If I had to pick one food that seems to be gracing more tables these days, it’s Greek yogurt. Thick, creamy, tangy, it’s a perfect base for many a food. Today, Nicole Rohrig, soon-to-be-RD who is interning with us this summer, tells us all about it. You can also find Nicole on her own blog Food Enthusiasm: A New Look for Nutrition.
Greek yogurt has exploded in popularity over the past few years, taking over much of the yogurt section in the grocery stores. You may have noticed that it’s a bit more costly than regular yogurt, but what else makes it different? These two yogurt products contain the same ingredients, but the manufacturing process allows them to take on different textures, flavors, and nutritional values. Greek yogurt can be enjoyed as a healthy breakfast or snack on the go.
The question is… how does greek yogurt stack up to regular yogurt?
Yogurt is made from milk that has been fermented by healthy bacteria, giving it that tangy flavor. The mixture is then strained through cheesecloth to remove some of the liquid. Regular yogurt is strained twice while Greek yogurt is strained three times, giving it a creamier and thicker texture.
If plain Greek yogurt isn’t your thing, don’t fret. There are a variety of flavors available to keep your taste buds satisfied, regardless of your mood.
Yogurt may help with weight loss because it’s a whole food that’s full of nutrients while being low in calories and fat. Greek yogurt is the ultimate protein powerhouse food. Depending on the brand it can have two to three times more protein when compared to regular yogurt. For example, one 6oz cup of Chobani Greek yogurt has 18 grams of protein (~36% of your daily needs) compared to 6 grams of protein in Yoplait yogurt. This extra protein fights hunger and may help you feel more satisfied. In general, fat-free Greek yogurt has about the same amount of calories as regular yogurt (~140 calories per cup) but less sugar and carbohydrates. Look at the Nutrition Facts label to compare the sugar content of the flavored types.
Added benefit: Probiotics
Yogurt contains probiotics, L. Bulgaricus and L. Acidophilus being the most prevalent, which lend a helping hand to the “healthy bacteria” in our intestines. These bacteria aid in digestive health and regularity. Almost 80% of our immune system is found in the digestive system and probiotics can help strengthen the GI tract to improve immunity. Recent studies have also found that the use of probiotics may help reduce chronic inflammation by influencing cytokine function. Inflammation seems to play a role in chronic diseases like heart disease as well as abdominal obesity.
Did you know?
Even most individuals with lactose-intolerance can enjoy yogurt because the lactose is used as energy for the bacteria that ferment the milk.
10 ways with Greek yogurt
- Top 1 cup of your favorite flavor with fresh fruit and 1/2 cup whole-grain cereal.
- Toast a whole-grain waffle and top with 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt and sliced fruit.
- Top 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt with 1 Tbsp maple syrup and 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts.
- Make a smoothie! Blend 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, and 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen berries.
- Top a whole wheat cracker with 1 Tbsp of plain Greek yogurt, black pepper, olives, and grape tomatoes.
- Top a rice cake with 1/4 cup of your favorite flavor, top with raisins and diced apples.
- Make Tzatziki Sauce- This Greek dressing goes great on chicken pitas! Mix 1 cup of Greek yogurt, 3 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 cloves of chopped garlic, 2 Tbsp fresh dill, and 1 minced cucumber in a food processor or blender and mix until smooth.
- Substitute plain Greek yogurt for mayo in your next homemade chicken/turkey salad.
- Substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream in a vegetable dip recipe.
- Mix 1 tsp of cocoa powder into 1 cup of Greek yogurt and top with raspberries and 1 crushed graham cracker.
So, what do you have to lose? Give greek yogurt a try today and say cheers to health!