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5 Benefits of Greek Yogurt (and how it compares to regular yogurt)

Greek yogurt is a thicker, creamier version of regular yogurt.

It has become an increasingly popular food, especially among
the health conscious, and is often promoted as a healthier
choice than regular yogurt.

This article explores the health benefits of Greek yogurt and
checks out how it compares to regular varieties.

Jar of Greek Yogurt and Berries

What Is Greek Yogurt?

Greek or Greek-style yogurt has been strained to remove the
whey.

Whey is the watery part of milk. It’s visible once
the milk curdles, or separates into liquid and solid parts.

To remove the whey and make Greek yogurt, regular yogurt is
suspended over a bowl in a piece of fabric and allowed to rest.

It’s left for a few hours, so that the liquid whey drips
through the fabric, leaving behind a thick and creamy Greek
yogurt.

Despite being much thicker and richer (due to containing less
liquid), it tastes very similar to regular yogurt.

In some countries, such as the UK, Greek yogurt is often called
Greek-style yogurt.

This is because food labeling laws in these countries don’t
allow products to be labeled as Greek unless they were made in
Greece.

Summary: Greek yogurt has been strained to
remove the liquid whey. It tastes like regular yogurt, but it
has a thicker, creamier taste and texture.

What’s the Difference Between Greek and Regular Yogurt?

Two Pots of Yogurt and Some Berries

The whey that’s strained off when making Greek yogurt contains
a lot of milk sugar (lactose).

Thus, the straining process not only changes the texture, but
also some of the nutritional properties.

The chart below shows the nutritional breakdown of 3.5 ounces
(100 grams) of Greek yogurt compared to the same amount of
regular yogurt (1, 2):

Greek yogurt Regular yogurt
Calories 97 61
Carbs 3 grams 5 grams
Fat 5 grams 3 grams
Protein 9 grams 3 grams
Sodium 47 mg 46 mg
Vitamin A 4% of the RDI 3% of the RDI
Calcium 10% of the RDI 12% of the RDI
Vitamin B12 13% of the RDI 15% of the RDI

Summary: Greek yogurt is higher in protein,
fat and calories than regular yogurt. It’s also lower in
carbs and slightly lower in calcium.

Benefits of Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is highly nutritious and may offer some great
health benefits. Below are five awesome reasons to add it to
your diet.

1. It’s Higher in Protein

Greek yogurt contains 9 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100
grams), which is three times the amount found in the same
amount of regular yogurt (1, 2).

Eating enough protein
has been linked to many health benefits, including improved
body composition, increased metabolic rate and reduced hunger
(3, 4, 5, 6).

In fact, including a source of protein at meals and snacks has
been shown to help you feel fuller for longer, which could help
you eat fewer calories (7, 8, 9).

This means that Greek yogurt could be beneficial for people who
want to eat more protein, especially if they are trying to

lose weight
.

2. It’s Lower in Carbs

Bowl of Yogurt with Cranberries

Greek yogurt is made by removing the whey, which contains some
lactose, or milk sugar.

Therefore, gram for gram, it’s lower in
carbs
.

This can be useful for people who are trying to limit their
lactose consumption or follow a lower-carb diet.

However, if you are trying to eat less
sugar
, be aware that some flavored Greek yogurts can
contain added sugar.

3. It’s Good for Your Gut and Your Health

Like regular yogurt, Greek yogurt can contain good bacteria
that may benefit your health, particularly your digestive
health (10, 11).

These good bacteria are also known as probiotics,
and they work by changing the balance of bacteria in your gut
(12).

A better balance of gut
bacteria
has been linked to improved digestion, enhanced
immune function and a reduced risk of many diseases, including
obesity (13).

To verify that your Greek yogurt contains probiotics, make sure
the label says “contains live and active cultures.”

4. It’s a Source of Vitamin B12

Greek Yogurt in a Blue Bowl

Like regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is a source of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that you need to get from
your diet.

It’s involved in many important functions in your body,
including red blood cell production and the proper function of
your nervous system and brain (14).

