Greek yogurt is packed with more than just protein — here are all the essential vitamins and minerals that make Greek yogurt healthier than regular yogurt
yogurtis good for you and a healthier option than regular yogurt because it’s packed with protein, vitamins (like B12), and minerals (like calcium). Greek yogurtalso contains probiotics that help build and sustain a healthy microbiome, which may positively impact your immune system and mental health.
- Greek yogurt contains one third the amount of lactose as regular yogurt, making it a great alternative if you are sensitive to lactose.
- This article was reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
In general, yogurt is considered a healthy food, and Greek yogurt is an especially protein-rich option compared to regular yogurt.
"Greek yogurt is considered a better choice of yogurt due to the way it is made, and its composition and nutritional density compared to the other flavor yogurts," says Monica Chan, a registered dietician and Supervising Dietitian for Riverside University Health System-Medical Center in Moreno Valley, California.
Here's how Greek yogurt is made and why it's a healthy option to help you meet your daily dairy requirements.
What is Greek yogurt?
Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been strained. The liquid parts that are usually in regular yogurt have been taken out, giving Greek yogurt a more dense and rich texture.
By removing the liquids, the nutritional composition of the yogurt is altered. As a result, Greek yogurt has less lactose and more protein than traditional yogurt.
Greek yogurts are prominently labeled at the front of the package, so it should be easy to spot them in the store, Chan says.
Greek yogurt is a healthy choice packed with nutrients
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, yogurt is a healthy food option. Greek yogurt in particular has many health benefits. Here are some of the vitamins and minerals you'll find in Greek yogurt that make it so healthy.
Protein is a macronutrient that helps people build muscle mass and is especially important for highly-active people, Chan says. Eating more protein can also help you feel full for longer, so that you don't end up overeating.
Greek yogurt is a great source of protein. It has 15-20 grams of protein in a 6-ounce serving, compared to just 9 grams in the same sized serving of traditional yogurt.
How much protein you need will vary depending on your activity levels. However, it's generally recommended that adults eat 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of their bodyweight. So for someone who weighs 68 kg (150 pounds), they would need roughly 54 grams of protein per day.
Calcium is a mineral that's found in many foods, including dairy. It's well-known that calcium helps maintain strong bones, but it's also critical for other bodily functions. For example, getting enough calcium supports healthy muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.
A 6-ounce (170 gram) serving of Greek yogurt contains 187 mg of calcium, about one quarter of the recommended daily amount.
It's recommended that adults get 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium each day, while teens and women over 50 need even more.
Vitamin B12 supports neurological function and the formation of new DNA and red blood cells. Because of that, vitamin B12 can help to prevent anemia, which occurs when the body doesn't have enough red blood cells.
Greek yogurt contains about 1.3 mcg of B12 in a 6-ounce serving, while regular yogurt has 1.04 mcg of B12 in the same sized serving.
People who are 14 and older need 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12 each day.
One hundred grams of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt contains 51.2 mcg of iodine, about 34% of the recommended daily amount. The same amount of regular yogurt contains roughly 33 mcg, or about 22% of your DV.
Adults need 150 mcg of iodine each day, while pregnant and breastfeeding women need 220-290 mcg.
Yogurts contain bacteria, which nourish your microbiome — the bacteria that contribute to your bodily function. These "good bacteria" found in yogurt go by another name: probiotics.
Probiotics help build a healthy microbiome, which can impact everything from your immune system to your mental health.
Some yogurts are heat treated after they're produced, which can kill the active cultures. For that reason, the International Dairy Foods Association offers the Live & Active Cultures seal. This distinguishes yogurts, including Greek yogurts, that have at least 100 million cultures per gram of yogurt when they are manufactured.
Choosing a Greek yogurt with the LAC seal guarantees you have live cultures with the good bacterial strains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. But not all Greek yogurts that have live cultures carry the seal.
To determine if your Greek yogurt has a useful probiotic, read the ingredients of your yogurt — or search online for specific brands.
Many people can enjoy the benefits of Greek yogurt, Chan says. That includes people who are lactose intolerant. A cup of milk contains 12 grams of lactose, whereas a 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt contains only 4 grams.
The US Department of Agriculture recommends that Americans get 2-3 cups of dairy a day. Yogurt can make up all of those servings, if you choose, Chan says. For optimal health benefits, she recommends choosing plain low-fat or fat-free yogurt to minimize your saturated fat and sugar intake.
Overall, yogurt is a healthy part of a balanced diet, Chan says, and opting for Greek yogurt can give you more nutritional bang for your buck.
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