If you regularly buy yogurt, you may have noticed that the number of choices has exploded. Greek yogurt and regular yogurt fill your grocery store's dairy section, but what is the nutritional difference between them? Whether you're watching your calories or looking for the best source of calcium, protein, or other nutrients, it helps to know a bit more about the options.
Greek yogurt has more protein, slightly fewer carbohydrates, and slightly more calories than traditional yogurt, but the differences don't stop there. It's easier to choose the best type of yogurt for you when you compare them side by side.
Greek vs. Regular Yogurt Nutrition
For many people, yogurt is a part of a nutritious and healthy eating plan. Yogurt helps you get adequate amounts of dairy products in your diet. Both Greek yogurt and traditional yogurt are excellent sources of calcium and high in protein, according to the USDA nutrition information. If you don't particularly like drinking milk, there are many tantalizing flavors of yogurt available, leaving no reason for you to get less than your daily recommended allowance of calcium.
Comparing the USDA nutrition information for 100 grams of whole milk yogurt in each style, you can see a few differences.
Slightly Higher Calories in Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has slightly higher calories than traditional yogurt, but it's not a significant difference for most people. A 100-gram serving of whole milk Greek yogurt is 94 calories, compared to 78 calories for the same serving size of whole milk traditional yogurt.
More Protein in Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has more than double the protein of traditional yogurt. A 100-gram serving of whole milk Greek yogurt provides almost nine grams of protein, while the same-sized serving of regular whole milk yogurt only provides about four grams. This difference comes from the straining process, which removes excess whey and concentrates the yogurt (and its protein content).
Similar Fat Content
Many types of yogurt are available with a range of fat content from regular to low fat to fat-free varieties, and these include Greek yogurt and regular yogurt. If you compare whole milk Greek vs. regular yogurt, you'll find the fat content in a 100-gram serving is fairly similar. Traditional yogurt is just slightly lower in fat.
|Greek Yogurt||Traditional Yogurt|
|Saturated Fat||2.39 grams||2.32 grams|
|Unsaturated Fat||0.96 grams||0.87 grams|
|Cholesterol||17 mg||14 mg|
Slightly Lower Carbohydrates in Greek Yogurt
If you compare whole milk yogurt that isn't sweetened or flavored, Greek yogurt has fewer carbohydrates than traditional yogurt. A 100-gram serving of Greek yogurt has 4.75 grams of carbohydrates and 3.25 grams of sugars, compared to 5.57 grams of carbohydrates and 4.09 grams of sugars in regular yogurt. Remember that any added sugars, which you often find in flavored yogurts, will increase the carbohydrates.
Higher Calcium in Regular Yogurt
Regular yogurt has slightly higher calcium than Greek yogurt when you compare 100-gram servings of full fat options. Greek yogurt has 111 mg of calcium, while regular yogurt has 127 mg.
Lower Water Content in Greek Yogurt
Another major difference between Greek and non-Greek yogurts is with water content. Part of the process of making yogurt includes straining to remove water from the finished product. Greek yogurts are strained more times than regular yogurt, removing more of the liquid and lowering the water content.
Many types of yogurt naturally contain probiotics, or potentially beneficial bacteria and microorganisms, as part of the fermentation process. Foods that contain probiotics may support the functioning of your immune system by introducing so-called good bacteria in your body. However, the FDA has yet to regulate probiotic supplements or assertions by food companies about the health benefits of probiotics. These probiotics can help your body digest foods more easily as well as improve absorption of vitamins and minerals. They may also improve gastrointestinal issues.
Both regular and Greek yogurt often contain probiotics, but because the amounts are not FDA-regulated, it can be difficult to compare them and determine which has more of specific types. There is also variation between brands and flavors, but in general, both types of yogurt usually contain probiotics.
Other Differences Between Greek Yogurt and Regular Yogurt
Although the nutrition differences in Greek vs. regular yogurt are important, they are not the only ways these two types of yogurt can differ. You may also notice the following.
Thicker Texture in Greek Yogurt
Because Greek yogurt is strained more often and has less water content, the result is a yogurt which is denser and firmer in consistency. You will notice the difference when you eat this type of yogurt. It's worth trying multiple brands, also, since Greek yogurt textures can vary.
Different Cooking Properties
Yogurt can lend some interesting and tasty variations to your recipes. Try using Greek yogurt as a highly nutritious substitute for sour cream in dressings or sauces. You can also use it as a creamy replacement for mayonnaise in your favorite chicken or egg salad recipe. It can also make a nice tangy base for pasta recipes.
Greek yogurt may also lend itself better to some recipes which call for yogurt, especially those for marinades or coatings for meat. The yogurt base may cling better, making it easier to cook with. However, because it has less moisture, it may not work for all recipes.
Higher Cost for Greek Yogurt
Buying Greek yogurt may be more costly than buying regular yogurt, although prices vary depending on the retailer and brand. For example, at Target, plain whole milk Greek yogurt sells for about 20 cents per ounce. Plain whole milk regular yogurt retails for about 12 cents per ounce.
Another option is to make your own Greek yogurt. Companies such as Easiyo sell yogurt bases to create your own versions. You can also use plain yogurt as a base for your recipe. Your flavor options are only limited by your imagination. Try adding fresh fruits, nuts, and honey to your recipes for endless variations.
Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are nutritious sources of calcium and protein, making them the perfect addition for a healthy diet. Experiment with different brands, flavors, fat content, and types to decide which you like the best.