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Gobbling Up Greek Yogurt: Is It Really Better For You?

Posted on 01/19/2012 by | Personal Health and Well-being | Comments

Bulletin Today | Personal Health Print Print

The popularity of thick, Greek-style yogurt is booming, but is it really healthier for you than regular, American-style yogurt?

Yes. And no.

It is pricier — sometimes twice as expensive as regular yogurt — but that hasn’t slowed down sales, which doubled last year to $821 million, according to market research firm Mintel.

Part of the reason for the higher cost is that it takes about three times as much milk to produce a pound of Greek yogurt as it does to make a pound of the regular kind. That’s because Greek-style is strained to remove most of the liquid whey to give it  a thicker, sour cream-like consistency.

You could even do this yourself at home, suggests Cooking Light magazine, by pouring regular American-style yogurt into cheesecloth and letting the whey strain out for several hours over a container.

As for which type of yogurt is more nutritious, both are good for you but Greek gets the nod for having more protein and less sodium and carbs, while regular-style has a lot more calcium.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

Protein: Greek yogurt has nearly twice the protein of regular.

Sodium: Greek yogurt has half the salt.

Calcium: Regular yogurt has about three times as much calcium as Greek-style. (Regular-style yogurts add condensed skim milk to improve texture and add calcium, while Greek-style loses some calcium when the whey is strained out.)

Calories: About the same for both, assuming you’re comparing similar flavors and fat levels.

Carbohydrates: Greek plain yogurt has half the sugar of regular plain yogurt because some of the lactose, a milk sugar, is strained out with the whey. This could be helpful to diabetics, who  need to watch their carb intake.

Fat: That depends. Obviously, nonfat and low-fat Greek yogurt is low in fat. Full-fat Greek yogurt, however, has about three times the fat of regular, full-fat yogurt.

Whichever kind you choose, keep in mind that eating a daily serving of yogurt can help keep you from packing on pounds on you age. A recent Harvard study found that people could lose about a pound every four years just by eating some yogurt each day — preferably in place of some other less nutritious food.

If you still can’t decide, U.S. News compared the labels of Dannon’s regular and Greek varieties. Click here to check out the numbers.

Photo: Janineomg/flickr.com

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