People are pretty obsessed with Greek yoghurt. Google “healthy recipes” and you’ll see it serve as a substitute for sour cream, the base of a smoothie bowl, or blended with cheese and spices as a make-shift Alfredo sauce. Does it really deserve all the attention it’s getting? Turns out, yes.
“Greek yoghurt, a creamy, tangy dairy product with a rich texture, has steadily climbed the food popularity charts in recent years,” says Bill Bradley, R.D., owner of Mediterranean Living. It’s made by straining whey and lactose out of regular yoghurt, and it’s loaded with protein, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.
The increasing popularity of Greek yoghurt may be related to the growing recognition that, for the most part, cutting back on carbs leads to weight loss, Robert Iafelice, M.S., R.D.N., a nutrition expert at SETFORSET says. Straining out the lactose from regular yoghurt means a lower carbohydrate level in Greek yoghurt, while also appealing to those with lactose intolerance, but only in its non-fat-free form—“the fat further buffers the absorption of lactose,” Iafelice says.
It’s also ideal for trying to get your protein in. “Compared to regular yoghurt, Greek yoghurt has twice as much protein and half as much sugar,” says Iafelice.
Its benefits don’t stop there. Below, are all the health benefits of Greek yoghurt. And what to look for when shopping for it at the store.
What Is Greek Yoghurt?
You may have noticed Greek yoghurt tastes different from traditional yoghurt. Why is that? The distinct flavour of Greek yoghurt has to do with how it’s made.
“Regular yoghurt is made when heated milk is fermented with a bacterial culture. These bacteria are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. They convert the lactose (milk sugar) in the milk to lactic acid, resulting in a thickening of the milk as well as a tart taste,” says Iafelice. “Greek yoghurt is regular yoghurt that has gone through an additional straining process. Through this extra processing, the liquid whey portion of the milk—which contains most of the lactose—is drained. This leaves a more concentrated and creamier Greek yoghurt.”
5 Health Benefits of Greek Yoghurt:
The dairy product has a range.
1. Helps With Digestion
Greek yoghurt may keep your gut happy. It aids in digestion by adding some much needed “probiotics, or ‘good bacteria’, that help maintain a healthy balance in your gut,” to your diet, says Bradley. A Journal of Dairy Science review found that these probiotics can help alleviate the symptoms of several gastrointestinal diseases such as diarrhoea and constipation.
“Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that Greek yoghurt consumption increased the population of beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to improved digestion and reduced gastrointestinal discomfort,” says Mary Sabat, R.D.N., nutritionist and owner of BodyDesigns. Adding probiotics to your diet can help improve the composition of the gut microbiome, which is associated with better health.
2. Aids in Muscle Building and Recovery
Greek yoghurt is a great source of high-quality protein and contains more than regular yoghurt. Protein is essential for muscle building, repair, and recovery. It also helps produce enzymes and hormones that play a major role in different bodily functions.
A Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition study found that consuming Greek yoghurt as a post-exercise snack increased muscle protein synthesis when compared to a carbohydrate-heavy snack. “This suggests that Greek yoghurt can enhance muscle recovery and promote muscle growth,” Sabat says.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating a high-protein yoghurt snack, such as Greek yoghurt, improved muscle protein synthesis and reduced muscle protein breakdown in healthy older adults. “This indicates that Greek yoghurt can play a role in maintaining muscle mass and function, especially in ageing populations,” she says.
3. Keeps You Full and Satisfied
The high protein content in Greek yoghurt can also help with satiation, which may prevent you from overeating.
“The high protein content aids in feeling fuller for longer, which can contribute to weight management,” says Bradley. “A study published in the journal Appetite found that high-protein yoghurt snacks reduced hunger and increased fullness more than high-fat snacks.”
4. Supports Healthy Bones
Greek yoghurt is a good source of calcium, a mineral crucial for maintaining strong and healthy bones. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that consuming yoghurt, including Greek yoghurt, was associated with increased bone mineral density in older adults.
“Adequate calcium intake is essential for bone development, preventing osteoporosis, and reducing the risk of fractures,” Sabat says. “The high calcium content of Greek yoghurt was identified as a contributing factor to improved bone health.”
5. Strengthens Your Immune System
“Greek yoghurt is also rich in key vitamins and minerals, including calcium, B vitamins, and zinc,” says Bradley. Regular intake of these nutrients can maintain immune function, along with supporting bone health and energy production.
Plus, those probiotics we already talked about maybe give an extra boost to the immune system, says Sabat. One review from the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism shows the beneficial effects of probiotics consumption on the immune system.
READ MORE: How To Make The Perfect Overnight Oats
What to Look for When Buying Greek Yoghurt
When shopping for Greek yoghurt, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind to ensure what you’re getting reps all of the above benefits. Look for Greek yoghurt with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners or flavourings, and preferably full fat (made with whole milk), says Iafelice. “Dairy fat is highly beneficial for metabolic health because it decreases insulin resistance,” he says.
And remember those guy-friendly probiotics? Scan the label for those too. “Look for phrases like ‘contains live and active cultures’ or specific probiotic strains like Lactobacillus acidophilus or Bifidobacterium bifidum,” says Sabat.
By Perri O. Blumberg
From: Men’s Health US