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5 Health Benefits of Greek Yogurt

Health + Wellness
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By Helen West

Greek yogurt is a thicker, creamier version of regular yogurt.

It has become an increasingly popular food, especially among the health conscious and is often promoted as a healthier choice than regular yogurt.

This article explores the health benefits of Greek yogurt and checks out how it compares to regular varieties.

What Is Greek Yogurt?

Greek or Greek-style yogurt has been strained to remove the whey.

Whey is the watery part of milk. It's visible once the milk curdles or separates into liquid and solid parts.

To remove the whey and make Greek yogurt, regular yogurt is suspended over a bowl in a piece of fabric and allowed to rest.

It's left for a few hours, so that the liquid whey drips through the fabric, leaving behind a thick and creamy Greek yogurt.

Despite being much thicker and richer (due to containing less liquid), it tastes very similar to regular yogurt.

In some countries, such as the UK, Greek yogurt is often called Greek-style yogurt.

This is because food labeling laws in these countries don't allow products to be labeled as Greek unless they were made in Greece.

Summary: Greek yogurt has been strained to remove the liquid whey. It tastes like regular yogurt, but it has a thicker, creamier taste and texture.

What's the Difference Between Greek and Regular Yogurt?

The whey that's strained off when making Greek yogurt contains a lot of milk sugar (lactose).

Thus, the straining process not only changes the texture, but also some of the nutritional properties.

The chart below shows the nutritional breakdown of 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of Greek yogurt compared to the same amount of regular yogurt (1, 2):

Summary: Greek yogurt is higher in protein, fat and calories than regular yogurt. It's also lower in carbs and slightly lower in calcium.

Benefits of Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is highly nutritious and may offer some great health benefits. Below are five awesome reasons to add it to your diet.

1. It's Higher in Protein

Greek yogurt contains 9 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), which is three times the amount found in the same amount of regular yogurt (1, 2).

Eating enough protein has been linked to many health benefits, including improved body composition, increased metabolic rate and reduced hunger (3, 4, 5, 6).

In fact, including a source of protein at meals and snacks has been shown to help you feel fuller for longer, which could help you eat fewer calories (7, 8, 9).

This means that Greek yogurt could be beneficial for people who want to eat more protein, especially if they are trying to lose weight.

2. It's Lower in Carbs

Greek yogurt is made by removing the whey, which contains some lactose or milk sugar.

Therefore, gram for gram, it's lower in carbs.

This can be useful for people who are trying to limit their lactose consumption or follow a lower-carb diet.

However, if you are trying to eat less sugar, be aware that some flavored Greek yogurts can contain added sugar.

3. It's Good for Your Gut and Your Health

Like regular yogurt, Greek yogurt can contain good bacteria that may benefit your health, particularly your digestive health (10, 11).

These good bacteria are also known as probiotics and they work by changing the balance of bacteria in your gut (12).

A better balance of gut bacteria has been linked to improved digestion, enhanced immune function and a reduced risk of many diseases, including obesity (13).

To verify that your Greek yogurt contains probiotics, make sure the label says "contains live and active cultures."

4. It's a Source of Vitamin B12

Like regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is a source of vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that you need to get from your diet.

It's involved in many important functions in your body, including red blood cell production and the proper function of your nervous system and brain (14).

Dairy products like yogurt can be an important source of vitamin B12, especially for vegetarians, who eat dairy (15).

5. It Contains Less Lactose

Lactose is the main sugar found in milk. Some people have a condition called lactose intolerance, which is characterized by the inability to digest lactose well.

Most people with this problem can tolerate small amounts of lactose in their diet.

However, eating too much lactose can result in unpleasant digestive symptoms, such as bloating, gas and pain.

Given that the process of making Greek yogurt may remove most of its lactose-containing whey, it can be a better choice for people with lactose intolerance.

Summary: Greek yogurt is high in protein and vitamin B12, yet low in sugar and lactose. It may also promote a healthy digestive system.

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