In 2005 the only choice we had to make when choosing yogurt was what flavor to buy. Oh how times have changed. Today there are a plethora of choices in the yogurt aisle. Non-dairy, Greek, German, and the newcomer, Icelandic Yogurt. German and Icelandic Yogurt are very similar to Greek, nutrition and taste wise. The popularity of Greek Yogurt has skyrocketed since 2007, when Greek Yogurt accounted for less than 1% of total yogurt sales. Today, over 40% of all yogurt sold is Greek.
Yogurt is made from milk with healthy bacteria added, which ferment it and make it thicker. Then the yogurt is strained. Greek yogurt is triple strained, leaving it thicker and with a higher protein content than traditional yogurt. Greek yogurt also tends to have a lower sugar content. However, all brands are different so it’s best to read the label to find out how much sugar is in your yogurt. Originally, Greek yogurt was almost always a better choice as it was low in sugar and high in protein. However, now that it’s becoming more main stream, added sugars and artificial sweeteners are working their way into Greek Yogurt. Here are a few tips for buying a healthy yogurt.
- Look for the protein content to be higher than the sugar. (or at least close) Siggis Icelandic Mixed Berry Yogurt has more protein than sugar.
- Look for a short ingredients list without a lot of additives or artificial sweeteners (some low sugar yogurts use artificial sweeteners like sucralose (splenda), xylitol, erythritol, and aspartame.
- Choose plain yogurt when you can and add your own fruit or a small drizzle of honey. FYI plain does not mean vanilla.
Aside from just having yogurt as a snack, plain Greek Yogurt can help you make some healthy swaps when cooking. In some recipes it works well as a replacement for sour cream or heavy whipping cream. You can also enjoy it as a dip for vegetables, just add a seasoning packet to it. This recipe from Rocco DiSpirito is one of my favorite ways to make a healthy fettucine alfredo. You can also try making my pistachio pasta with Greek Yogurt or a yogurt parfait.
Due to the success of Greek Yogurt some company’s are adding it into other dairy products like cream cheese, as a way to woo you in with that big fat GREEK label. Is this just a marketing scheme or is it actually better for you? In most cases, if the yogurt is replacing a high fat food, it is a healthier option. The Greek cream cheese I found at the grocery store was lower in calories, fat, and slightly higher in protein than traditional cream cheese (think 3 grams of protein instead of 2). Nutritionally, this would make it a better option.
The final verdict on Greek Yogurt: LOVE IT!
Are there any foods you would like to see featured on Love it or Leave it? Let me know in the comments!