Quick Q&A on Greek Yogurt

photo yogurt 2Within the last five years, Greek yogurt has become one of the most popular health foods on the market, with sales more than doubling in the United States. Here is a quick Q&A to get you up to date on all the hype!

So what makes it “Greek” yogurt?

It is a thicker, creamier, higher nutrient-dense version of regular yogurt, with water, whey, lactose, and some other minerals strained away from the final product.

What makes Greek yogurt so special?

In general, this type of yogurt is claimed to be healthier than regular yogurt due to the fact that it can have up to double the amount of protein of regular yogurt with less sugar for approximately the same amount of calories, therefore helping to ward off hunger for longer periods of time. Greek yogurt is a great source of protein for vegetarians or those who do not want to consume quite as much meat in their diets. Also, it is loaded with good-for-you strains of live and active bacteria that support a healthy digestive system.

How do the nutrition stats between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt differ?

A typical six-ounce portion of Greek yogurt provides from 15 to 20 grams of protein, which is the equivalent of 2 to 3 ounces of lean meat. Regular yogurts tend to provide from 5 to 9 grams of protein per six-ounce serving. Plain Greek yogurt contains roughly half the amount of carbohydrates per six-ounce serving than plain regular yogurt. However, both Greek and regular yogurts can be high in calories, carbohydrates, and sugars when they are flavored or sweetened with added sugars or fruits. One serving of Greek yogurt also has about half the sodium content as the same amount of regular yogurt.

Are there any downfalls of Greek yogurt?

One disadvantage of Greek yogurt, excluding the non-fat varieties, is that it contains more saturated fat than regular yogurt. Another downside of Greek yogurt products is that by straining out the calcium-rich whey, the product supplies 15 to 20 percent of a day’s worth of the Daily Value of calcium compared to regular yogurt, which provides 25 to 30 percent. Also, Greek yogurt can tend to be much more expensive than regular yogurt due to the extra straining and high demand.

How can I incorporate Greek yogurt into my diet?

Greek yogurt is a very versatile product that can be enjoyed on its own or used as a healthy, lower fat substitute for ingredients such as sour cream, butter, oil, mayonnaise, and eggs due to its rich and creamy texture. Listed below are a few ways to incorporate Greek yogurt into your diet:

  • Toss a scoop of plain Greek yogurt with cinnamon, berries, and nuts or granola for an easy and healthy breakfast
  • Use one cup of Greek yogurt and one cup of water instead of the eggs and oil in a store-bought cake mix for a lighter but just as delicious dessert
  • Mix a packet of dressing or soup mix with low-fat Greek yogurt as a stand-in for sour cream in your next appetizer dip or dish
  • Replace half the mayonnaise with tangy Greek yogurt in egg, chicken, or tuna salad for a healthier lunch idea
  • Whisk together a scoop of Greek yogurt with olive oil, your vinegar of choice, and herbs for a quick and creamy dressing
  • Top your tacos with a dollop of Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a tangy protein boost
  • Enjoy your favorite flavored Greek yogurt all by itself for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up or late-night dessert

All in all, both Greek and regular yogurts offer good sources of protein, calcium, and probiotics that can be used as lower-calorie substitutes in numerous recipes or simply enjoyed on their own. If you’re already a yogurt fan, give the Greek stuff a chance, and if not, at least experiment with it the next time you’re in the kitchen!

Photo Credit: Emily Carlo, Melissa Heller, Rachel Weidt

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