If you are an avid yogurt eater, you know that Greek Yogurt is regular yogurt’s creamier, thicker cousin. Since many people find it as a healthier choice as compared to regular yogurt, it has become an insanely popular food these days.
But have you ever looked into it? Do you know what really makes Greek yogurt stand out compared to regular yogurt? Aside from the texture difference, that is. Below, we are going to explore all the goodness Greek yogurt has to offer and take a look at how it differs from regular yogurt.
What Exactly Is Greek Yogurt?
When you remove the whey from regular yogurt, you are left with what is called Greek or Greek-style yogurt. You would remove the whey from regular yogurt by allow it to rest over a thin piece of fabric for several hours. The whey then drips out into a separate container, leaving a thick, rich yogurt in the top bowl.
What is whey? Whey is the watery part of milk. If you allow a jug of milk to curdle, you will see the whey once the liquids and solids separate.
In countries outside of the United States, this yogurt is often referred to as Greek-style yogurt. This is due to the fact that many countries will not allow foods to be labeled after a country until they have been imported from that country. So unless the Greek yogurt is coming from Greece, it has to go by “Greek-style yogurt” instead.
All in all, Greek yogurt is a thicker, richer, creamier version of regular yogurt, without the whey.
Aside from Removing the Whey, What Makes Greek Yogurt Different from Regular Yogurt?
See, when the whey is removed from regular yogurt, a lot of the naturally occurring lactose is also removed. This changes the yogurts nutritional values up quite a bit.
For instance, Greek yogurt is higher in calories, fat, and sodium than regular yogurt. It is also higher in vitamin A and protein. However, regular yogurt is higher in vitamin B12 and calcium as compared to Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt, however, is lower in carbohydrates.
Are All Greek Yogurts Made the Same?
Just like almost anything you consume, not all Greek yogurts are made the same. There are many different methods used when processing Greek yogurt and if there are additional ingredients, the nutritional values of the Greek yogurts different from one to the next.
Some May Have Added Ingredients
As you know, the key feature of Greek yogurt is its texture. As we stated earlier, this is achieved by straining the yogurt for around 4 hours, removing the whey, leaving the creamy Greek yogurt behind. However, some companies like to shorten the processing time. This is achieved by adding in thickeners, including starch and whey protein.
This will add additional ingredients to the Greek yogurt, such as modified corn starch or whey concentrates. This changes the nutritional values. Some Greek yogurts also include added flavorings, which can increase the sugar content.
Generally speaking, all Greek yogurt can be considered vegetarian friendly. But despite popular belief, some companies add gelatin into the Greek yogurt to make the texture better. That means that an animal collagen is added. That also means that technically, that Greek yogurt would not be vegetarian friendly. To be safe, always remember to read the label when purchasing and consuming Greek yogurt.
The Fat Content
This is another good thing to check when shopping for Greek yogurt. The amount of fat in the yogurt will vary, depending on how much fat is in the milk that is used to make the Greek yogurt. If the yogurt is made from a full-fat milk, it will contain far more fat than if it was made from a non-fat or low-fat milk. Just check the labels, it really is not too hard to spot which Greek yogurt is made from what type of milk.
The Amount of Lactose Present
The way the Greek yogurt is produced may affect the amount of lactose present in the Greek yogurt, unlike the protein or fat contents. Considering that the most commonly used method to remove the whey from the yogurt is to strain it, thus removing a lot of the lactose from the final product, companies that opt to use thickeners do not strain the yogurt as long, therefore, not as much lactose is removed. This could prove to be a problem for those who suffer from lactose intolerance.
If you are concerned, while choose your Greek yogurt, make sure you either choose a lactose free brand or select one that has only live cultures and milk listed as the ingredients.
The Amount of Protein
If you have been searching for the right Greek yogurt for you, you have probably noticed that certain brands of Greek yogurt have more protein than others. Again, this is due to how the yogurt is strained and if extra protein has been added when the yogurt was being thickened. To find out if your Greek yogurt has a lot or a little protein, read the label!
As you can see, there are certainly some differences between Greek yogurts, depending on how they have been manufactured and produced. Always read the label before purchasing your Greek yogurt to ensure that you know exactly what it is you are consuming!
What Are the Benefits in Choosing Greek Yogurt Over Regular Yogurt?
There are many benefits to choosing Greek yogurt. Aside from being super tasty, it also contains many health benefits.
- Greek Yogurt is a Great Source of Vitamin B12 – Similar to regular yogurt in many ways, being an excellent source of vitamin B12 is one of Greek yogurt’s many perks. Vitamin B12 is crucial to a healthy diet and is used for many of your bodies necessary functions. Vitamin B12 is linked to the production of healthy red blood cells as well as ensuring that your brain and nervous system function properly.
