When embarking on a weight loss program, Greek yogurt continues to be all the rage and is a favorite food at our Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts. But are all products containing Greek yogurt really healthy?
As long as you are getting the non-fat version, Greek yogurt is a low calorie, high nutrient food packed with protein which can help keep you full and aid in weight loss. But be aware that packaged foods such as cereals and bars claiming to be “made with real Greek yogurt” actually contain only a small amount of yogurt powder which is heat treated, killing the beneficial bacteria that yogurt is known for.
The same goes for yogurt-covered raisins, pretzels, granola, etc. All contain yogurt “coatings” made from some combination of sugar, oil, whey and yogurt powder. If you check out the ingredients labels on these products, it is likely that one of the first ingredients would be sugar or another disguised name for sugar like dextrose, sucrose, corn syrup or cane syrup.
Manufacturers can throw whatever pictures or health claims they want on a package to make it appear healthy, but they can’t hide the actual ingredients. Always read the ingredients label and if it takes more than 15 seconds of your time or if there are lots of words you can’t pronounce, you may want to put that product back on the shelf!
If you’re looking for a healthy yogurt, the absolute best you can get is plain non-fat or 0% Greek yogurt, then sweeten it yourself with honey or stevia, fresh fruit or nuts. If you’ve tried Greek before, be aware that different brands can have a completely different taste and consistency. If you tried one and didn’t like it, don’t give up on Greek yogurt as a whole. Try mixing in different toppings or adding it into a smoothie to get an extra burst of protein without the extra sugar or fat.
By Megan Ware, RDN, LD