Q: I have always heard that yogurt is good for you. Now I see all these Greek yogurts at the store. Are they actually healthier for me? What makes them "Greek"?
A: You are not the only person who has noticed more and more Greek yogurts in the dairy section. All nonfat yogurts with minimal added sugar and live active cultures should be included as a part of a healthy diet. Yogurt contains an excellent balance of protein and complex carbohydrate while being an good source of calcium. In addition to all the nutrients, yogurt can also contain live active cultures, which are a source of probiotics. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain healthy intestinal functioning.
Greek yogurt is unique to traditional yogurt because of the way it is produced. To make it Greek, the yogurt is strained allowing the liquid whey (a protein found in milk) to drain out. Some of the milk sugars also strain out with the liquid whey, lowering the sugar content slightly. The finished Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in sugar than traditional, un-strained yogurt. The flavor and texture of Greek yogurt will also be different than the yogurt you might be used to.
Greek yogurt is an excellent choice if you are looking to increase your protein intake. Protein can help you stay fuller for longer, so is great to add to breakfast or a snack. Studies have shown that adding protein to your breakfast may help you feel more satisfied throughout the day. If you look at the chart below, you will see that the Greek yogurts are also lower in sugar. Added sugars contribute to unwanted calories. It is always a good idea to read the nutrition facts label to help lower your intake of sugar.
Bottom Line: Greek yogurt and non-Greek yogurt are both healthy foods, especially if they are low fat/fat free and have a low amount of added sugar. If you want more protein, opt for the Greek yogurt.
*Both Greek yogurts above are available on campus at the UH Cougar Xpress Markets!
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