Is Greek Yogurt Healthy?
When looking at the yogurt section of your grocery store, things appear quite different than they did just a few years ago. The number of Greek yogurt options has exploded in popularity. While most people really hadn’t heard of Greek yogurt about a decade ago, today it is found in the refrigerator of millions of people looking to enjoy the great taste and health benefits. In fact, from 2008 to 2013, the production of Greek yogurt has quadrupled!
While Greek yogurt is marketed as a healthier alternative to normal yogurt, there are some things to be concerned about. There is no doubt that it does have some nice advantages over normal yogurt, but that doesn’t mean you should consume it daily. Read on to learn more about Greek yogurt, and its impact on the body.
What Is Greek Yogurt?
Greek yogurt starts out in the same way that normal yogurt does, but it has some additional steps in how it is prepared. The yogurt is strained to help remove excess water, and in this process much of the lactose is also removed. This leaves the yogurt thicker, richer, more tangy than normal yogurt. This is because of the impact the straining has on the nutrients in the yogurt. Here are the significant nutritional points to note when choosing between these two options:
- Protein – Greek yogurt has between 12 and 21 grams of protein per serving. This is significantly higher than normal yogurt, which has around 9 grams of protein.
- Sodium – The salt levels in Greek yogurt are quite a bit lower than in normal yogurt, which is very important for many people. In Greek yogurt, you will find about 50 milligrams per serving.
- Carbohydrates – Greek yogurt has just 5-8 grams of carbs per serving. This is only for the plain version through. If you get flavored options, it will almost always have significantly more. Regular plain yogurt has two to three times as many carbs as Greek yogurt.
When looking just at the nutrients, it is clear that Greek yogurt is much better for you than normal yogurt. Since most people choose flavored varieties of yogurt, however, it is important to note that these options are far less healthy. Whether artificially flavored, or flavored with fruits, the amount of sugar in either type of yogurt is going to go up significantly. This is because the fruits used are loaded up with added sugars and syrups in almost all cases.
Great Source of Calcium
While Greek yogurt does lose some calcium in the way it is made, it is still a great source. If you are looking to yogurt as a key source of this essential nutrients, however, then you may want to go with the regular yogurt options sine they do have a higher concentration.
Excellent Source of Probiotics
Just like normal yogurt, Greek yogurt offers you high levels of probiotics. These are the living microorganisms that are essential for good intestinal health. Your intestines are responsible for a large amount of your overall immune system, so keeping them in mind when choosing what you eat is essential to good health. If you are looking for a great source of probiotics, Greek yogurt is absolutely a great option.
Be Aware of Fat in Greek Yogurt
When shopping for Greek yogurt, you will want to be aware of the fat content. Full-fat versions of Greek yogurt can contain 16 grams of saturated fats. This is because the fat is not removed in the straining process, and as with the protein and other beneficial nutrients, it becomes more concentrated. While fat itself isn’t unhealthy, it is certainly something that everyone needs to be aware of when choosing how much of it to have in their diet.
There are a variety of options for low or non-fat versions of Greek yogurt. Just make sure you look closely at all the ingredients. Some brands replace the fat with sugars or other unhealthy additives. In terms of health, it is typically going to be best to just go with the full-fat, unsweetened versions and only eat it as often as your particular diet plan allows.
So…Is Greek Yogurt Healthy?
As you can see, there are some very significant differences between normal yogurt and the Greek version. As to whether or not it is healthy, that will largely depend on your dietary requirements. You will get lots of protein, probiotics, lower sugars, and other great benefits. From that point of view, there is no doubt that this is a very healthy option for breakfasts, cooking or snacks.
On the other hand, you do lose some of the calcium and the fat content is quite high unless you opt for the low or no-fat versions. In addition, most of the brands of Greek yogurt (and normal yogurt) have lots of added sugar, so that is something to watch out for. If you don’t pay attention, Greek yogurt can be an unhealthy option for your diet.
The bottom line is you need to look at your diet and compare it to other options you have available. For many people, Greek yogurt will be an excellent addition to their meal planning. For others, it is likely something to be avoided or only enjoyed occasionally. As long as you know what Greek yogurt is, and about the impact it will have on your body, you can make a well-informed decision.