Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt
Throughout recent years, Greek yogurt has gained an increasing amount of popularity from consumers. This creamy, rich-tasting derivative of regular yogurt is such a versatile ingredient or stand-alone food, it’s hard not to follow the trend! But is Greek yogurt more nutritious than regular yogurt?
Greek yogurt is produced by straining out the extra whey from regular yogurt, which gives it a thicker texture, while bringing out the tangy yogurt flavor. One cup of nonfat Greek yogurt contains an average of 133 calories with a whopping 23g of protein! This extra protein in Greek yogurt is great for promoting fullness, and is especially appealing for vegetarians who may have a harder time meeting protein needs. During the straining process, a significant amount of lactose (milk sugar) is also lost, therefore reducing the amount of sugar from 19g in regular yogurt to 7g in Greek yogurt, making it an especially viable option for those who follow low-sugar diets. Greek yogurt also contains an average of 81mg of sodium in a 1 cup serving, rather than 189mg which is found in its’ regular yogurt counterpart.
While the straining of regular yogurt to form Greek yogurt has many benefits, it also has some drawbacks. One cup of nonfat regular yogurt contains an average of 488mg of calcium (49% of the daily value), whereas only 248mg of calcium (25% DV) is retained in Greek yogurt. Calcium is important for building strong bones and teeth, among other important functions, so regular yogurt may be a better option if you have a difficult time reaching your recommended calcium levels, though Greek yogurt still offers a significant amount. Regular yogurt also contains an average of 625mg potassium (18% DV), versus 317mg of potassium (9% DV) in Greek yogurt.
The Verdict: though Greek yogurt and regular yogurt contain approximately the same number of calories, Greek yogurt offers more than double the amount of protein with less than half of the sugar. However, regular yogurt boasts an impressive nutrient profile with higher levels of calcium and potassium. Both of these yogurts are great options and can both help you to meet your dietary needs in different ways, while offering a large number of probiotics--gut healthy bacteria that aid in digestion, among other benefits. Note: be sure to check Nutrition Facts labels before purchasing either form of yogurt. When possible, try to choose nonfat or low-fat variations and opt for plain rather than flavored options. Their flavored counterparts often gain their sweet tastes with a significant amount of added sugars. Try to sweeten them on your own with honey, maple syrup, or fresh fruit to be more in control of your sugar intake.
Bonus tip! Greek yogurt can often make a great alternative to sour cream, butter, mayonnaise, and cream cheese. Try making this swap in future recipes to save on calories and fat!
Kaylynn Carew, WOTFV AmeriCorps Member