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What is Greek yogurt?
Greek yogurt is made from cow's milk that is strained to remove the whey, this results in a thicker consistency compared to natural yogurt. It also has a tangier flavour and can often be used as a healthier substitute to mayonnaise, sour cream or crème fraîche.
Available as full-fat, reduced fat and fat-free, products may be purchased plain or flavoured with fruit.
Nutritional profile of Greek yogurt
A tablespoon (45g) of plain Greek yogurt (whole) provides:
• 60kcal/248 kj
• 2.6g protein
• 4.6g fat
• 2.2g carbs
• 2.0g sugar
• 57mg calcium
• 17.6mcg iodine
Low-fat or fat-free varieties of Greek yogurt will be lower in calories (and of course, fat) but bear in mind that they may also contain more sugar – manufacturers often add sugars or sweeteners to ‘make up’ for the lost flavour when fat is reduced.
Top 5 health benefits of Greek yogurt
1. A good source of protein
Standard Greek yogurt is a good source of bio-available protein, with approximately 5.7g of protein per 100g.
The product Skyr has a similar consistency to Greek yogurt. It is naturally high in protein with around 10g of protein per 100g but lower in fat as it's made from skimmed milk. Technically this product is an Icelandic sour milk cheese rather than a yogurt.
2. A good source of bone-healthy nutrients
Greek yogurt is a good source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus – minerals essential for bone health. Indeed, studies suggest that diets which include foods like yogurt may support bone mineral density. When combined with lifestyle factors, like a resistance exercise programme, yogurt may help support bone strength through reducing bone resorption.
3. May support gut health
Greek yogurt labelled as containing live cultures provides beneficial bacteria known as probiotics, which when eaten regularly may support gut health. Regular inclusion of fermented foods, such as yogurt, appears to increase the bacterial diversity in the gut. However, be sure to select unsweetened yogurt because sugar may have a detrimental effect on gut diversity.
Read more about probiotics.
4. Useful source of iodine
Greek yogurt provides iodine, a mineral important for health. Iodine is essential for thyroid function, as well as for growth and metabolism. Mums-to-be have additional needs for this mineral, because it’s important for the development of a baby’s brain during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
5. May support muscle recovery after exercise
The high protein content of Greek yogurt makes it an ideal post-exercise snack or component of a meal. This is because its bio-available protein content promotes muscle repair and recovery.
Is Greek yogurt safe for everyone?
Those with an allergy to dairy milk should avoid Greek yogurt. Speak to your GP if you experience any concerning symptoms, such as a tickly throat or cough, sneezing or an itchy tongue after consuming milk or yogurt.
Less commonly, a severe allergic reaction can occur, known as anaphylaxis. This is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.
Visit the NHS website to read more about allergies.
Those with an intolerance to the natural milk sugar, lactose, typically find dairy milk and products difficult to digest. If this is relevant to you, and depending on the severity of your intolerance, you may need to avoid or limit your intake of dairy foods.
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Read more about food intolerances.
Healthy Greek yogurt recipes
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This page was reviewed on 2nd March 2022 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food. Follow Kerry on Instagram at @kerry_torrens_nutrition_
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