-fat milk and yogurt cultures. One container of Activia Selects Greek strawberry flavor yogurt provides several beneficial nutrients, including 12 grams of protein (24% of the recommended daily value) and 35% of the recommended daily value of calcium per 6-oz serving. The Activia Selects French blackberry/raspberry flavor includes 6 grams of protein (12% of the recommended daily value) and 20% of the recommended daily value of calcium per 6-oz serving. We make several varieties of our products to satisfy a variety of individual preferences, including a plain 24-oz tub which contains no added sugar, as well as Activia Light.
    Dannon Activia contains the culture Bifidus Regularis. Bifidus Regularis (Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010) is the name of the natural probiotic culture in Activia that has been shown in clinical studies to survive passage through the digestive systm, arriving into the large intestine as a live culture. Activia products help regulate the digestive system when consumed daily for two weeks as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Each serving of Activia products contain billions of natural Bifidus Regularis cultures.

    As more and more people talk about the health benefits of probiotic foods, it’s important that you have access to reliable scientific findings. For twenty years, the scientists at Dannon, in partnership with numerous independent laboratories, have conducted research on the beneficial effects of probiotics, including Activia yogurt.

    Thanks for trying our products. If you have more questions, please always feel free to contact us directly online at http://www.dannon.com/contact.aspx

    Reply
  4. Pater Rolf Hermann Lingen

    According to the German group “foodwatch”, Danone Activia is full of “advertising lies”.
    If you understand German, see here:
    http://www.abgespeist.de/activia/index_ger.html

    Reply
  5. Jennifer

    Plain greek yogurt sweetened with fruit or a bit of agave nectar is the way to go. I tried Activia once and thought it was disgusting.

    Reply
  6. Sylvia Johnson

    I really like the Activia French, since it came on the market I’ve been eating them regularly but I wish there weren’t as much sugar. I like the texture and the fruits at the bottom, very delicious!! But please, less sugar so people who are diabetic can also enjoy. Looking forward to your cooperation with thanks.

    Reply
  7. Health Coaching

    Really good points here!!its good to check and have some comparing on the food product that we are eating.This is important for our essential nutrients and its nice to have the right amount of sugar in the food..

    Reply
  8. Samiksha Tondon

    I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff on your post.

    Reply
  9. Spectra

    The whole concept of Activia is kind of a scam. If you buy any yogurt at all with live cultures, it’ll help you to grow a decent flora in your gut. You don’t absolutely need to have “Bifidus Regularis” in your system to be regular. Actually, a better way to cultivate a good digestive flora is to eat a lot of veggies and fruits. Many species of bacteria thrive on the fiber in those foods and help keep you regular.

    Reply
  10. LBC

    This is why I continue to drain my own yogurt (Dannon All-Natural) and add fruit as needed. Ugh.

    I feel the same way about Nutella. They market it as a healthy nut butter with a “hint of cocoa” but it has almost as much sugar as the tub of Pillsbury cake frosting I have left over from baking Fourth of July cupcakes, and far more sugar than peanut butter (which is also criticized frequently for having too much added sugar).

    I mean, don’t get me wrong–Nutella is tasty stuff, but there are lots of ways to get your healthy fats and protein without so much added-sugar baggage.

    Reply