June 30, 2014
BBF Nourish: INSIGHT
~ a weekly look into topics that will help you lean a little further into great nutrition ~
America's preference for Greek yogurt is
growing...and fast. From 2008 to 2012 the percentage of
consumers who bought Greek yogurt grew 3% to 19%
and Business Insider called Greek yogurt "one of the
hottest-growing food categories of all time."
But is all the hoopla about Greek yogurt justified? Both regular and Greek yogurt come from milk that has had healthy bacteria added, causing it to ferment. During this process, yogurt thickens and takes on a slightly tangy taste. Yogurt is then strained with a cheesecloth, which allows the liquid whey part of milk to drain off. Regular yogurt is strained twice, while Greek yogurt is strained three times to remove more whey (resulting in a thicker consistency at the end of this process).
This additional third straining step is what makes Greek yogurt different from regular yogurt in several important ways. Greek yogurt contains less whey, lactose, calcium, sodium and sugar than regular yogurt. A single serving of Greek yogurt averages around 50 milligrams of sodium -- that's about half the sodium contained in most brands of regular yogurt. Greek yogurt also contains roughly half the carbs as regular yogurt -- 5 to 8 grams per serving compared with 13 to 17 grams in regular yogurt.
Because more liquid gets eliminated in the additional straining, producers need more milk to produce one cup of Greek yogurt than they require to produce one cup of regular yogurt. Consequently, Greek yogurt has more protein -- almost double the grams -- than regular yogurt, because it is more concentrated. Eight ounces (one cup) of Greek yogurt has about 17 grams of protein, compared to the 11 grams that regular yogurt provides. Because of its high protein content, Greek yogurt will help you stay full longer, which is key if you are trying to lose weight or maintain it.
All this makes Greek yogurt a great option for anyone trying to sneak in a little more protein into their diet. A word of caution: many makers of Greek yogurt add cornstarch, extra sugar and other additives to make it more palatable, so choose your brand carefully. Aim for the cleanest version by buying plain Greek yogurt and add a little Stevia, honey or fruit to sweeten it up.
Questions? BBF Nourish Director Beth Webster can be reached at email@example.com.