Once upon a time, there was a group of people living in the Mediterranean called the Ancient Greeks. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. Their contributions to the modern world are numerous. They are credited with either inventing/discovering or being major contributors to everything from democracy to philosophy, medicine to mathematics, literature to architecture, and just about everything in between. Yeah yeah yeah, that’s all impressive, but have you tried their yogurt? Greek yogurt has burst onto the modern scene and is rivaling traditional yogurt for the lion’s share of the fermented dairy products market. So what exactly is Greek yogurt? Is it a good nutritional choice? And how does it stack up against traditional yogurt?
Greek yogurt, like all yogurts, is made by fermenting milk with live bacteria (good bacteria, don’t worry). What sets Greek yogurt apart is that it is strained to remove the whey (a type of protein in dairy), which gives it a thicker, creamier texture. Naturally gluten free, Greek yogurt is catching on all over the country and now occupies a much larger section in the dairy aisle than was previously the case. You know a food has hit the mainstream when Costco starts carrying multiple different brands. A couple of popular brands are Fage and Chobani, but many other food companies are now offering Greek yogurt as well.
So how does Greek yogurt do nutritionally? In a word: fantastic. Let’s start with the healthy bacteria that are naturally present in yogurt. These bacteria are probiotics. Probiotics are microorganisms that are beneficial to their host (you, in this case) and are a major trend in the diet and food industry. The healthy bacteria/probiotics that are found in yogurt offer many positive health benefits. They help keep your gut in good health, which leads to less inflammation, less diarrhea/constipation, and a stronger overall immune system. And as you’re probably aware, the gut is the site of many of the major issues associated with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other digestive disorders that are becoming increasingly common in America. If you’re having any issues at all with your gut and/or digestion, adding more yogurt to your diet would probably be a good move.
Beyond the benefits of the probiotics found in yogurt (both Greek and traditional), Greek yogurt also packs a good nutritional punch for other reasons. It is a great source of calcium, a nutrient often lacking in the diets of older adults. One aspect where Greek yogurt really outshines its traditional counterparts is in protein content. Greek yogurt usually has about twice the protein of regular yogurt, and it is important to keep in mind that yogurt’s protein is a complete one, making it even healthier. Greek yogurt also shines, especially in comparison with regular yogurt, in respect to its sugar content. Greek yogurt has about half the sugar of traditional yogurt, and the more we learn about sugar, the more dangerous we find it to be. One important thing to keep in mind with yogurt is to always buy the low or non-fat versions. Full fat versions of both regular and Greek yogurt still do contain healthful bacteria, protein, and calcium, but full fat yogurt will be much higher in cholesterol-raising saturated fat. That’s one great thing about low-fat Greek yogurt: you get the rich, creamy texture without all of the fat.
Greek yogurt, like everything else, does have its downsides too. It is more expensive than regular yogurt, usually by about 2 or 3 times. It is also less “green” (or environmentally sustainable) than regular yogurt because it takes about 4 times as much milk to make Greek yogurt as it does to make the same amount of regular yogurt. But either way, and especially for those suffering from gastrointestinal issues, some sort of low-fat yogurt should be a regular part of your diet. Greek yogurt is probably the healthiest form available, with its high protein and calcium content paired with its low sugar. And like all yogurt, it does contain healthy bacteria that confer all sorts of great health benefits. So if you or someone in your life needs more protein or calcium, or simply wishes to have a healthier overall body and gastrointestinal system, just get him or her to the Greek…yogurt aisle, that is.
Article Courtesy: Andrew Steingrube