Yogurt is a great source of vitamins, calcium and protein, suitable for a healthy diet and a great alternative to less healthy snack foods, desserts and toppings. When scanning across the local, neighborhood market for a tub or pack of yogurt, one may came across a type of yogurt that many are unfamiliar with - Greek yogurt. Here is a helpful explanation of the key differences between these two types of yogurts and how they are both beneficial to a healthy diet.
The production of yogurt consists of the bacterial fermentation of milk, where live microorganisms, known as probiotics, are added to the milk to help create the final product. Greek yogurt is made in a similar fashion, but with an extra process of straining and filtering with a cloth or paper bag to remove the whey. This gives Greek yogurt a thicker consistency that is somewhere between that of yogurt and cheese. The extra straining and filtering also prevents the runny, liquid build-up commonly found on the top portion of yogurt containers that have been stored.
Both regular yogurt and Greek yogurt contain probiotics, which are sometimes referred to as "good" bacteria. These probiotics are beneficial to a healthy digestive system by maintaining the balance of organisms found in the intestines. Probiotics used in the production of yogurt have also been found to strengthen the immune system and help battle illness and infections.
Yogurt is an excellent source of protein, which is important for muscle building and recovery. After a strenuous workout, yogurt can provide the protein needed to create the amino acids used for muscle repair. Protein has also been known for making people feel fuller, which is helpful for curbing hunger cravings. When considering regular yogurt or Greek yogurt as a source of protein, look to Greek yogurt as a more significant source. Greek yogurt tends to contain a higher concentration of protein due to the straining and filtering used in the production process. The higher levels of protein make Greek yogurt very appealing to those who exercise regularly.
Sugar, Sodium and Carbohydrates
The straining and filtering process used when making Greek yogurt reduces the amount of sugar and carbohydrates found in regular yogurt. This can make Greek yogurt seem more appealing to those with diabetes, or people looking to increase their protein intake, while reducing the amount of carbohydrates they consume. Greek yogurt has also been found to contain half the amount of sodium found in regular yogurt, which is another benefit of the straining and filtering process used in the production of Greek yogurt.
Calcium is important to the body because it helps strengthen the bones and teeth. Regular yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, especially for those who fall short of the recommended daily consumption of calcium needed for a healthy body. While Greek yogurt also contains a significant amount of calcium, it falls short of its regular counterpart. In fact, most regular yogurts tend to contain three times the calcium found in Greek yogurt, making regular yogurt the better choice for those looking to add more calcium to their diet.
Calories and Fat
When comparing Greek yogurt to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has significantly more fat and calories than the regular version. Those who prefer Greek yogurt, but are worried about the fat content and added calories should look for Greek yogurt made from nonfat or low-fat milk. Due to the increased consistency and creaminess of Greek yogurt, the nonfat and low-fat versions of Greek yogurt may be a passable substitute to Greek yogurts made from whole milk.
Greek yogurt tends to be pricier than regular yogurt due to the way it is produced. With the extra steps of straining and filtering, the production cost of Greek yogurt is higher than regular yogurt, leading to a higher price. Since Greek yogurt also requires additional milk to produce an amount equal to that of regular yogurt due to the straining and filtering. Escalating customer demand and lower availability are also factors that play into the higher cost of Greek yogurt.
Things to Remember
When making the decision between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt, it is important to consider the differences in health costs and benefits between the two. While one may contain more protein, it may also contain less calcium and more fat. Those looking for a dietary substitute to fatty snacks may prefer regular yogurt, while bodybuilders and athletes might find the high protein and low carbohydrate content of Greek yogurt more appealing. There is, of course, one more underlying factor that may trump the rest, and that is the difference in overall taste.