Greek vs. Regular Yogurt
There is a temporary price war going on between Greek yogurt brands at my local supermarket. Yay, I win! Brands that I consider too pricey are now affordable - all in an effort to win my dollar. As I ate my way through Greek yogurt this week, I started thinking about the difference between regular yogurt and Greek. Should one be chosen over the other, or should folks just get a mix of the two? It mostly depends upon what you prefer and what you can afford. Here are some of my observations about the two types of yogurts. I picked non-fat blueberry yogurt as the flavor when I compared brands and types.
Greek yogurt is strained into a deliciously thick sour cream-like texture. Regular yogurt has a lighter, wetter, custard-like texture since it contains more water. If you like thick and creamy, then go for Greek style. Don't waste your calories on full-fat; go non-fat since the texture is just as divine.
Given equal portion sizes, Greek style has about twice as much protein as regular yogurt. For example, one 6 oz container of Chobani Greek blueberry yogurt contains 14 grams of protein, whereas the same size container of Dannon regular blueberry yogurt contains only 6 grams.
Flavored Greek style typically contains fewer added sugar grams than flavored regular yogurt. For instance, Dannon Greek Blueberry yogurt contains 3 grams sugar/oz (16 grams/5.3oz container), whereas their regular blueberry contains a little over 4 grams/oz (25 grams/6oz container). To avoid added sugars altogether, choose plain flavor for either style. Plain yogurt contains naturally occurring lactose ("milk sugar"): about 12 grams per 6 oz serving for regular yogurt, and about 7 grams per 6 oz serving for Greek yogurt. For those of you who are lactose intolerant, both types of yogurt are typically well tolerated since bacterial cultures breakdown lactose.
Note: If you have diabetes, be sure to count total carbohydrate grams, not just sugar grams for carb counting!
Regular yogurt, however, typically beats Greek style for calcium content. On average, a 6 oz container of Greek yogurt contains about 150 - 200 mg (15 - 20% DV) of calcium, whereas regular yogurt contains about 300 mg (30% DV). The exception is Yoplait Greek yogurt – the calcium content matches regular yogurt.
Calories are more brand-dependent than style-dependent. Calories per ounce can be difficult to determine at first glance since single-serve containers can be as small as 4 oz (Activia) or as large as 8 oz (some store brands). If calories are a concern, then either budget for the calories in your favorite flavored yogurt or choose plain. If you like sweet yogurt, then add your own sweetener to plain yogurt. Honey, sugar, and syrup all contain between 4-6 grams of sugar per teaspoon (about 16-24 calories). Or, you could add a 1/4 cup of sliced strawberries for only 13 calories!
Note that "light" yogurts contain artificial sweeteners to keep their calories and sugar grams down.
Greek yogurt is almost always more expensive than regular yogurt, even if it is on sale. This is true for both single-serve and bulk containers. To save money, either buy what is on sale or buy bulk. Bulk is not as convenient if you travel, but it is doable. Just be sure to put yogurt in a leak-proof container since yogurt seems to ooze out of everything when it goes upside down or sideways.
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Kathy Isacks, MPS, RD
Consulting Dietitian for MyNetDiary
- New York Times 9/28/09. "Probiotics: Looking underneath the yogurt label."
- WebMD 3/7/07. "The benefits of yogurt."
Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.