Yes, Greek Yogurt is Good for You. Here’s Why.
Thick and creamy Greek yogurt is packed with nutrients. If you love dairy, it’s a super healthy food to include in your diet! In this post, learn all about Greek yogurt and its benefits, straight from a Registered Dietitian.
Table of Contents
- What is Greek yogurt?
- Greek yogurt nutrition benefits
- What to do with Greek yogurt
- Best Greek yogurt to buy
What is Greek yogurt?
Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that is a staple food in many cultures, and has been for thousands of years. There are several types of yogurt available, including Greek yogurt, skyr, and kefir.
Greek yogurt is a type of yogurt that has been strained, which removes the whey and other liquids found in regular yogurt.
Difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt
The process of making Greek yogurt and regular yogurt starts the same. Yogurt is made by heating milk with the addition of live bacteria. The bacteria converts the naturally occurring sugar in the milk – lactose – into lactic acid. The whole process leads to a thickened creamy product with a tangy flavor – yogurt!
Greek yogurt is made by taking regular yogurt and straining it. The result is a thicker yogurt product with more protein than regular yogurt. Nutritionally, Greek yogurt and regular yogurt do have some differences.
The table below outlines some key nutrient differences between one 7 ounce serving of plain low-fat Greek yogurt and plain low-fat regular yogurt:
|Plain low-fat Greek yogurt||Plain low-fat regular yogurt|
As you can see, Greek yogurt has less carbohydrate and calcium than regular yogurt, but more protein. Greek yogurt is also slightly higher in calories and fat.
What does Greek yogurt taste like?
Greek yogurt has a tangy and slightly sour taste. Fat free Greek yogurt has the most sour flavor, with full fat Greek yogurt tasting richer and more balanced. In terms of texture, Greek yogurt is quite thick, smooth, and creamy.
Greek yogurt nutrition benefits
Why is Greek yogurt good for you? Including Greek yogurt in your diet has several health benefits!
- High in protein. Greek yogurt is an excellent source of high quality protein. It contains significantly more protein than regular yogurt. For those who follow a vegetarian diet, dairy products are an easy and affordable way to include more protein in the diet – especially Greek yogurt! Try a recipe with Greek yogurt to support your recovery after a workout.
- Good source of calcium. This mineral is important for more than just bone health! Calcium is involved in muscle contraction, nerve function, heart rate regulation, and keeping teeth healthy. A 7-ounce serving of low-fat Greek yogurt provides 18 percent of your daily calcium needs.
- Provides several other micronutrients. In addition to calcium, Greek yogurt contains other vitamins and minerals. A 7-ounce serving of low-fat Greek yogurt provides:
- 180 mcg Vitamin A (20 percent of your daily needs)
- 0.466 mg riboflavin (36 percent of your daily needs)
- 0.940 mg pantothenic acid (19 percent of your daily needs)
- 1.04 mcg Vitamin B12 (43 percent of your daily needs)
- 274 mg phosphorus (39 percent of your daily needs)
- 24.8 mcg selenium (45 percent of your daily needs)
- Good for gut health. Greek yogurt is a fermented food, so it contains beneficial probiotics. These probiotics in Greek yogurt are healthy bacteria that live in our digestive tract and have many health benefits. Probiotics are important for good digestion, immune function, and may reduce the risk of certain diseases.
What to do with Greek yogurt
Wondering what to make with Greek yogurt? It’s a super versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes, beyond just a yogurt and fruit parfait! Some Greek yogurt recipe ideas include:
- Tzatziki sauce
- A smoothie with Greek yogurt
- Overnight oats with Greek yogurt
- Papaya boats stuffed with Greek yogurt
- Whipped goat cheese dip – use Greek yogurt in place of cream cheese
- Red cabbage slaw for tacos – use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream
- Add Greek yogurt to egg frittatas to make them extra rich and fluffy
- Use it to make a yogurt sauce for veggies
- Bake with Greek yogurt
Best Greek yogurt to buy
With so many Greek yogurt varieties on the shelves today, which ones should you be buying?
Many flavored Greek yogurts have a lot of added sugar to them. To avoid consuming excess added sugar, opt for plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it to taste at home, using fruit, or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. You may also find lower sugar flavored Greek yogurt options, if you prefer flavored Greek yogurt to plain.
What’s the best fat content in Greek yogurt to buy?
You’ll find Greek yogurt in three main fat contents: fat free, low-fat (2% milk fat), or full fat (4% or higher milk fat). The fat found in Greek yogurt mostly comes from saturated fat.
Depending on your preferences and goals, you can include any fat content of Greek yogurt into your diet and still get nutrition benefits. Low fat or full fat Greek yogurt has more calories, but will be more filling and satiating. Alternatively, fat free Greek yogurt provides fewer calories, making it a good option to add other filling foods to, like fruit, nut butter, or granola.
You might also prefer the richer, creamier texture of low-fat and full fat Greek yogurt for certain culinary purposes. And since fat free yogurt tends to be the most sour, you may like it for dishes in which the tanginess compliments the other flavors.
My two favorite brands of Greek yogurt that you can find in most grocery stores are Fage and Chobani. I also love Siggi’s, which is technically Icelandic skyr, but is similar in taste and nutrition to Greek yogurt.