If you are like a lot of people, you’ve probably spent some time standing in front of the yogurt section of the dairy aisle, wondering what kind of yogurt to purchase. There are so many options to choose from that it can literally feel a little overwhelming. How is Greek yogurt different from regular yogurt? Is it worth the extra expense? Let’s take a look.
Both yogurts contain two primary ingredients–milk and bacterial cultures. The bacteria ferment the lactose (milk sugar) in the milk, producing lactic acid. After fermentation is complete, the liquid “whey” is strained off the solid yogurt. Regular yogurt is strained twice, leaving a little liquid in the end product (which is what you see accumulated on the top of your yogurt when you remove the lid). Greek yogurt is strained three times, removing most of the liquid. That extra straining is what gives Greek yogurt a thicker consistency (and stronger flavor) compared to regular yogurt.
Because so much liquid volume is lost through that third straining it takes about four cups of raw milk to produce one cup of Greek yogurt. In comparison, it only takes one cup of raw milk to make a cup of regular yogurt, which helps explain the higher cost associated with Greek yogurt.
Greek yogurt contains more protein and less carbohydrates, making it a better choice for diabetics. But no matter which type you select, read the food label. Compare types based on:
- PROTEIN: A typical 6-ounce Greek yogurt has 15 to 20 grams, which is the same as 2-3 ounces of lean meat. Regular yogurt provides about 9 grams.
- FAT: There’s fat in yogurt? Yes, depending on the type of milk used. Full-fat Greek yogurt packs 16 grams of saturated fat—or 80 percent of your total daily allowance in a 7 ounce container. Regular full-fat yogurt has 5 grams of saturated fat in an 8-ounce serving. If you’re going Greek, stick to low-fat and fat-free versions.
- SODIUM: Greek yogurt is much lower in sodium than regular yogurt, making it a healthier choice if you’re watching your salt intake. One cup of Greek yogurt contains 65 mg of salt, while the same size cup of regular yogurt contains 159 mg of salt.
- CALCIUM: Regular yogurt provides 30 percent of the federal government’s recommended daily amount. A 6-ounce cup of Greek yogurt typically supplies about 20 percent of the daily recommendation.
- SUGAR: Sugar content is usually higher in regular yogurt, but much depends on additional ingredients added such as fruit and/or granola-type toppings.
Yogurt is an important probiotic, adding live bacterial strains to your colon that enhance and support your microbiome. No matter which type you choose, your body wins from that perspective alone. But experiment with the different types and flavors until you find one that fits both your nutritional and taste criteria.
Writer: Marie Economos, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Trumbull County.
Reviewer: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County