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Does Pectin in Yogurt Matter?

April 18, 2015
Ingredients + Yogurt

Half and Half

You have almost a 50/50 chance of buying yogurt with Pectin in it. And, just because you buy “organic” doesn’t necessarily mean your yogurt is “pectin-free.”

 

Analysis of ~ 1600 yogurts turned up this breakdown of yogurts with and without Pectin:

 

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(Note: I eliminated multi packs, variety packs, tubes, children’s staged yogurts, and yogurt drinks including kefir)

 

But does Pectin in Yogurt matter?

First off, what is Pectin?

Pectin is a natural carbohydrate extracted from the inner peel of many fruits. The amount of pectin varies in different fruits, in varieties of fruit, from season to season, and in progressive stages of ripeness.

 

It is most commonly extracted from lemons, as well as limes, oranges and grapefruits. The peels are washed, ground and processed to extract the pectin. The pectin is then refined, vacuum-dried and ground.

lemon lime orange grapefruit

 

Another common source is apples.

 

apple

 

Pectin is typically used to thicken jams and jellies as well as other condiments and yogurt.

So why is Pectin used in yogurt?

There are a couple of reasons why yogurt manufacturers use Pectin.

  • Consistency: Yogurt with Pectin is far stiffer than yogurt without Pectin
  • Appearance: Because Pectin prevents significant separation of the yogurt’s whey from the yogurt, yogurt with Pectin typically prevents this liquid from collecting on the yogurt’s surface
  • Consumers’ Expectations: Most US consumers expect yogurt to be thick and spoonable rather than tender and pourable

 

What should you do?

Buying yogurt with or without Pectin is your choice. However, Pectin isn’t necessary as an ingredient in yogurt.

If you do want to avoid Pectin, here are some interesting facts and figures to consider:

 

  1. Pectin Means More Sugar: Yogurts with Pectin have on average 3g more sugar. Given Pectin is derived from fruit, this isn’t too surprising, however, 3g is almost one teaspoon of sugar more.

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  1. Organic Uses Pectin More Often than Non Organic: Of the ~1600 yogurts, 16% were organic while 84% were not organic. Yet, Pectin showed up in organic yogurts at a higher rate than in regular yogurts.

 

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  1. Pectin Often Comes with Other Food Additives: I’ll be writing a more in-depth blog post on this topic, but Pectin, Gums (Guar, Locust Bean, and Xanthan) and Carrageenan are often listed together.

 

What yogurt brands do not contain Pectin?

Based on the data available, the brands listed below did not include Pectin in any of the ingredient lists on their yogurts available for sale.  As always please check the ingredient list on individual products at the store yourself to ensure the manufacturer has not changed the recipe.

  • Alpina
  • Athenos
  • Blue Bunny
  • Emmi
  • Hiland
  • Maple Hill Creamery
  • Meadow Gold
  • Nancy’s
  • Organic Valley
  • Pavel’s
  • Straus Family
  • Sunshine
  • Tillamook
  • Voskos
  • Weight Watchers

 

Bottom Line

As with Lecithin in chocolate, Pectin itself isn’t a food additive to avoid. It’s more what is associated with Pectin-more sugar, additional food additives and longer ingredient lists-that merit your awareness.

 

The next time you go to eat or buy yogurt, see if you’re eating one with Pectin or not.

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