Greek Yogurt is a major staple of my diet. I eat a serving nearly every day, usually as my mid morning snack, right between my breakfast and lunch. Now, most yogurt in the dairy section is packed with sugar and offers very little in the way of nutrition. Yet somehow dieters everywhere make it a big part of their daily lunches. I see a lot of women eating nothing but yogurt for lunch all the time, unaware of how much sugar it contains. And not surprisingly, they have a hard time losing weight.
Real Greek yogurt is incredibly healthy if you get the full fat kind. For starters its full of probiotic bacteria that can have significant effects on your health and digestion. Probiotics are naturally found in the body, and are often called "good" bacteria because they help to keep your gut healthy. They also help prevent allergies and colds, while fighting skin conditions like eczema, and improve oral health and urinary and vaginal health. Probiotics can also help defend against food allergies. If you are unsure if you have a food allergy, read my article Recognizing Food Allergies.
There is more protein in Greek yogurt than popular commercial brands, up to 20 grams in a single serving. It's low in carbohydrates and sodium, as well as lactose, and a good source of B12 for energy. The fat in Greek yogurt is mostly saturated. Before you stop reading, saturated fat is a necessary part of the diet which helps the body produce hormones. A discussion of saturated fat is outside the scope of this article, but I do have a more in depth article in the works about that. Keep checking the site for it! For more information on why you need fat in your diet, read my article High-Fat Foods You Should Be Eating.
Greek yogurt can be eaten on its own, or as a substitute for many kitchen and baking ingredients like mayonnaise, heavy cream, as a base for a dip, as part of a salad dressing, or mixed with herbs as a marinade for meat or vegetables. You might even want to try adding it to a smoothie, freezing it into ice pops for a high protein ice cream replacement, or as a topping on pancakes on fruit in the morning.
Greek yogurt is made differently in the United States versus places like Southern Europe and Greece. In those places, Greek yogurt is made from goats milk, and doesn't use thickening agents, such as starches or gelatin, whey and milk concentrate, or modified food starches and pectin. If you can find an original recipe yogurt, that's the best choice.
I personally prefer the Chobani brand for flavored yogurt (pineapple is my favorite flavor), and use Fage, the number one yogurt in Greece, for natural and unflavored yogurt when cooking and for recipes. Below is the nutrition label for my favorite Greek Yogurt. As you can see, it packs 16 grams of protein into a single serving, and it is real food instead of another scoop of protein powder in a messy shaker cup, or nasty tasting protein bar. It also has just enough sugar to pick me up when I am feeling the mid day slump at work.
Between the vitamins for energy, gut friendly probiotics, and big serving of protein, I hope you can agree that Greek yogurt is worth including in your diet. If you already eat Greek Yogurt, tell me your favorite flavors. If you know of any recipes using Greek yogurt be sure to share them with me, I am always looking for new recipes.
Brooke Bailey is a personal trainer, masseuse, and student in health and wellness. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Follow her on Facebook.