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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).
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.
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.
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 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 the 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 cheese cake! I eat it as a dessert.