6 Benefits of Greek Yogurt
Manufacturers have evolved the infamous Greek yogurt by filling the refrigerated aisle with extensive brands and types. So, what exactly is Greek yogurt and what are the benefits of this well-known, high-protein dairy product? We're spooning out the information you need to know!
Though reasonably believed, the origin of Greek yogurt is not necessarily pinpointed to Greece, as its beginning use stems from various Middle Eastern countries. But despite its upbringing, manufacturers have evolved the infamous yogurt by filling the refrigerated aisle with extensive brands and types. So what exactly is this well-known dairy product and the benefits of Greek yogurt? BistroMD is spooning out the information!
What Is Greek Yogurt?
First off, yogurt is basically fermented milk. The fermentation process requires a carbohydrate source (lactose, the naturally-occurring sugar, in milk) and bacteria (largely lactobacilli and bifidobacteria*), ultimately producing lactic acid. Lactic acid interacts with the milk's protein, known as whey, and creates the well-known texture and tangy taste of yogurt. So when it comes to Greek yogurt, it varies from the modernly known yogurt based on its straining process. Greek yogurt is strained to remove the whey protein, resulting in a thicker consistency than unstrained yogurt. The end product continues to remain rich in healthful bacteria, but offers a higher protein content.
*The ingredient label commonly includes, if not all, the following live and active bacterial cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, and L. Casei.
Greek Yogurt Nutrition
The graph below depicts the disparities between plain and flavored Greek yogurts along with the variant of non-strained, plain yogurt. Key differences noted include the protein content between Greek and non-strained yogurt along with the sugar content between plain and flavored Greek yogurts.
Benefits of Greek Yogurt
1. Muscle Growth and Maintenance
The protein content of Greek yogurt is one of the primary characteristics yogurt lovers have made the switch. Protein is not only valuable for a wide variety of body processes, but crucial for fostering lean body mass. Especially following a workout, Greek yogurt can act as a recovery option to repair and stimulate muscle growth.
2. Bowel Regularity
The bacteria added to yogurt act as powerful probiotics. Though the body houses both "good" and "bad" bacteria, probiotics (considered "good" or "helpful" bacteria) may balance out the "bad" bacteria. Especially studied for digestive health, probiotics help move food through the gut and promote bowel regularity. Probiotics may treat common conditions associated with the digestive tract, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn's disease, infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites), and antibiotic-related diarrhea (antibiotics tend to deplete "good" bacteria in the body).
3. Bone Support
Originating from calcium-rich milk, Greek yogurt also promotes bone support. In the presence of vitamin D and phosphorus, calcium strengthens bones and teeth. Though valuable across all life stages, bone support is especially urged in growing children, menopausal women, and aging adults.
4. Efficient Metabolism
Greek yogurt can promote an efficient metabolism in a number of ways. First off, running along with the concept of muscle growth and maintenance, lean body mass accelerates metabolism. Simply put, muscle mass burns calories at a much quicker rate compared fat mass. Additionally, calcium may be much more than a bone-supporter, as it has been researched in its outcomes on weight loss. Especially in women, calcium may reduce the risk of weight gain during midlife ages. Dairy-rich diets have also shown to result to further weight loss compared diets low or absent of dairy products, such as yogurt.
5. Maintain Urogenital Health
Like the digestive tract, the urogenital tract requires a balanced bacterial environment. Utilizing probiotics has been used to restore an equalized system, especially when it is thrown off by countless factors - antibiotics, birth control pills, etc. Restoring bacterial balance can prevent or treat several conditions women face, including bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, and urinary tract infection (UTI).
6. Highly Versatile
Especially plain Greek yogurt free of sweetened flavor, it displays and offers a highly versatile use. It can be naturally-sweetened with fruit, mixed into smoothies, swapped for sour cream, and incorporated into savory soups. If needing some Greek yogurt inspiration, check out these recipes featured on the official Chobani and FAGE websites!
DiLonardo MJ. What Are Probiotics? WebMD.
Health benefits of taking probiotics. Harvard Health Publications.