Tuesday, July 14, 2009


What to make of the Greek yogurt craze

Stroll down the dairy aisle nowadays and you will find yogurt in all different forms.

Whether it is spoon-free, drinkable, with added toppings or fiber, full-fat, non-fat, soy, custard or whipped – it seems an endless variety fill the dairy case.

Gaining in popularity is Greek yogurt, which is a blend of cream and milk. Here is what you need to know about this latest food craze:

- It has a higher percentage of milk fat (9-10%) compared to regular whole milk yogurt that generally does not exceed 3.5% milk fat.
- It is triple-strained instead of double-strained to remove much of the whey. This extra straining removes more water; resulting in a more dense, firm, and creamy yogurt.
- There are lower fat (2%) and non-fat (0%) varieties of Greek yogurt available also in the U.S.
- It does not contain pectin or other thickeners found in many American yogurts.
- It is often paired with honey and nuts or used to make tzatziki, a yogurt and cucumber sauce.
- Because of the lower whey content in Greek yogurt, it stays fresh longer and is less likely to separate or curdle when heated. For this reason, it makes a good substitute for sour cream on a baked potato.

A benefit of Greek over regular yogurt is its protein content. An average 8 oz cup of Greek yogurt contains 20 grams of protein, compared to 13 grams in 8 oz of the regular variety.

Greek yogurt is also lower in sodium (83 mg per 8 oz) than regular yogurt (175 mg per 8 oz).

One thing to note: If you are depending on yogurt as a calcium source, regular yogurt has three times more calcium in it than Greek yogurt. Regular non-fat yogurt provides 450 mg calcium per 8 oz; compared to 151 mg calcium in Greek yogurt.

What to do? Include both regular and Greek style yogurts in your diet. Choose low- fat or non-fat varieties with a small amount of added sugar and top with fresh fruit, a small handful of nuts, or whole grain cereal.

Another bonus: yogurt is a good vehicle for incorporating probiotics (friendly bacteria offering many health benefits) into your diet.

Make yogurt one of the ways to get your three servings of dairy foods each day.

Catherine Schneider is a Registered Dietitian in the Food and Nutrition Department at The William W. Backus Hospital. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. Contact Ms. Schneider and all the Healthy Living columnists at healthyliving@wwbh.org.

I generally eat yogurt as a source of my probiotics, although I do prefer kefir more. It's good that you explained the difference of greek yogurt and regular ones.
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