From protein to probiotics, learn about the nutritional profile of this thick, creamy yogurt – plus what a healthy portion looks like.
What is Greek yogurt?
Greek yogurt is made using cow's milk and strained to remove the whey, resulting in a thicker consistency compared to natural yogurt. As well as being thicker, it tends to have a tangier flavour and can often be used as a healthier substitute to mayonnaise, sour cream or crème fraîche in recipes.
Nutritional profile of Greek yogurt
100g of plain Greek yogurt, which is about 5½ tablespoons, contains 133 calories, almost 6g of protein and 10g of fat which is both saturated and unsaturated fat. It also contains about 5g of carbohydrates which is largely lactose (milk sugar).
By comparison, 100g of low-fat plain Greek yogurt contains less calories, protein and fat but is higher in carbohydrates. Pre-mixed, flavoured fruit varieties will typically also be higher in carbohydrates because of the added fruit or sugar.
Greek yogurt is a good source of calcium which is needed for healthy bones and teeth as well as muscle contractions, and it contains a good array of B vitamins which we need for energy. Greek yogurt also contains iodine which helps support thyroid health and metabolic rate (the speed at which chemical reactions take place in the body) and also helps keep our cells healthy.
Is Greek yogurt high in protein?
Standard Greek yogurt is a good source of protein with around 5g per 100g.
There are some yogurt products now available which have a similar consistency to Greek yogurt, called Skyr. They are naturally higher in protein and have around 10g of protein per 100g, but technically they are classed as a sour milk cheese.
Does Greek yogurt contain probiotics?
Yes, most Greek yogurts do contain probiotics, as long as they are labelled as containing ‘live cultures’ – check the label to be sure.
Read more about probiotics.
What is a healthy serving of Greek yogurt?
A healthy serving is around 110g or 5-6 tablespoons of Greek yogurt as part of a balanced diet. It can added to breakfast, used as a snack or in cooking.
Can you be allergic to Greek yogurt?
Yes – people who are allergic to cow's milk will be allergic to 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.
It's also possible to have an intolerance to cow's milk or lactose, which is different to an allergy. Read more about food intolerances.
How to buy the best Greek yogurt
There are many different varieties of Greek yogurt available and some of this will come down to personal preference or taste.
Plain Greek yogurt is a good choice, as they contain good quantities of all the macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates and no added sugar or sweeteners. You could add prepared fresh fruit such as bananas, apples or berries, if you like.
You can also buy varieties that are pre-flavoured with fruit purées or honey – these are likely to be higher in sugar and calories, so may be best enjoyed as an occasional treat.
Low-fat or fat-free varieties will be lower in calories (and of course, fat) but bear in mind that they may also contain more sugar – manufacturers often add this to ‘make up’ the lost flavour when the fat is reduced. If you're looking to control your calorie intake, a smaller portion size of normal Greek yogurt may be best, and the fat content will provide longer satiety.
Check the labels to ensure that the variety you are buying contains probiotics for extra health benefits.
Healthy Greek yogurt recipes
This page was published on 2nd March 2020.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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