Health trends rise and fall as fast as tabloid stars, leaving us to wonder if they are worth our investment. Is eating kale really better than the regular romaine lettuce? Does drinking coffee with a tab of butter really improve energy? Is alkaline water worth the extra couple dollars? There is so much information laced with personal opinions and marketing dollars, we’re always on the lookout for the real facts behind the claim. This leads us to one of the top foods trending today: Greek yogurt.
Greek yogurt, unlike regular yogurt, has been thoroughly strained (three times instead of two) to remove its acidic whey. Whey is the yellowish liquid left over when you make various cultured milk products. It is composed of small amounts of fat, minerals and lactose (milk sugar). This process results in a creamier and thicker yogurt that still retains the classic sour flavor profile. But other than its varying texture, Greek yogurt also contains a higher protein content and lower levels of sugar and carbohydrates. It is this nutrient composition that makes Greek yogurt a more attractive option than regular yogurt, especially if you are looking for a healthy, satiating breakfast and snack food…we know we always are! Here are some benefits of Greek yogurt, plus a few ways to start participating in this yogurt craze:
4 benefits of Greek yogurt
A typical 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt contains 15 to 20 grams or protein compared to about 9 grams in a conventionally made yogurt. Protein plays a critical role in the body as it is required for the structure, function and regulation of the body’s tissues and organs. Eating a high protein diet also helps to build lean muscle mass, boosting the metabolism and the burning of excess body fat.
Lactose is the sugar component found in milk and milk products. The majority of lactose is found in whey. Because whey is separated out in the processing of Greek yogurt, the lactose content is quite low compared to conventional yogurt. This is advantageous for who have a hard time digesting lactose. An intolerance to lactose can cause indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, skin ailments, cramps, flatulence and IBS, making Greek yogurt a good alternative.
Greek yogurt can have as much as half the carbohydrate content as conventional yogurt. This can be of benefit to most people since carbohydrates typically make up the majority of the diet, and by limiting the carbohydrates and boosting protein, lean muscle mass is easier to build and fat is more readily lost.
Sodium, the main component of salt, is a electrolyte that most people consume an overabundance of. When intake is too high, it can cause undue stress on the kidneys, leading to bloating, swelling, low back pain and even poor kidney function. It also can raise blood pressure, leading to health-negative consequences on the cardiovascular system.
Keeping it Real: One thing to be mindful of is that all Greek yogurts are not created equal. Because of their growing popularity, many companies are trying to get in on the action and are cutting corners while doing it. There are no regulations either, allowing “Greek-style” yogurts to be passed off as the traditional stuff. These so-called “Greek” yogurts are regular yogurt with added thickening agents such as starch, obtained from corn or tapioca, or milk concentrates. Their texture does not come from the traditional straining process, making them of lesser quality. They also have added live cultures, rather than the live cultures being a by-product of the culturing process itself. The result? A “Greek” yogurt that fails to have the same health benefits as the authentically made versions.
Shop Smart: The best way to ensure you’re getting real Greek yogurt is by checking the labels. Only purchase those that contain milk and live active cultures in the ingredients. Avoid all brands that contain thickening agents and read “made with added live cultures.” Going organic is also a good idea. This ensures higher levels of vitamins and minerals, and that no hormones, GMOs or antibiotics were used in manufacturing. Or better yet, try making your own using this quick and easy recipe.