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You Ask, I Answer: Greek Yogurt

fage-greek-yogurtI know Greek yogurt is thicker and firmer than regular yogurt, but are there any nutritional differences between the two?

– Julie Abdir
Keene, NH

Yes, slight ones.

Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt (even in its fat-free version) because the watery whey is strained out.  This straining process also makes Greek yogurt higher in protein and lower in calcium than regular yogurt.

Whereas a cup of regular yogurt delivers 13 grams of protein and 450 milligrams of calcium, that same amount of Greek yogurt adds up to 20 grams of protein and 150 milligrams of calcium.

Another bonus?  Since Greek yogurt is highly concentrated, it delivers a higher amount of probiotics than regular yogurt.  Remember, though, you always want look for the “Live & Active Cultures” seal to make sure you are getting beneficial bacteria.

Keep the same #1 yogurt guideline in mind when buying Greek varieties: buy the plain flavor and jazz it up yourself in healthy ways (i.e.: add dried or fresh fruit, nuts, ground flax, oat bran, etc.).

If you’re not into traditional yogurt consumption, try using Greek yogurt (0% or 2% fat) as a substitute for sour cream in a savory dip.

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6 Comments

  1. boriskat said on May 10th, 2010

    I adore Greek yogurt myself, but here’s a tip for your readers! I buy regular (nonfat) plain yogurt, and then strain it through a cheesecloth overnight. Instant Greek yogurt! And usually cheaper…

  2. Kristen said on May 10th, 2010

    My question has always been whether the straining really is the only difference between greek and regular yogurt. Because I follow a low-sugar diet, I only eat plain, nonfat greek yogurt. The price, however, is astronomical compared to regular yogurt. Can I really just strain the excess whey out of regular, plain, nonfat organic yogurt and come up with something nutritionally identical to the nonfat greek yogurt I purchase? Does the straining of the excess whey also eliminate some of the sugar in the yogurt?

  3. boriskat said on May 11th, 2010

    Andy? Can you address this question above?

    Kristen — my plain yogurt says it has no sugar in it, so I’m not sure what you mean by straining it out…

  4. Kristen said on May 12th, 2010

    Milk naturally has sugar in it, so my understanding is that, unless a yogurt is specifically processed to remove the naturally occurring sugar, all yogurt has sugar content. It just may not have added sugar from other sources.

    One cup of regular plain nonfat organic yogurt (I buy Stonyfield) has 15 grams of naturally occurring sugar. One cup of Fage nonfat plain greek yogurt has 9 grams of sugar. This is the discrepancy I am wondering about.

  5. Andy Bellatti said on May 12th, 2010

    There is no such thing as a yogurt that is free of sugars. While some yogurts do not have any *added* sugars, lactose (the naturally-occurring sugar in dairy) is always present (and is labeled as such on the Nutrition Facts label).

    To answer the question above, liquid whey contains a fair percentage of carbohydrates. When you strain out the whey (as you do when makinng Greek-style yogurt), you also shed a few carbohydrate grams.

  6. boriskat said on May 17th, 2010

    Thanks for the clarification, both of you! I rarely read the nutritional labels on my food (though I know, I should), so I figured if my yogurt didn’t have additional sugar in it — I eat Brown Cow nonfat — then there weren’t any sugars in it. Anyway, I’m happy to keep straining my yogurt rather than buying Greek, simply because of the cost. I don’t think those extra 6 g of sugars are going to keep me up at night.

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