Ocnutrition’s Blog

Greek Yogurt: Who is the New Kid on the Block?
July 5, 2011, 8:49 pm
Filed under: Label Reading

Yogurt was once considered a “health” food that you purchased in health food stores. There was typically one type of yogurt and it was generally plain or fruit flavored.  Well now the yogurt craze has exploded and yogurt dominates the dairy section in most markets.  In fact, some of the suppliers are having difficulty keeping up with the demand.  Why all the craze and who is the new kid on the block?

Yogurt can be an incredibly nutritious food.  It contains calcium, vitamin D and protein and many brands contain probiotics (good bacteria).  Probiotics in yogurt are similar to those already found in your body.  They provide health benefits by preventing the growth of “bad” bacteria and encouraging a healthy digestive system.  Some probiotics are linked with specific benefits such as immune support and relief from irritable bowel syndrome.

The newest yogurt flying off the shelves is Greek yogurt.  What is all the hype? Well nutritionally it is superior to “ordinary” yogurt in that it is higher in protein and lower in sugar.  Greek yogurt is also thicker and creamier because it is strained during production.  This reduces its liquid content which contributes to its improved texture and nutritional profile.  The draining process also lowers the sodium and acid content of the yogurt since much of the salt and lactic acid drains out with the liquid.  It can take up to four times more milk to make Greek yogurt when compared to ordinary yogurt.  Buyer beware, some manufactures are cutting corners by adding thickeners and milk protein concentrate instead of the more expensive process of draining the whey.

Tips to help you decide which yogurts are the cream of the crop:

  • Watch the added sugar.  Yogurt contains natural milk sugar (lactose) and unsweetened yogurt contains about 12 grams.  Anything beyond that is from added sugar or fruit.  Best to purchase plain yogurt and add your own fruit and sweetener, if desired.
  • Check the protein. Protein helps you feel full longer and this type of protein is high quality. Choose yogurt with at least 5 grams of protein or buy Greek yogurt which is in the double digits.
  • If desired, look for probiotics.  To obtain probiotic benefits be sure it contains live and active cultures such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.  This will be written on the label.
  • Avoid the “mix-ins” like chocolate and granola.  They simply boost the calorie level and not the nutritional value.

The next time you’re at the market, pick up a few different brands of yogurt and do your own taste test.  Once you find the one you prefer, incorporate it into your daily meal plan for a nutritious, satisfying snack.

Bon Appetite!

This information was brought to you by Robyn Moss, MS, RD and OC Nutrition, Your Trusted Source for Health & Nutrition Advice. OC Nutrition offers nutrition counseling services over the phone or in person in Newport Beach, Irvine, Orange, Anaheim Hills, Chino Hills and Long Beach.  If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact:

Kristy L. Richardson, MS,MPH, RD, CSSD, CHES
Registered Dietitian & Exercise Physiologist
(949) 933-6788