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Is Greek yogurt better for me?

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photo by Janine via Flickr.com Creative Commons 

 

Greek yogurt is everywhere. What used to be a strange option in the dairy aisle is now a mainstream product everyone seems to be talking about. But is it healthier for you? How does it differ from regular yogurt? When considering low-fat and non-fat varieties, both Greek and regular yogurt can be very healthy components of a woman’s diet. They are both great sources of calcium for strong bones and active bacterial cultures that may aid digestion and promote healthy gastrointestinal functioning. If you have tried Greek yogurt, you may have noticed it has a much thicker and creamier consistency as well as tastes tangier. Greek yogurt undergoes extra straining that removes much of the liquid whey, lactose, and other sugars. This is why it has almost double, if not more, protein than regular yogurt and half the sugar. This combination of higher protein and less sugar is a major contributor to Greek yogurt’s popularity and definitely makes it a healthier choice.

A typical six-ounce serving of plain non-fat Greek yogurt is around 100 calories with 15 grams of protein and 7 grams of sugar. The typical non-fat yogurt is comparable in calories but has less than 10 grams of protein and double the sugar. The higher protein content makes Greek yogurt a great choice if you are trying to manage your weight as it can help delay hunger and give you a feeling of fullness that regular yogurt may not provide.

While the extra protein and reduced sugars of Greek yogurt make it an excellent choice for weight or hunger management, it does have less calcium than regular yogurt. Greek yogurt is still considered a good source of calcium; however, if you aren’t getting adequate calcium in your diet from other foods you may want to consider keeping regular yogurt in your diet.

The benefits of Greek yogurt and its smooth consistency may make it a better choice for you; however, be careful what you add to it or this low-calorie snack can become a high-calorie nightmare. The low sugar content of Greek yogurt makes it not as sweet as regular yogurts, so many people compensate for this by adding sweeteners such as brown sugar or honey. Be careful how much you add, as a tablespoon of sugar or honey adds an extra 40-60 calories without adding much, if any, nutritional benefits. A better option may be to add a low- or non-caloric sweetener to keep empty calories in check while tossing in a small handful of heart-healthy walnuts to make this snack heart-friendly too!

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