There’s been a lot of excitement recently over Greek yogurt with sales more than doubling over the past five years.
So What Is Greek Yogurt?
“The difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt is that they strain off the whey, [the watery part of milk that remains when milk is curdled] which makes it really thick and creamy," says Karen Roth, a clinical nutritionist. "And because they're removing the whey, there's less sugar, fewer carbohydrates, and a lot more protein compared to regular yogurt."
In fact, a typical 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt packs as much protein as 3 ounces of lean meat, making it a superstar snack for a healthy body. Protein not only helps build lean muscle and keeps you full, but a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a diet high in lean protein may be superior to a high-fat or high-carb diet when it comes to warding off weight gain and heart disease.
But since use of the term "Greek" is unregulated, and because the straining process can require costly equipment, some yogurt brands are pumping out "Greek" yogurts that haven't been made the traditional way. Instead, thickening agents like corn starch and milk-protein concentrate are added to mimic the rich texture of strained yogurt. The jury's still out as to whether these additives make for a nutritionally inferior product, but they certainly detract from the simplicity of traditional strained yogurt. Regardless, there are ways to determine whether products marked "Greek" are genuinely Greek:
1. Read the ingredients. "The best thing for people to do when shopping for Greek yogurt is to look at the product's ingredients list," says Roth. "It should contain only milk and live active cultures."
2. Steer clear of the shelf. Food producers have jumped on the Greek bandwagon by unveiling packaged foods like cereal and granola bars claiming to contain Greek yogurt. These foods don't have the same health properties as real yogurt. They often have a lot of added sugar, and if they're sitting on a shelf, they're not going to have the live cultures in them, so they're really just a sweet treat masquerading as a health food. Steer clear of these foods.
3. Don't count on live active cultures. If you want to ensure your yogurt is packed with probiotics—which have been shown to promote digestive health, boost immunity, and even prevent yeast infections—make sure the label says contains live active cultures, rather than made with live active cultures. You might want to alternate brands of yogurt to insure a wide variety of active cultures.
4. There are several healthy options to enjoy Greek yogurt. I especially like Costco’s Skotidakis Jalapeno Greek dip. It’s a great way to get veggies down AND get a fix of pro-biotics. My daughter is crazy over Chobani’s “flips” – greek yogurt with some little yummies you flip in for enjoyment. Her favorite flavor is Almond Coco Loco. Also some stores are now carrying Greek Yogurt Kefir (a drinkable yogurt).
So your challenge for this week is to enjoy some type of yogurt every day (for every day you include yogurt in your diet you earn the 5 bonus points) ! I would recommend you try Greek yogurt. If you have milk or lactose allergies I recommend you go to the healthy food store or Trader Joe’s. Last time I checked they offer a few alternative yogurts (Coconut milk etc.)