Architecture, education and politics aren’t the only great contributions the Greeks have made to western society. You may have noticed Greek yogurt lining the shelves of grocery stores big and small in the past few years. This dairy aisle staple is rising in popularity for a reason – it’s nutritious and delicious!
If you love dairy products or are looking for a new source of protein, look no further than Greek yogurt, which now comes in many varieties. Here’s your guide to this Greek goodie.
What is Greek yogurt?
Traditional yogurt has long been considered a healthy snack with its high levels of calcium, protein and live bacterial cultures. The Greek version, however, is kind of like the superman of yogurt.
Greek yogurt is basically an extra-strained version of regular yogurt. In the additional straining processes it goes through, the yogurt loses some of its less nutritious factors like sugar, while its super healthy properties, like protein, are concentrated.
Why Greek is great
The most substantial differences between Greek yogurt and traditional yogurt are its protein and sugar content, and its creamy, rich texture.
• High protein. In the straining process Greek yogurt goes through, it loses much of the liquid whey and other components, but maintains every last bit of protein, making it a more concentrated source of protein that will keep you feeling full longer. A typical 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt contains about 15 to 20 grams of protein, which is equivalent to 2 to 3 ounces of lean meat. On average, traditional yogurt contains 9 grams of protein.
• Low carbohydrates. The key components strained out of Greek yogurt are the liquid whey, lactose and sugar, which means it has about half as much sugar (and carbohydrates) as traditional yogurt. The reduction of lactose makes it low-carb, but also means it may be easier for people who have lactose intolerances to digest. Plain Greek yogurt has about 5 to 8 grams of carbs, whereas traditional plain yogurt can have as many as 17. Just keep in mind that any type of sweetener added to the yogurt will up the sugar and carb content – always read the label!
People watching their cholesterol should also stick to a low-fat or even fat free variety of Greek yogurt, since it can have high levels of saturated fat, the kind that raises “bad” cholesterol levels. Some calcium is also filtered out in the straining process, but it still provides about 20 percent of your daily recommendation. However, you can enjoy a lower level of sodium – Greek yogurt has about half as much as traditional yogurt.
• Delicious. Of course, no one can deny that taste and texture are important factors when deciding between Greek and traditional yogurt. Greek yogurt has a texture like sour cream, so even when you’re eating a fat free type, you feel like you’re treating yourself to a rich, luxurious dessert. Plus, whether it’s the protein levels or the rich texture, you feel entirely satisfied after eating it.
How to gorge on Greek
Of course, Greek yogurt is delicious in smoothies, with berries and granola and anything else you enjoy in your traditional yogurt.
If you’re into healthy cooking, you probably already know how you can use plain yogurt in a number of recipes in place of sour cream or mayonnaise. Greek yogurt is an even better way to boost protein levels in your favorite (savory) foods.
You can essentially use it in place of sour cream in any dip recipe, or in place of mayo in dishes like potato salad. But it can also be added to hot dishes like macaroni and cheese (sub it for milk) and added to baked goods like muffins for moisture and a punch of protein.