- Greek Yogurt is an Excellent Option for Those Who Suffer from Lactose Intolerance – Due to the lower amounts of lactose found in Greek yogurt, people who are unable to process lactose may find Greek yogurt to be a great alternative to regular yogurt, since it lacks the major sugar found in milk. Since most who suffer from lactose intolerance can tolerate a little lactose, when the whey is removed from regular yogurt, leaving behind the rich, creamy Greek yogurt, even those who suffer from the condition may be able to enjoy the treat in small amounts. Since regular yogurt can lead to gas, pain and bloating in these people, Greek yogurt may prove to be a gentler, easier to digest option.
- Greek Yogurt does not Have as Many Carbohydrates – Since Greek yogurt does not contain whey, which is where most of the lactose is stored, it is lower in carbohydrates For people who are looking to limit their carbohydrate or lactose intake, this is an excellent option. Be aware, however, that some brands of Greek yogurt have added sugars. If you are trying to limit your sugar intake, it is a good idea to read the labels before picking out your Greek yogurt.
- Greek Yogurt is a Great Source of Protein – Greek yogurt is an excellent choice for a high protein snack and contains almost three times as much protein as regular yogurt. There are endless health benefits to eating a diet rich in protein too! High protein diets can lead to a healthy body composition, lower your hunger, and help to increase how quickly your metabolism works! Protein is also a great way to achieve your weight loss goals as well! High protein foods such as Greek yogurt, can help you feel full for longer, therefore leading to you consuming less calories throughout the day. That being said, Greek yogurt is an excellent option if you are currently trying to achieve your ideal weight.
- Greek Yogurt is Great for Your Digestive Tract and Your Overall Health – You know how yogurt is a great source of the good bacteria necessary for a healthy digestive tract? Well Greek yogurt is too! Greek yogurt is rich in probiotics that can help balance the bacteria in your gut, leading to better digestion, a healthier immune system, and lowering the risk of many diseases such as diabetes and obesity. However, just like regular yogurt, you may want to read the label to make sure that the Greek yogurt you are purchasing contains live and active cultures. This way you know for sure that the Greek yogurt you are grabbing for has all the probiotics you need for a healthy digestive tract.
Which One Should You Choose: Regular Yogurt or Greek Yogurt?
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt have countless health benefits and can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.
Bear in mind that Greek yogurt has less lactose and more protein as compared to regular yogurt. If you are trying to take in more protein or wish to follow a low carbohydrate diet, Greek yogurt is definitely your best option. However, if you do not like the taste or texture, or if you simply wish to keep on eating your regular yogurt, go for it!
Both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt may contain added ingredients and added sugars. To ensure that either option is the healthiest of its kind, make sure you chose a yogurt that contains live cultures and has milk as its main ingredient. All of you have to do is read the label!
Either option is definitely healthy and can give you countless health benefits.
Okay, So I Want to Eat Greek Yogurt – But How?
Greek yogurt can be enjoyed in all the same ways regular yogurt can. You can eat it plain as a snack or quick meal, you can put fruit on top of it or use it as a dip for your favorite fruits. You can use it as an alternative to mayo or use it as an alternative for cream.
You can turn it into a smoothie or blend it into another drink of choice. Greek yogurt can be frozen into ice pops or used as an alternative to traditional ice cream. You can use it as a base for many different dips or as a salad dressing even. You can even put it on top of your waffles and pancakes in place of syrup.
Greek yogurt is also a great addition to a protein shake! Then you not only are getting the protein from the powder, but the protein from the Greek yogurt as well! Talk about healthy! Greek yogurt can be used in baking and even mixed with herbs to be used as a marinade for vegetables or meat.
Greek yogurt is also a great way to start your day, therefore making an excellent addition to your breakfast routine! Pair it up with your favorite fruits, and bam, a healthy breakfast that keeps you feeling full all morning long!
At the end of the day, the possibilities are endless when it comes to ways to consume Greek yogurt. Be creative, you never know, you might find a new and exciting way to incorporate Greek yogurt into your diet!
Greek Yogurt Benefits Conclusion
At the end of the day, it does not really matter whether or not you choose Greek yogurt over regular yogurt. Though Greek yogurt is low in carbohydrates, lactose, and sugars, and is higher in protein and an excellent source of vitamin B12, regular yogurt has many great health benefits as well.
If you want to choose Greek yogurt, there are countless ways you can use it in your everyday life and every way will give you the additional nutrients you need for a healthy, well balanced diet.
As with anything, make sure you read the label to ensure that you are choosing the healthiest yogurt you can. Bear in mind that how the Greek yogurt is produced plays a role in its nutritional value. If you are lactose intolerant, you are going to want to pay special attention to the labels. This is also true if you are following a low carbohydrate or high protein diet.
Whether you choose to continue eating regular yogurt or wish to venture on a different path and give Greek yogurt a try, you will be reaping the rewards of a healthy addition to your diet. Did someone say frozen yogurt? Yum!