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Yogurt

Which is Healthier, Greek Yogurt or Regular Yogurt?

4 Minute Read

This article answers the following questions:

  • What is the difference between Greek yogurt and regular?
  • What kind of Greek yogurt is best?
  • Should you avoid flavored yogurts?
  • What about fat percentages?

Which of the common brands have the healthiest Greek-style
and regular style Yogurts?

Many people who didn’t think they like yogurt really like Greek yogurt because it’s is thicker, creamier, and less sour than regular yogurt. But is it as good for you as regular yogurt? The answer may surprise you!

What’s the difference between Greek and regular yogurt?

How it’s made:

All dairy-based yogurt, both Greek and regular, is made from cow’s milk that has been fermented by beneficial bacteria and the bacterial action thickens the milk into yogurt. The difference is that after the first fermentation, Greek yogurt is ‘strained’ though a cheesecloth-like material so that more of the liquid whey is removed from Greek yogurt than regular yogurt. When making regular yogurt, there is no straining and all the sour tasting whey remains in the final product. The straining or lack of straining accounts for the flavor and the nutritional differences.

Greek yogurt has more protein, less acid and fewer minerals

Whey strained away during the making of Greek yogurt is high in the acids produced during the fermentation of milk. It’s also high in minerals. With less whey and relatively more of the solid materials that are high in protein, Greek yogurt is not only thicker, it’s higher in protein and less sour tasting than regular yogurt. It’s a little bit like cheese that way.

Because the liquid whey that’s strained out of Greek yogurt is high in minerals and certain vitamins, Greek yogurt is lower in minerals and some of the vitamins (see chart).

Best brands of Greek Yogurt and Regular Yogurt

What about probiotics?

Both kinds of yogurts are great source of good bacteria that may live on in your gut and help protect you from pathogens, and a good source of food for good bacteria, called prebiotics, that the bacteria in the yogurt make to feed the next generation of their little bacteria babies.

Source: “The evolution, processing, varieties and health benefits of yogurt”

Is Greek yogurt healthy?

Yes, unless it’s got tons of added sugar.

What makes Greek yogurt healthy?

The same thing that makes regular yogurt healthy. First of all, yogurt is a traditional food and the importance of yogurt to human nutrition is evidenced by the many variations of yogurt people on multiple continents traditionally produce.

Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that was traditionally made from raw (not homogenized or pasteurized) milk from animals that grazed on grass. Thus, yogurt encapsulates 2 of the 4 Pillars of a Human Diet.

Secondly, it’s an animal product and in general animals bioconcentrate nutrients for us, so animal-based foods have the potential to be far more nutritious than your average fruit or vegetable. But not all yogurt is created equal because not all cows live equally well.

The healthiest yogurts can only come from grass-fed cows!

Most dairy products available in US grocery stores come from cows that were kept indoors, and fed corn and soy, which makes the cows sickly and their milk less nutritious. Treating cows well by allowing them to live on grass and walk in the sunshine vastly improves the nutritional value of milk (and cheese, butter, etc.). For example, grass based dairy products contain far more vitamin K2, A, and omega-3 fatty acids.

If you’ve read Deep Nutrition, you know I believe animals have a right to humane treatment, just like people do. So I talk a lot about how animals are fed and cared for whenever I discuss questions touching on animal products. I encourage folks to learn about the injustices suffered by conventional dairy cows and to support farmers who treat their cows better.

Supporting farmers who do it right is good for you and the planet.

So should I buy Greek or regular yogurt?

Given equal quality, the answer to this question is whichever style of yogurt you like better because you won’t need to add tons of sugar to make it enjoyable. I recommend buying unflavored yogurt that you can dress up into a little yogurt parfait with your favorite, low- or no added sugar jelly, granola (without seed oils), nuts (raw or sprouted are best), cacao nibs, etc.

Should I avoid flavored yogurts?

‘Flavored’ yogurts should really be called ‘sugar sweetened yogurts,’ since they often contain more sugar than a candy bar. Adding sugar during the fermentation may weaken the good bacteria and the ability of the bacteria to make their own pre-biotics, so I recommend getting unflavored yogurt and adding your own flavoring agents—it will save you money and be tastier and healthier.

I get this question a lot: What about vanilla? But yes vanilla is sweetened, too, with tons of sugar. Keep in mind that vanilla yogurt is not plain yogurt.

What about fat percentages?

I advise against low-fat dairy products because they’re higher in sugar and without fats, many vitamins are also missing, especially vitamins A and K.

It’s almost impossible to find flavored yogurt with any fat in it, most flavored yogurts are fat-free.

Dairy fat is one of the healthiest kinds of fats there is. The dairy fats in yogurt are a very healthy source of energy, in spite of what the American Heart Association wants you to believe. The AHA is an evil organization and should be held accountable for crimes against humanity. You want all the dairy fat you can get, so the higher the fat percentage, the better.

What’s the best way to enjoy unflavored yogurt?

