Greek Vs. Regular: Which Is Healthier?
Move over, regular yogurt.
Going Greek is in, and this exotic option has elbowed its way onto refrigerator shelves everywhere.
Most people give a big thumbs up to its taste, tangier and less sweet, as well as creamy, but is it healthier than its conventional counterpart?
First, to be clear: Both Greek and regular, in their plain, non-fat or low-fat forms, can be part of a healthful diet.
They're low in calories and packed with calcium and live bacterial cultures.
But the Greek variety, which is strained extensively to remove much of the liquid whey, lactose, and sugar, giving it it's thick consistency, does have an undeniable edge.
In roughly the same amount of calories, it can pack up to double the protein, while cutting sugar content by half.
Those are "two" things dietitians love.
For someone who wants the creamier texture, a little bit of a protein edge, and a sugar decrease, going Greek is definitely the way to go.
And it's really got a following: In the past five years, sales nationwide have skyrocketed, likely because it satisfies consumers' needs for health, convenience and taste.
But, I've also seen the prices rise exponentially, so many of our friends make their own, simple, homemade yogurt, saving their money and eating healthy!
Here's a closer look at how the two compare nutrition-wise.
Greek is high in protein, which helps promote fullness.
A typical 6-oz. serving contains 15 to 20 g. of protein, about the amount in 2 to 3 oz. of lean meat.
That makes it particularly appealing to vegetarians, who sometimes struggle to get enough of the nutrient.
An identical serving of regular on the other hand, provides just 9 g., meaning you may feel hunger pangs sooner.
Going Greek is a smart choice for low-carb dieters as it contains roughly half the carbohydrates as the regular version, 5 to 8 g., per serving compared with 13 to 17.
Plus, the straining process removes some of the milk sugar, lactose, making the Greek variety less likely to upset the lactose-intolerant.
However, remember that "both" types can contain high amounts of carbs if they're sweetened with sugar or another sweetening agent.
"No matter which type you choose, opt for the ones with less added sugar."
Be wary of Greek's fat content.
In just 7 oz., full-fat Greek, can pack up to 16 g., of saturated fat, or 80 percent of your total daily allowance if you're on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Dannon's regular full-fat version has 5 g., of saturated fat in an 8-oz. serving.
Saturated fat raises total and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk for heart disease.
Read nutrition labels carefully.
If you're going Greek, stick to low-fat and fat-free versions.
A serving of Greek yogurt averages 50 mg., of sodium, about half the amount in most brands of the regular kind. (Low-sodium versions of regular are readily available.)
Too much salt can boost blood pressure and increase the risk of other heart problems.
North Americans are urged to cap sodium intake at 2,300 mg., a day, or 1,500 mg., if they're older than 50, African-American, or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.
Regular yogurt provides 30 percent of the federal government's recommended daily amount.
Greek yogurt loses some of its calcium through the straining process, but still packs a wallop.
A 6-oz. cup typically supplies about 20 percent of the daily recommendation.
If you're still worried about calcium intake, load up on milk, seeds and almonds.
Greek (5.3 oz, nonfat, plain)
Total fat: 0 g.
Cholesterol: 10 mg.
Sodium: 50 mg.
Sugar: 6 g.
Protein: 15 g.
Calcium: 15 percent on a 2,000-calorie diet
Regular (6 oz., non-fat, plain)
Total fat: 0 g.
Cholesterol 5 mg.
Sodium: 120 mg.
Sugar: 12 g.
Protein: 9 g.
Calcium: 30 percent on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Though most experts agree that the Greek variety has a nutritional edge, both kinds help you lose weight by keeping you full on fewer calories.
The key is sticking to plain, nonfat, or low-fat varieties.
In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Harvard researchers found that this creamy treat can keep help keep age-related weight gain in check.
People tended to lose nearly 1 lb. every four years if they added a daily serving to their diet, probably because of the way bacterial cultures affect our intestines.
If you do opt for Greek, take advantage of its versatility.
Mix it with seasonings like garlic, dill, and parsley to create a unique dip for carrots, celery sticks, or cucumber slices.
Toss in some berries or high-fiber granola.
You can also substitute Greek for sour cream on tacos, or for the eggs and oil in baked goods.
It's an acceptable replacement for fatty ingredients like cream cheese, mayonnaise, and butter.
Its thick texture makes it an excellent swap for mayonnaise on sandwiches, or in dishes like potato salad, egg salad, pasta salad, and coleslaw.
Since these are regarded as comfort foods, it makes it easier to transition to using in recipes such as...
Tzatziki Sauce Recipe
Tzatziki Sauce: Combine 1 c. plain low-fat Greek-style yogurt, 3/4 c. finely chopped seeded cucumber, 1 Tbs. chopped mint, 1/8 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. white pepper.
Cover, chill, serve.
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