Greek yogurt offers numerous health benefits. Owing to its high protein content, it has gained considerable attention for weight loss. Greek yogurt has twice more protein than the traditional yogurt. It also has more of a thicker consistency than the traditional counterpart. It is less sweet in taste than regular yogurt. In fact, it is slightly tangy in taste.
Greek yogurt is often referred to as “strained” yogurt. It is made by fermenting yogurt and then straining whey and other liquids during the final processing. This process results in a thicker product with a higher protein content.
Some food manufacturers produce Greek-style yogurt by adding milk proteins to yogurt at the beginning or end of processing.
Nutritional value of a 7-ounce (200-gram) serving of low fat, plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt:
- Calories: 146
- Protein: 20 gm
- Fat: 3.8 gm
- Carbs: 7.8 gm
- B12: 43% of Daily Value DV
- Riboflavin (B2): 35% of DV
- Pantothenic acid (B5): 19% of DV
- Vitamin A: 20% of DV
- Calcium: 18% of DV
- Phosphorus: 22% of DV
- Potassium: 6% of DV
- Zinc: 11% of DV
- Selenium: 45% of DV
As listed above, Greek yogurt provides a number of nutrients and is particularly rich in protein, vitamin B12, riboflavin (B2), and selenium.
In comparison to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is higher in protein and lower in carbs.
The nutritional content will vary depending on the type of Greek yogurt you choose. For example, full fat Greek yogurt will be higher in fat and calories. Sweetened or flavored options will be higher in carbs and added sugar.
Greek Yogurt Health Benefits
Given the impressive nutrient profile of Greek Yogurt, it has been linked to several health benefits.
1. Greek yogurt protein benefits
The major health benefit of Greek yogurt is that it is quite high in bio-available protein.
A protein intake of 0.54–0.9 gm per pound (1.2–2 gm per kg) of body weight is considered ideal for physically active people.
A 7-ounce (200-gm) serving of Greek yogurt can provide 20 gm protein, which makes it a protein rich food.
Apart from being protein rich, Greek yogurt is also rich in essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin B2, Vitamin B12 and selenium, all of which play important roles in supporting health.
Greek yogurt is a good vegetarian source of B12. B12 is needed for red blood cell formation, nervous function, and energy production.
2. Greek yogurt benefits for bone health
Greek yogurt is rich in a number of nutrients that are necessary for maintaining the health of the skeletal system. This includes protein, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.
Not only are the nutrients found in Greek yogurt required for bone health maintenance, but eating Greek yogurt may even help increase bone formation.
A small study among young men found that consuming Greek yogurt daily while participating in a resistance-training program for 12 weeks helped increase bone formation and decreased bone breakdown compared with a placebo.
A 2020 study, published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, involving healthy males aged 18 to 25, who consumed fat-free, plain Greek yogurt for 3 months and participated in a resistance training program, saw “a significantly greater increase in bone formation” compared to the group that had a placebo with no protein or calcium.
Yogurt intake has been found to be linked to higher bone mineral density and a lower risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis in older adults.
3. Greek yogurt improves gut health
The probiotic bacteria of yogurt are referred to as “live cultures” in yogurt labels. They offer several health benefits:
- Improve lactose intolerance.
- Stimulate immunity
- Reduce risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
- Improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
The probiotic amount of yogurts can vary according to packaging and storage.
To reap the maximum benefits from yogurt, always choose yogurt with the maximum probiotics. However, it can be difficult to tell how much probiotics each yogurt option contains.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) provides a “Live and Active Cultures” seal for yogurts containing 100 million cultures (bacteria) per gram.
The IDFA also states that some yogurts may contain live and active cultures without having the seal as it costs money.
One should avoid yogurts that have been heat treated, or pasteurized after the probiotics are added as pasteurization kills the bacteria.
Research suggests that eating yogurt regularly helps to support a healthy digestive system by increasing bacterial diversity in the gut.
It is also important to only choose unsweetened Greek yogurt, as research shows that added sugar tends to harm gut health as sugar can have a detrimental effect on the bacterial community.
4. Post work-out meal for muscle recovery
Greek yogurt is an excellent post-work out meal for athletes. The high bio-available protein content helps to promote muscle protein synthesis and recovery.
A research study published in Frontiers in Nutrition in 2019 found that consuming Greek yogurt during a resistance training program led to increased strength, muscle thickness, and body composition, in comparison to a carbohydrate-based placebo.
5. Greek Yogurt Weight Loss Benefits
Since Greek yogurt is rich in protein, it helps people feel full and can prevent overeating. Research has proved that people tend to eat less during the day after having Greek yogurt or another high-protein breakfast. This makes it an ideal protein option for people on weight loss.
To reap the maximum benefits, one must check the added sugar on label. Some brands use a lot for taste and they still market it as Greek yogurt for weight loss. The added sugar highly increases calories. It is always recommended to choose plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt for weight loss.
Another point to note is to avoid Greek yogurt with zero sugar, as this usually contains artificial sweeteners. Yogurt naturally contains some sugar, so there will be some natural sugars present.
Protein is a very filling macronutrient, and adding sources of protein to meals and snacks is a smart and easy way to help you feel satisfied between meals.
A review of 22 studies gave a conclusion that yogurt consumption is associated with low body fat, less weight gain, and smaller waist circumference.
6. Supports Immunity
The beneficial bacteria of fermented foods like yogurt, may support immunity. It works on improving immune power in a number of ways. It increases the production of immune cells like natural killer cells, strengthens the lining of gut and inhibits the growth of harmful strains of bacteria.
Greek yogurt is also a rich source of immune-supportive nutrients like selenium and zinc.
7. Greek yogurt benefits in Diabetes
Greek yogurt contains about half of the carbs and sugar present in normal yogurt. It contains twice the amount of protein than its traditional counterpart. Both these factors make it an ideal food option for people with type-2 diabetes. Greek yogurt has been practically proven to reduce the blood sugar spikes.
Greek yogurt has a very low Glycemic Index of just 11. Foods with a glycemic index of 0-50 are considered low GI foods. They will not cause sharp spikes in blood sugar.
8. May support a good mood
Research Studies suggest that a daily serving of yogurt (100g) may be beneficial for maintaining a good mood. This is likely to be because of
the role played by beneficial bacteria in your gut in producing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
Greek Yogurt is both versatile and delicious. It tastes equally great in both sweet and savory recipes. It can be added to both sweet and savory dips, soups and curries, dressings and salads to name a few.
Greek yogurt is high in protein and other nutrients like vitamin B12, calcium, and selenium. Greek yogurt health benefits range from supporting muscle and bone health, maintaining a healthy gut, preventing sharp blood sugar spikes and promoting weight loss.
FAQS (Frequently Asked Questions)
Greek yogurt is high in protein and low in fat. Protein keeps you feel
full for longer time periods. Moreover, when you lose weight, you tend to lose some protein along with fat, which will give you saggy skin. A good protein intake is therefore very important while on weight loss.
Yes, because it contains twice more protein than regular yogurt. It’s an excellent post work out meal for muscle recovery.
Greek Yogurt is a high protein food so it is excellent to eat it as a high filling breakfast which prevents you from overeating during the day.