Unlike popular belief, the origin of Greek yogurt is not exactly pinpointed to Greece. In fact, the first uses of yogurt actually stem 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 and showing delicious and nutritious ways to enjoy!
What Is Greek Yogurt?
First off, yogurt is basically fermented milk. The fermentation process requires a carbohydrate source, which is sourced by lactose, and bacteria, largely lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
Together, the lactose and bacteria produce 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. It 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, known as probiotics. Greek-style yogurt also offers a higher protein content.
Greek Yogurt Nutrition
Greek yogurt offers a rich nutrient profile, all while being controlled in calories and high in protein. It also offers other valuable nutrients that contribute to several health benefits.
According to Chobani, a 5.3-ounce container of non-fat plain Greek yogurt supplies 80 calories. Calorie content can also vary based on low-fat, full-fat, and flavored varieties.
Greek yogurt is mostly known for its high protein content - a whopping 15 grams per 5.3 ounces! This is 10 grams more than regular yogurt, offering a mere 5 grams based on the same serving size.
Fat content varies based on the type. For instance, non-fat plain yogurt offers 0 grams of total and saturated fats. Whole milk plain comes with 6 grams of total fat, of which 4 of those grams come from saturated fat. Opting for a plain, non-fat Greek yogurt also saves on total calories and fat content.
Being produced with milk, the natural lactose contributes about 6 grams of carb per 5.3-ounce container. However, It is also important to be cautious of flavored yogurts. This is because such varieties tend to contain added sugars that raise the overall sugar content.
Greek yogurt is a great source of probiotics, good, live microorganisms that promote gut health and balance the microbiome. Probiotics are mostly found in fermented foods and beverages and are often indicated as the strains Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces.
Being a dairy product, Greek yogurt is naturally a rich source of calcium. It also supplies iodine, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. Yogurt is low in sodium, which is important for those managing blood pressure or trying to reduce overall intake.
Chobani offers non-dairy products as well. Having these options available is especially valuable for those diagnosed with a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance. While Greek yogurt is considered to be a low-lactose food, individual tolerances vary.
What's more, the non-dairy yogurt options are still packed with probiotics. They also contain 25 percent less sugar than other non-dairy alternatives.
Greek Yogurt Health Benefits
From promoting muscle growth to keeping a healthy digestive tract, the benefits of eating Greek yogurt are undoubted.
1. Greek yogurt can promote muscle growth and maintenance.
The amount of protein in Greek yogurt is one of the primary characteristics yogurt lovers have made the switch. Protein is valuable for a wide variety of body processes and crucial for fostering lean body mass.
Especially after a workout, Greek yogurt can act as a recovery option to repair and stimulate muscle growth.
2. Greek yogurt can support digestive health.
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 and gut health, probiotics help move food through the gut and promote bowel regularity. Probiotics may treat common conditions associated with the digestive tract. These include, but are not limited to:
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
• Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
• Crohn's disease
• Infectious diarrhea caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites
• Diarrhea induced by antibiotics, as antibiotics tend to deplete "good" bacteria in the body
3. Greek yogurt can strengthen bones.
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. Greek yogurt may improve metabolism.
Greek yogurt can promote 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 to 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.
Greek yogurt may also help dieters lose weight. Dairy-rich diets may lead to greater weight loss compared to diets low or absent of dairy products, such as yogurt.
5. Greek yogurt can help maintain urogenital health.
Like the digestive tract, the urogenital tract requires a balanced bacterial environment. Utilizing probiotics may restore imbalances, especially when it is thrown off by countless factors. These may include 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. Greek yogurt can support the immune system.
Researchers have an ongoing interest regarding the link between probiotics and immune health. Evidence also suggests probiotics show therapeutic potential for several immune response-related diseases, including:
• Viral infection
The benefit of probiotics on the immune system leads researchers to believe probiotics may be useful in disease prevention and treatment.
7. Greek yogurt is a healthy and highly versatile food product.
Especially plain Greek yogurt free of sweetened flavor, it displays and offers highly versatile use in the kitchen. From breakfast to snack to side dish ideas, Greek yogurt can be:
• Naturally sweetened with fruit and/or honey
• Blended into smoothies
• Swapped for sour cream for a healthy taco topping or mayo for coleslaw
• Used as a healthy salad dressing base
• Mixed into overnight oats, creamy mac n' cheese, or savory soups
• Added to desserts, including cranberry Greek yogurt bark
Nutrition & Benefits of Greek Yogurt Recap
Greek yogurt is power-packed with nutrients, including protein, calcium, and probiotics. Regularly eating yogurt can promote good gut health, support the immune system, amongst several other benefits.
While Greek yogurt can be enjoyed as is, there are countless ways to use it in the kitchen. Blend into smoothies, mix into mac n' cheese, add to desserts, and more to augment the overall nutrients and creaminess of endless recipes!