Dress it up with your favorite, nuts, seeds, jelly, and a splash of vanilla. I also top mine with hemp hearts, unsweetened coconut flakes, cacao nibs, and occasionally cinnamon and/or fennel.

One of the best combinations ever is a combination of Brad’s Macadamia Masterpiece and pumpkin butter. Taste’s like pumpkin cheesecake! I eat it as a dessert.

So bottom line, Greek and regular yogurt have slightly different nutritional profiles and both can be healthy when you get a good brand. My two favorite brands are featured in the image at the top of this post.

Dr. Cate

With over two decades of clinical experience and expertise in genetic and biochemical research, Dr. Cate can help you to reverse metabolic disease and reshape your body.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Dear Dr. Cate,

    Firs of all Thank You for your educational e-mails which definitely contain life improving information!

    The reason I decided to write to you is because of an irregularity I found in your last e-mail. I am not offended 🙂 too many are offended these days, but I felt like I should suggest a clarification.

    In your last e-mail, in the World of Yogurts table there is a list named Country/island or region of origin. In this list I found it awkward to see Balkans and Balkan mountains but not Bulgaria specified as a country. Balkan mountains is a 557 km. range that runs throughout the whole country of Bulgaria and only small part of it runs in neighboring Serbia (part of former Yugoslavia). Please see picture attached. On the top of this geography fact I want to add that Yogurt is produced using a culture of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria. Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus was first identified in 1905 by Stamen Grigorov, who named it Bacillus bulgaricus. And Stamen Gigov Grigorov ( Bulgarian: ?????? ????? ????????; 27 October 1878 – 27 October 1945) was a prominent Bulgarian physician and microbiologist. My point is that if a Bulgarian national discovered the Lactobacillus bulgaricus bacillus, used in the making of yogurt, at least in the table of origins instead of Balkans and Balkan mountains there could be the name of Bulgaria, from where Yogurt originated.

    No hard feelings whatsoever 🙂 Just a clarification.

    Kind regards,

    Tzetzo Goranov

    Sofia, Bulgaria

  2. Is that an exact quote from one of my books? It doesn’t seem right. I actually do recommend olive oil on my website and in all my books.

  3. In his book, Colin Campbell completely misrepresents a study where rats with liver failure from hepatitis C were fed processed soy protein or processed milk protein called casein.

    Processed proteins are not good for anyone and animals with liver failure have a very hard time metabolizing certain amino acids.

  4. Hello: I noticed you did not comment on unflavored non fat greek yogurt like Fage that I usually buy. But… after reading your books I have switched to full fat non flavored yogurt.

  5. Dr. Cate,
    I’ve noticed that a lot of skincare products such as lotions, creams, lip balms, etc contain some bad oils. Specifically sunflower seed oil and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Obviously you wouldn’t eat these, but do they have the same toxic effect in your bloodstream when absorbed through your skin?
    Many thanks,
    Sheila

  6. I often come across the claim that extra virgin olive oil (EEVOO) is bad for high temperature cooking due to its lower smoke point.
    However there is also research claiming that “EVOO has demonstrated to be the most stable
    oil when heated, followed closely by coconut oil and other virgin oils such as avocado and high oleic acid seed oils.” (https://actascientific.com/
    There even seems to be evidence that EVOO is stable in deep frying conditions.

    In your book however, Dr. Cate recommends “The best chefs use saturated oils and fats rich in saturated fatty acids for high-heat cooking. Whenever using ingredients high in poly- or monounstaturated fats, they watch their dishes closely, stirring constantly and ensuring the more delicate fats, like olive oil, never smoke. So follow their lead: saturated fat for high heat. And use other quality, antioxidant-rich oils for moderate heat, but take care to keep these relatively delicate oils from smoking.” (FAQ section)

    How come that research seems to suggest olive oil is good for high heat cooking while your book does the opposite?

  7. As an ex vegan, i just started consuming dairy products, but i was told that casein in dairy products turns cancer on, is this true, whats your opinions about this?. Ive already started eating full fat grass fed dairy and some raw and fermented and i feel absolutely great, but i can’t help but think about the whole casein causing cancer dogma in the vegan community. Thanks

  8. i’m so lucky to live in France. Of course we have more and more grain-fed cattle. But we have still many pasture lands (thanks to mountains). And our labelled cheeses cannot be produced with grain-fed milk. Grass-fed raw milk is required for many of our cheeses. Highest saturated fat ratio i have seen is 77% (23 for 30).
    Raw milk cannot be found easily, but is allowed.
    I’ll try to find grass-fed yogurts, thank for this article :p

  9. My favorite was Organic Valley Grass Milk plain whole milk yogurt. I can’t find it anymore. It’s very hard to find plain yogurt. There are plenty options for sweetened varieties. I travel an extra 10 to 12 miles t a specialty store just to buy yogurt. My local stores have poor options. That’s such a shame. I live in a major metropolitan area.

  10. Loved your article on yogurt. Now, I need to concentrate on finding the organic and grass-fed ones you mentioned or similar at our health food store. Thank you for sharing this great knowledge and clinical nutrition advice.

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