Dairy
products
like yogurt can be an important source of vitamin
B12, especially for vegetarians, who eat dairy (15).

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5. It Contains Less Lactose

Lactose is the main sugar found in milk. Some people have a
condition called lactose
intolerance
, which is characterized by the inability to
digest lactose well.

Most people with this problem can tolerate small amounts of
lactose in their diet.

However, eating too much lactose can result in unpleasant
digestive symptoms, such as
bloating
, gas and pain.

Given that the process of making Greek yogurt may remove most
of its lactose-containing whey, it can be a better choice for
people with lactose intolerance.

Summary: Greek yogurt is high in protein and
vitamin B12, yet low in sugar and lactose. It may also
promote a healthy digestive system.

Are All Greek Yogurts the Same?

Like regular yogurt, not all Greek yogurts are the same. This
is because different processing methods and added ingredients
can change the nutritional profile.

Greek Yogurt and Banana Slices in a Jar

They May Contain Additional Ingredients

One of the key features of Greek yogurt is its thick and creamy
texture.

This is usually achieved by straining yogurt and slowly
draining off the whey. This process can take around four hours.

Some manufacturers shorten the processing time by adding
thickeners, such as whey
protein
powder or starch. This can result in a product that
contains additional ingredients, such as whey concentrates and
modified corn starch.

Additionally, some Greek yogurts contain added flavorings,
which may increase their sugar content.

The Lactose Content

While differences in production methods won’t affect the
protein and fat contents of the final product, they could
affect the lactose content.

Greek yogurt made the traditional way has been strained for a
long period of time and is naturally low in lactose.

However, those that have added thickeners often haven’t been
strained as long.

This means that they contain more of the lactose-containing
whey, which could make them more likely to cause a problem in
people with lactose intolerance.

If you’re worried about the lactose content, choose a
lactose-free brand or look for Greek yogurts that only list
milk
and live cultures as the ingredients.

The Protein Content

Some brands of Greek yogurt contain more protein than others.

This can be due to differences in the straining methods used
during the production process or may occur if extra protein is
added during the thickening process.

To find out how much protein your Greek yogurt contains, simply
check the label.

The Fat Content

The fat
content of Greek yogurt can also vary, depending on the amount
of fat in the milk used to make it.

For example, Greek yogurt made with full-fat milk will contain
more fat than Greek yogurt made with low-fat or non-fat milk.

This is usually easy to spot, as Greek yogurt made with low-fat
or non-fat milk will be labeled accordingly.

Vegetarian-Friendly Status

Technically, all Greek yogurt should be vegetarian-friendly.
However, some companies add gelatin (an animal collagen) to it
to improve its texture.

To be sure your product is vegetarian-friendly, check the
nutrition
label
.

Summary: Greek yogurts can vary in their
manufacturing process, ingredients and nutritional value. To
be sure of the contents, check the label.

How to Eat Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a versatile food that can be used in a number
of ways, including:

Mulberries and Smoothie

  • On its own as a snack
  • As a topping on fruit
  • As a substitute for mayonnaise
  • In smoothies or blended drinks
  • Frozen in ice pops
  • As a replacement for cream
  • For topping pancakes
  • As a substitute for ice cream
  • Mixed with herbs as a marinade for meat or vegetables
  • As a base ingredient for a dip
  • In a salad dressing
  • As an ingredient in baking

Summary: Greek yogurt is exceptionally
versatile. You can eat it on its own or use it as an
ingredient in snacks, baked goods or meals.

Should You Choose Greek or Regular Yogurt?

Both regular and Greek yogurt can be part of a healthy,
balanced diet.

However, Greek yogurt contains more protein and less lactose
than regular yogurt.

This means that if you are trying to increase the protein
content of your diet or are following a low-carb diet, Greek
yogurt may be a better choice.

That said, all yogurts can contain added ingredients, including
sugar.

To pick the healthiest Greek yogurt, be sure to choose one that
has milk and live cultures listed on the food label — and
little else.

To learn more about choosing a healthy yogurt, here is a
complete guide
.

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