From protein to probiotics, yogurt is a healthy whole food that provides a number of different health benefits, but with so many different options, what yogurt should you choose? In recent years, Greek yogurt has become increasingly popular among health enthusiasts, but is it actually better for you? And what’s the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt? Let’s dig in and answer the great debate: Greek yogurt vs. regular yogurt, which is better for you?
What’s the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt?
Both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are cultured dairy products made from milk and are actually a lot more similar than you may think.
Regular yogurt is made by fermenting milk with bacterial culture. Fresh milk is first pasteurized to eliminate bacteria and then lactic bacteria starters (cultures) are added to the milk to begin the fermentation process. Once the cultures have been added, the milk is kept at a specific temperature to help stimulate the bacteria activity, which converts the lactose (the sugars naturally found in milk) to lactic acid to thicken the milk and give yogurt its signature tangy taste.
Greek yogurt is made through the same process as regular yogurt, however, once fermented, the yogurt is strained to remove excess liquid whey (milk’s watery component) and lactose (milk’s sugar), leaving behind a thicker-textured yogurt. At least, this was the traditional process.
Traditionally made Greek yogurt is strained in cloth bags to create a thick and creamy texture, however, some modern productions use different methods to achieve the same result. Today, not all yogurt labeled “Greek yogurt” is made by the traditional process. Some of the more inexpensive and processed forms of Greek yogurt receive their thick texture through the addition of milk proteins, thickening agents, or other dry ingredients, so it’s best to read the ingredients to ensure that you are buying traditional Greek yogurt, not the fake processed versions.
Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt Nutrition
Both regular yogurt and Greek yogurt, when naturally made, are nutrient-dense and well-balanced whole foods complete with proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Here is a comparison of a 100-gram serving of 2% regular yogurt and 2% Greek yogurt.
|NUTRITION PER 100 G||2% REGULAR YOGURT||2% GREEK YOGURT|
|Calories||100 calories||160 calories|
|Protein||7 grams||19 grams|
|Fat||2.5 grams||3.5 grams|
|Carbohydrate||12 grams||5 grams|
|Sugar||7 grams||5 grams|
- Ingredients: Regular yogurt and Greek yogurt contain similar ingredients, as it is merely their process of production that makes them different. Both regular yogurt and Greek yogurt are made with milk and active bacterial cultures.
- Calories: Greek yogurt and regular yogurt provide a very similar amount of calories per serving. Per 3/4 cup serving, 2% regular yogurt provides 100 calories, while Greek yogurt provides 160 calories. The discrepancy in calories can be attributed to the different balances of macronutrients in the different styles of yogurt.
- Protein: Greek yogurt is naturally higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates per serving due to the straining process used to produce it. By removing the excess liquid whey and lactose (or natural sugars) a higher protein product is created. Per 3/4 cup serving, 2% regular yogurt provides 7 grams of protein, while 2% Greek yogurt provides 19 grams of protein.
- Fat: The amount of fat present in Greek yogurt vs. regular is largely negligible. Per 3/4 cup serving, 2% regular yogurt provides 2.5 grams of fat, while 2% Greek yogurt provides 3.5 grams of fat. The straining process does very little to remove excess fat from the yogurt, rather, it is largely dependent on the fat content of the milk used to create the yogurt.
- Carbohydrates: Because Greek yogurt has been strained to remove excess whey and lactose it contains fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt. Per 3/4 cup serving, 2% regular yogurt provides 12 grams of carbohydrates, while Greek yogurt provides 5 grams of carbohydrates.
- Sugar: The majority of the carbohydrates lost in the process of making Greek yogurt are in fact natural sugars, specifically lactose; therefore Greek yogurt contains slightly less sugar. Per 3/4 cup serving, 2% regular yogurt provides 7 grams of sugar, while Greek yogurt provides 5 grams of sugar.
- Vitamins & Minerals: The process of creating Greek yogurt does very little to change the nutrient composition of yogurt, therefore, both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are excellent sources of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12, and iodine.
Other Factors to Consdier
Yogurt is well known for being a source of probiotics; a form of friendly bacteria found in fermented foods. Probiotics are created during the fermentation process of converting milk to yogurt and are forms of live bacteria that feed our gut and support our overall health. Both regular yogurt and Greek yogurt are good sources of probiotic bacteria, assuming they are made through the traditional process and only include milk and active bacterial cultures.
Taste and Texture
Due to its slightly acidic nature, regular yogurt has a slightly sour taste, however, it’s still slightly sweeter than Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is, by nature, thicker and creamier in texture and has more of a tangy yogurt taste and is, therefore, a great alternative or substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise.
So, Greek yogurt vs. regular yogurt: which one is healthier?
Although regular yogurt and Greek yogurt do have subtle nutritional differences, one is not better than the other, they are simply different. Greek yogurt is merely regular yogurt that has been extensively strained to create a slightly higher protein, thicker, and creamier textured yogurt. If you are looking to boost your protein intake or prefer a thicker yogurt, Greek yogurt is a great option, however, regular yogurt is equally as nutrient-dense and rich in probiotics.
The Bottom Line
Both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are nutrient-dense whole foods that can be included in a healthy diet. Regardless of which option you choose, be sure to read the ingredients and opt for unsweetened versions made solely of milk and active bacterial cultures to ensure that you are receiving all of the health benefits that yogurt can provide.