It only takes a stroll down the dairy aisles of the supermarket to realize that there are literally hundreds of yogurt brands to choose from. Not too long ago one manufacturer produced the familiar fruit on the bottom yogurt. Now yogurt has expanded to endless brands, consistencies and flavors. Yogurt seems to dominate the dairy aisle these days.
Over the last few years Greek style yogurts have gained in popularity and for some very good reasons. Greek yogurt has a thicker, creamier consistency (even the fat free versions) as compared to the standard yogurts that most of us are familiar with. Greek yogurt is thicker because is strained an extra time in the yogurt making process. This lowers the water content and results in a thickness similar to that of sour cream or pudding.
Aside from the consistency factor, side by side comparisons of Greek and regular yogurt show that there are some nutritional similarities as well as some differences between the two. A quick check of the nutrition facts label will provide you with carbohydrate and sugar content in various yogurt products. Understand that if enough sugar or fruit flavoring is added to yogurt for sweetening, the calories can be as high as 250 calories per 6 oz. cup for either version, so it pays to check those labels. For the person counting their carbohydrates, Greek yogurt can work out very well as a healthful snack, as long as the selections do not have a large amounts of added sugar. Some of the more popular Greek yogurts we have compared contain about 7 grams of carbohydrate for the plain, and 12-22 grams for the flavored varieties. “Light” yogurts are comparable in this regard.
The biggest difference between Greek and regular yogurt really comes down to the protein content. Regular yogurts typically have 5 grams of protein per 6 oz. cup while Greek yogurts boast 14-15 grams of protein: that’s comparable to the protein content of 2 whole eggs. The higher protein content can be more filling and satisfying for someone watching their calories, especially when used as a between meal snack. Calorie comparisons of “light” vs. Greek nonfat yogurts are pretty close: about 110-140 calories per serving for either.
Both types of yogurt are good sources of calcium and provide pro-biotics. The various strains of pro-biotic found in yogurt with active cultures help to maintain or restore healthy bacteria to the intestinal tract. Many people with digestive problems have discovered that regularly including yogurt helps to diminish the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea or constipation. Pro-biotics are an essential restorative factor after someone has been on antibiotic therapy.
Whatever type of yogurt you decide to eat, your choice to include yogurt routinely in your diet is probably a good one. Do some taste comparisons, cost comparisons and if you’re so inclined, try incorporating yogurt with a meal or as a snack often!
Gretchen Scalpi is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Wellcoach®. She is the author of “The EVERYTHING Guide to Managing and Reversing Pre-Diabetes 2nd Ed.”, “The EVERYTHING Diabetes Cookbook 2nd Ed.”, “Virtual Grocery Store Tour: Getting The Most Nutrition Out Of Your Food Shopping”, “Pre-Diabetes: Your Second Chance At Health”, “The Quick Start Guide to Healthy Eating”, “The Quick Start Guide To Pre-Diabetes” and “Quick Start Recipes For Healthy Meals”. Read her articles, recipes and blog at http://www.nutritionxpert.com and learn more about her books at http://www.gretchenscalpi.com.