You may know that yogurt is made by taking regular milk and adding healthy bacteria, called probiotics, to it. These special bacteria, commonly a lactobacillus species, go right to work on the milk, causing it to ferment – meaning that the healthy bacteria break down or “digest” some of the sugars and other components of the milk for their own use. In the process, the milk thickens and becomes more acidic, giving yogurt its signature “tangy” taste. Much of the remaining liquid, called “whey” is then strained from the partially thickened yogurt.
You may also have noticed that there has been a Greek invasion of the yogurt section of your market. Greek yogurt is certainly trendy right now, but what sets it apart from regular yogurt, and which should you choose? Here’s the lowdown on Regular vs. Greek yogurt, and which might be right for you:
· Regular yogurt is strained twice, while Greek yogurt is strained three times to remove even more of the liquid whey, giving Greek yogurt a thicker consistency.
· Both varieties provide many health benefits, such as calcium, protein, and probiotics. Let’s take a look at some of the individual nutrients in each type:
– Protein: Greek yogurt has nearly twice the protein as regular yogurt, approximately 20 grams per 8 ounces compared to regular’s 11-13 grams. So if you are looking to increase protein, whether for growth, healing, muscle gain, or satiety, Greek may be a good pick for you. But if you’re looking to limit protein or keep it steady, for chronic kidney disease or other reasons, regular will keep things in check.
– Carbohydrates: We all need carbs, a fancy word for sugars, in order for our minds and bodies to function optimally. But some people, especially those with diabetes, need to keep an eye on their carb intake. Greek yogurt has fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt, so if you are looking for blood sugar control, it may be right for you.
– Calcium: The major mineral for bone building and muscle function, calcium is extra important for children, teens, and pregnant women. Regular yogurt wins the calcium prize, containing about 3 times more calcium than Greek.
– Sodium: Greek yogurt has about half the sodium as regular, so if you are watching salt, take a quick peek at the nutrition label to see which one fits into your eating plan better.
– Calories: Greek and regular yogurt have similar calories. If you are looking to increase or decrease your calories, pay attention to the fat content and add-ins such as added sweeteners, fruits, granola, or other flavorings.
· Texture: Greek yogurt has a different taste and texture than regular, much thicker and creamier. If you want to use yogurt in your cooking or baking, Greek yogurt tends to give better results because it doesn’t curdle under heat like regular.
(Tip: Greek yogurt can be substituted for eggs, oil, creams, mayonnaise, or cream cheese in many recipes, cutting fat and calories while adding protein!)
· Price Tag: Greek yogurt costs more, partly because it is so popular and partly because the extra straining means it takes more milk to make the same amount of product.
· Taste: There’s one surefire way to find out which one is best for you – taste test!
Now that you know the details, it’s time to hit the shelves! Pick up some varieties, try them out in recipes, and sample until you find your perfect match!
Breakfast isn’t the only way to enjoy yogurt – both Greek and regular varieties are great in dips, sauces, salad dressings, smoothies, desserts, and more! Check out this link for some great ideas.
– By Morgan McManimon-Myers, BS Community-Medical Dietetics