From 2008 to 2013, Greek yogurt quadrupled in production. For some reason, it has made its way into many households and has ultimately transformed the yogurt industry.
But do you have any idea why? Is it just another food trend or is it legitimately “better” than “regular” yogurt? INSIDER spoke with several experts to explain the differences between Greek and regular yogurt and if it really lives up to its hype.
Greek yogurt is strained more times than regular yogurt.
Both Greek and regular yogurt start out with the same ingredients – milk and bacterial cultures, according to Carol Aguirre MS, RD/LDN at Nutrition Connections in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, Florida. The main difference between Greek and regular yogurt appears in the number of times they each are strained.
After the bacteria ferments during the yogurt-making process, the milk curdles and the whey, which is the liquid component of milk, remains. The whey liquid is then strained off of the solid yogurt, Aguirre explained. Regular yogurt is strained twice, leaving some liquid left in the product. Greek yogurt, she added, is strained three times, removing most of the liquid.
You’ll notice a thicker texture and stronger flavour in Greek yogurt.
Because this liquid is mostly removed from Greek yogurt, it has a thicker consistency and creamier texture in comparison to regular yogurt, Aguirre told INSIDER.
Additionally, the removal of the whey creates stronger flavours, giving plain Greek yogurt a sour taste, according to Rachel Fine, registered dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition, a nutrition consulting firm in New York. The plain version of regular yogurt, you’ll notice has a slightly sweet aftertaste due to the leftover whey liquid.
Greek yogurt has a higher protein content.
One of the nutritional benefits of the extra straining is that it creates a more concentrated product, meaning that Greek yogurt has up to double the amount of protein as compared to regular yogurt, Fine explained.
“This makes it a bit more ‘nutritionally-dense’ per ounce serving – which means it will help to keep you fuller, longer,” Fine told INSIDER.
Typically, Greek yogurt per serving contains about 17 grams of protein, compared with about 9 grams in regular yogurt, according to Aguirre. Besides feeling fuller, more protein in your diet is also beneficial for muscle recovery and growth.
Greek yogurt has half the amount of carbs and sugar.
Plus, plain Greek yogurt has less carbohydrates and in turn, less sugar than regular yogurt, Fine told INSIDER. The extra liquid that gets removed from Greek yogurt actually contains a lot of sugar, so the removal of this liquid makes the final product lower in sugar and taste more tart, according to Tara Coleman, a clinical nutritionist.
Regular yogurt per serving contains 12 or more grams of sugar, as compared to Greek which has around 5 to 8 grams, Aguirre said. Greek yogurt also contains about half the carbohydrates of regular yogurt varieties, she added.
There is typically more fat in Greek yogurt.
Despite all of the benefits of Greek yogurt mentioned so far, it does tend to contain more fat than regular yogurt when comparing the full-fat versions. For instance, a serving size of regular yogurt can contain 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat. By comparison, a Greek full-fat yogurt has 10 grams total, 7 saturated, according to Aguirre.
There are non-fat and low-fat versions of both Greek and regular yogurt if that is a concern. Ultimately, it depends on your diet, Aguirre told INSIDER. An advantage of more fat is that it does keep you satiated longer, she explained.
Regular yogurt has higher levels of calcium and other important nutrients.
Regular yogurt comes in with a slight win in terms of calcium and other nutrients. It tends to have higher calcium levels than Greek yogurt varieties because there is calcium present in the liquid that gets removed from Greek yogurt, according to Coleman.
The same goes for other important minerals and probiotics, which are partially lost in the straining process. Therefore, if you are eating yogurt seeking to obtain certain nutrients, you may prefer to stick with regular yogurt to get all of the vitamins and minerals found in the whey liquid.
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