You’ve seen the ridiculous greek yogurt commercials peppering your TV between episodes of Caillou and Daniel Tiger. They tout the benefits of greek yogurt nutrition but they don’t really say why it’s good for you. If anything, we should know that just because it’s advertised as healthy doesn’t mean that it really is healthy. Companies will say anything to get you to buy their products and feed it to your family. I should probably break down and fully explain “Why is greek yogurt good for you?” before I convince you to go completely gung-ho on the Fage train and load your fridge up.
- 1 What Can the Ingredients Do For You?
- 2 Greek Yogurt Benefits
- 3 PUMP. IT. UP. BABY
- 4 But What If I’m Lactose Intolerant?
- 5 Substitute Greek Yogurt in Recipes
- 6 What to Avoid
- 7 So, is greek yogurt good for you?
What Can the Ingredients Do For You?
The biggest thing you need to look out for is the ingredients. Like every other packaged food, there’s going to be some not so good ingredients snuck in there. The front label doesn’t tell you anything except how much you’re going to be paying, or if you’re like me, make you walk around singing the lyrics to “Iko Iko” for the rest of the day when you see the Oikos yogurt on the shelf. Let’s break down what is so good in greek yogurt; if you’re shelling out the cash, you might as well be getting your nutrition’s worth with every cup.
Live Active Cultures
These little buggers, also known as probiotics, are kind of the whole reason people eat yogurt. Y’know those annoying “you can stay regular!” yogurt commercials? It’s the fiber, of course, but it’s also the probiotics helping you stay regular. Your gut has good bacteria that is necessary for proper digestion. If those bacteria get out of whack, your digestion can get funky, meaning your, uh, morning rituals can also get out of whack.
There’s about 100 calories on average in each serving of greek yogurt, more depending on how much sugar is in the additives and the brand you choose. That’s about the same as 2 cups of raspberries, 28 grapes or 1 hard-boiled egg with 1 slice of toast.
We need sodium to maintain blood pressure and for normal nerve and muscle function. However, getting too much sodium might cause blood pressure problems that can lead to health problems. It’s very easy to get enough sodium from the foods you eat, and, in fact, it’s more likely that you’re already getting more sodium than you need. Greek yogurt is relatively low sodium because most of it is lost during the triple straining process. So, if you’re on a low sodium diet, greek yogurt is a better choice that traditional yogurt.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to beat the necessity of calcium into your head. You know all the reasons why you’re supposed to get enough calcium. I’m just here to tell you that GY does have less calcium than traditional yogurt, so if your doctor has insisted you need more calcium, the 187mg in greek might not be enough to appease your health care provider.
Low carbies rejoice! You carb-starved grumps will be happy to know that there’s roughly half the amount of carbs in greek yogurt than there are in regular yogurt. This amount goes up with the fruit/toppings added in, so if you’re a low-carb person by necessity (diabetics), you’ll want to look closely at the labels.
Plain greek yogurt is low in sugar (around 5 grams per six ounce serving) until you start loading it with the sugary fruits and flavorings. Sugar should not be the first ingredient on the label; if it is, you might as well be eating a candy bar.
Americans have an obsession with protein. Why I’m not sure, because most likely you’re getting more than enough protein unless you’re a major body builder or something. Greek yogurt has almost twice the amount of protein than non-greek. This helps you feel full longer.
Potassium is good for building heart muscle, something muy importante if you’re an athletic type. Standard greek yogurt has about 250 mg per six ounce serving. There is no recommended daily allowance standard for potassium, but nutritionists recommend you consume about 3,000 mg a day.
Vitamin B6 and B12
One cup of GY has high concentration of B6 and B12, needed to help the production of red blood cells that carry around oxygen and antibodies that fight infection. Besides that they are good for a quick energy boost and when you combine them with fruit, you’re getting an extra boost of your B vitamins. These vitamins cannot be made or stored in your body and must be obtained regularly.
You don’t want to hear this, but fat is good for your diet. This isn’t a free pass from me to go fry every meal, but good fat is absolutely good for you in moderation. You can go for non-fat GY, but if you have small kids or you need some good fat in your diet, it’s not a bad thing to have a serving of full fat yogurt every day.
