To Greek or Not to Greek

Yes, we start a lot of these posts with ______ is national ______ month, but, let’s face it, there are only 12 months and lots of things to be aware of. For example, did you know that June is National Dairy Month? Yep, it was started in 1937 as a way to encourage drinking milk. But we thought we’d use it as an excuse to examine the hot, new thing in dairy: Greek-style yogurt.

According to an an interesting posting at SFGate:

Greek yogurt has more protein and a thicker consistency than regular yogurt…. It turns out that both Greek and regular yogurts start out with the same ingredients – milk and bacterial cultures. In fact, both types of yogurt even use the same bacterial cultures…. The bacteria ferment the lactose (milk sugar) in the milk and produce lactic acid. Different strains of bacteria have slightly different fermentation processes, and have slightly different fermentation products, but the end result is primarily lactic acid. So some strains of bacteria might produce a fermented yogurt that is more acidic, or more bitter, or more sour…. After fermentation, the liquid whey is strained off the solid yogurt. Regular yogurt is strained twice, so there is still some liquid left in the end product. Greek yogurt is strained three times, so most of the liquid is removed. This is what gives Greek yogurt its thicker consistency and stronger flavors… it has more protein than regular yogurt. The protein is left behind in the solid yogurt during the straining process. The whey contains most of the sodium, carbohydrates, and calcium, so Greek yogurts are lower in these nutrients than their regular counterparts….

SFGate also points out that Greek-style yogurt can make a great and healthier substitution in recipes that call for cream cheese, oil, butter, sour cream, or mayonnaise. And the post provides this handy chart showing a comparison of the nutritional value of Dannon strawberry yogurts, so you can really get a good sense of Greek-style yogurt’s benefits (less sugar, more protein) and its less favorable qualities (less calcium and more calories, fat, and cholesterol):

Nutritional Information Dannon Fruit-on-the-Bottom Dannon Oikos (Greek)
Size 170 g 150 g
Calories 150 160
Total fat 1.5 g 4.5 g
Cholesterol 5 mg 15 mg
Sodium 110 mg 55 mg
Potassium 290 mg 170 mg
Total Carbohydrates 28 g 18 g
Dietary Fiber < 1 g 0 g
Sugars 26 g 17 g
Protein 6 g 11 g
Calcium 25% DV 15% DV


According to an article from U.S. News and World Report, a lot of Greek-style yogurt’s appeal is due to “its taste—tangier and less sweet, as well as creamier.” They go on to say that both types of yogurt, “in their plain, nonfat or low-fat forms, can be part of a healthful diet. They’re low in calories and packed with calcium and live bacterial cultures.” And they mention the benefits of probiotics that both types of yogurt provide.  They also point out that Greek-style can be a little pricier though because it takes more time and milk to process, and it is kind of trendy right now.

But, adding yogurt to your diet, as long as you are not allergic or aren’t lactose intolerant, may not be a bad idea.  If you are looking for more ways to incorporate it into your diet, you may want to check out Home Dairy with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to make Cheese, Yogurt, Butter & More or even The Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt Cookbook, not quite as healthy perhaps, but a little more fun.