Greek Yogurt – Just Another Food Fad?
Written By: Christina Schoerner, MS, RDN
As a dietitian at Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts, our guests often ask me “what is the difference between regular yogurt and Greek yogurt.” Is Greek yogurt just the newest fad? Or it is worth making room for in your diet?
Greek yogurt has taken the yogurt aisles by storm the past few years, and it also has grabbed the attention of many dieters and weight conscious individuals. The main reason is this; Greek yogurt is naturally high in protein. Greek yogurts can contain up to 2x the protein that regular yogurt contains. The protein found in dairy (milk, yogurt, & cheese products) contains the 9 essential amino acids that the human body can’t produce, making it a ‘complete’ protein (this is a good thing).
How is it made?
-The production of Greek yogurt uses 3-4x the amount of milk used to make regular yogurt. Both regular and Greek Yogurt start out the same: milk and live cultures (probiotics). Next the yogurt is strained to concentrate the solids and remove some of the whey. This process also removes some of the lactose sugars, salt and water. What’s left is what everyone is raving about- a thicker, creamier yogurt that is higher in protein but lower in sugars and carbohydrates than regular yogurt.
-Just because it says Greek on the label does not mean it is always the healthiest choice. Check the ingredient list to ensure there are no unwanted ‘added’ ingredients. Check for added sugars and added thickeners and proteins (corn starch, whey concentrates, – “gums”). The more natural the better.
Additional benefits of Greek yogurt:
– Contains less lactose than regular yogurt and therefore is beneficial for those who are lactose intolerant.
– Provides 15% of your daily calcium needs (% based on a 2,000 calorie diet)
-Contains live and active cultures: Probiotics! I personally like to picture little tiny creatures in my belly working hard to keep my intestines in shape while helping my digestion and immune system.
Striking Differences in taste:
– Upon the first taste of Greek yogurt you will notice the tart flavor and creamy texture.
If going Greek is something in your future, I encourage you to try several different brands of Greek yogurt. Each has an individual taste! I just love the yogurt aisle – you can just choose one individual serving size to taste. No commitment to a 6-pack.
While trying to lose weight, always go for the non-fat yogurt choice. You are saving calories from fat but still receiving the most important benefits of yogurt: calcium + protein.
How do you “dress” Greek yogurt?
Save calories by picking the plain yogurt flavor and adding your own healthy toppings. The options are endless and I encourage you to get creative! Here are some quick and easy go-to toppings.
|½ cup fresh berries or 2 tbsp dried fruit|
|1 oz nuts|
|1 tsp brown sugar or honey or sweetener|
|1 tsp cinnamon + 1|
|½ cup dry cereal (fiber-rich)|
|1 tbsp dark mini chocolate pieces (makes a sweet dessert)|