Greek Yogurt Benefits
Preventing High Blood Pressure
The only ways to ward off hypertension is through diet and exercise. Experts agree that a diet low in fat and sodium and complete with fruits, vegetables, and two servings of low fat dairy every day are a good way to keep your blood pressure from skyrocketing.
Bolstering the Immune System
A recent study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that athletes who took a probiotic daily were 40% less likely to get a cold or gastrointestinal infection. Greek yogurt is loaded with probiotics and a great supplement to your diet.
Studies have found that diets high in calcium have teeth in better health that people with a diet deficient in calcium.
Better Bone Health
Potassium, calcium, magnesium, and protein work together to strengthen bones. Calcium alone isn’t enough to strengthen bones; you need the complete array of minerals to get the full effect. You’ll find all of these in greek yogurt nutrition.
Ah, the holy grail of nutrition. If it helps us lose weight, we’ll eat it, right? Numerous studies have touted the benefits of low fat dairy to help lose and maintain weight loss, and foods high in protein keep us full longer and help build muscle to replace fat. I don’t need to remind you greek yogurt meets all of these because come on, greek yogurt benefits are nothing if not almost magical.
PUMP. IT. UP. BABY
Muscle is sexy. But if you’re lifting weights and not eating enough protein or fat, your muscles are going to stay pretty wimpy. Popeye didn’t get muscles from just weights; his diet was rich in calcium and magnesium. Throw some protein in there and bam! You’ve got yourself the perfect recipe for a taught, toned body.
I am going to lecture you that you can’t get all of you protein from meat, so make sure you’re utilizing dairy and vegetables to get some extra protein and vitamins in, too. If your protein is just animal based, well, you’ll definitely be needing some of that yogurt that helps you stay regular.
But What If I’m Lactose Intolerant?
Unlike traditional yogurt, GY is strained three times, making it creamier and richer. It’s this process that empties the yogurt of some of its qualities, good and bad. If you’re lactose intolerant, this can be a good thing because the triple straining also takes out a good hunk of the lactose. Studies have found that people with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 1 cup of milk at a meal, thats about 12 grams of lactose. With a 6-ounce container of nonfat plain GY providing around 4 grams of lactose, greek yogurt can be classified as a lower lactose food. Next to that, the probiotics in Greek yogurt also help breakdown the lactose sugar, which makes it easier to digest. Furthermore, it is recommended that those with lactose intolerance start introducing lactose slowly into the diet and begin with lower lactose-containing foods, making GY just perfect for that!
Substitute Greek Yogurt in Recipes
Greek yogurt is yummy as is, topped with fruit, granola, or thick honey. If eating it plain isn’t your thing, you’ll see that you can sub it in a lot of your favorite recipes. Sour cream addict? Top your nachos or burritos with a dollop of greek yogurt. Throw it in smoothies for an even thicker product, and it’s even really good in place of milk in macaroni and cheese! A quick look at my recipe section should give you some ideas of ways to put it into baked goods for a fluffier and more moist end result.
What to Avoid
Next time you go the grocery store, you’ll want to look at the labels to ensure you’re not buying sugar loaded crap. If your yogurt has fruit additives, check to make sure the fruit is just fruit and not filled with sugar, aspartame, or other artificial sweeteners.
Some brands will sneak in artificial thickeners like gelatin and corn starch. While this isn’t necessarily bad for you, you’ll need to watch out for gelatin if you’re a vegetarian or you’re wanting to keep your diet as natural as possible.
So, is greek yogurt good for you?
All in all, greek yogurt is a pretty sweet package deal. It helps you feel full longer, packs you a healthy and natural source of protein, promotes bone health, and contributes to weight loss. Where else can you get that in a non-veggie/fruit source that tastes good and have it be completely versatile? By the way, did you know you can make it yourself? Leave me a comment to let me know what you think about the controversial “Is greek yogurt good for you?” question and what your favorite ways to use greek yogurt are. Or because this is the internet, let me know if you think I’m completely off my rocker.