The name “Greek yogurt” currently references how the yogurt is made rather than the country where it originated. Greek yogurt is made by straining out the whey (watery liquid part) of the yogurt. This process creates a thicker, creamier yogurt, reduces the liquid content, and increases the nutritional density.
Nutritionally, Greek yogurt rocks! Compared to traditional unsweetened yogurt, Greek yogurt has:
- Almost triple the protein content (15-20 grams per 6 oz serving), leaving you feeling fuller longer
- Half the sugar, about 5-8 grams per serving
- Up to 95% of the lactose (sugar in milk) removed, making it a better option for the lactose intolerant
- Healthy bacteria! Live bacteria have been shown to help the immune system and promote regular digestion. Make sure to look for the National Yogurt Association seal of approval. “Live & Active Cultures“
- Proven to keep age-related weight gain at bay, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine focusing on one serving of low-fat, plain yogurt per day
- Greek yogurt naturally has more fat content so beware of the saturated fat content, which can raise the “bad” cholesterol (LDL). When going Greek, stick to nonfat or low fat.
- Greek yogurt has less calcium than regular yogurt as some calcium is lost in the liquid whey. However, one serving still has 200mg or 20% of your daily recommendation.
- Compared to natural yogurts, the flavor can be tart. Add fruit or spices, such as cinnamon to naturally sweeten.
- Environmental experts are concerned that acid whey, a byproduct of the Greek yogurt straining process, may become harmful to aquatic life if improperly handled. Currently, acid whey is used mostly as fertilizer or as a protein supplement for animal feed, but as the popularity of Greek yogurt increases – Greek yogurt comprises 35% of all yogurts on the market – the issue of proper byproduct handling will become crucial.
Note: acid whey differs from sweet whey, which is a byproduct of making cheese.
Healthy Ways of Going Greek
- Opt for nonfat, unflavored Greek yogurt and DIY toppings toavoid added sugars and calories. Use fresh or frozen fruit and for extra flavor add vanilla, lemon or 1 tsp of natural sweetener such as honey, agave nectar, or molasses.
- A recent study showed that breakfast is the meal lowest in protein content. What better way to start your day than with protein-rich Greek yogurt for breakfast? Add healthy fat such as nuts (almonds, walnuts), seeds (flax, chia, sunflower) or homemade granola and you have a complete, balanced meal.
- Greek yogurt is very versatile. Use plain Greek yogurt as a cooking substitute for sour cream, mayonnaise, cream cheese, sauces, dressings or toppings. Tzatziki is one of my favorite sauces. All you need is yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon, parsley and mint.
Brands I like
- Chobani 0% Nonfat Plain
- Dannon Oikos Fat Free
- Fage Total 0% Plain
- Stonyfield 0% Organic Plain
- Yoplait Greek Plain
- 365 Nonfat Plain
- Fage Total 0% Strawberry Goji, Raspberry or Strawberry
- Stonyfield Oikos Organic with Superfruits or Vanilla
- Trader Joe’s Greek Style Nonfat Pomegranate
- Wallaby Organic Lowfat with cherries
- Wallaby Organic Nonfat with Mixed Berries
Edited and photographed by TCabrarr
Here’s the Scoop on Greek Yogurt. Environmental Nutrition. June 2013.
Not All Yogurts Are Created Equal. Environmental Nutrition. June 2011.
Whey-ing Greek yogurts environmental impact. Eatocracy. June 2013.
Giles-Smith, K. Milk Proteins: Packing a Powerful Nutritional Punch. Today’s Dietitian.
Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt. US News. September 2011.