Is yogurt your sweet treat?
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 yogurt. I picked nonfat 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. If you are trying to lose weight, then go nonfat since the calories are a lot lower yet the texture is just as divine as full fat yogurts.
Given equal portion sizes, most Greek style yogurts have over twice as much protein as regular yogurt types. For example, one 5.3 oz container of Chobani Greek Yogurt with Blueberry on the Bottom contains 12 grams of protein, whereas the same size container of Dannon Fruit on the Bottom Blueberry Yogurt contains only 5 grams.
Flavored Greek style yogurts typically contain fewer grams of sugar than flavored regular yogurt. For one 5.3 oz single serve container, Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt Blueberry on the Bottom has 15 grams of sugar per serving whereas Dannon Fruit on the Bottom Blueberry Yogurt contains 21 grams of sugar.
To avoid added sugars altogether, choose plain yogurt. Plain yogurt contains naturally occurring lactose (milk sugar) - about 6 grams sugars per 5.3 oz container. There are also low sugar fruit flavored yogurts available - Chobani, Dannon Oikos, Siggi's, Yoplait, and most store brands all have low sugar flavored options.
If you like sweet yogurt, but want to limit sugar, then experiment with adding a small amount of your own sweetener to plain nonfat yogurt. Honey, sugar, and syrup all contain between 4-6 grams of sugar per teaspoon (about 16-24 calories). Sugar-free maple syrup also works well if you can tolerate sugar alcohols. Or, you could add a 1/4 cup of sliced strawberries for 13 calories and 3 grams of sugars. Berries are an easy way to sweeten plain 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 5.3 oz container of Greek yogurt contains about 150 mg (15%DV) of calcium, whereas the same size container of regular yogurt contains about 200-300 mg (20%-30% DV).
Calories will be higher in full fat yogurts compared to nonfat yogurts, regardless of Greek or regular style. Note that 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 6 oz (some store brands). If calories are a concern, then budget for the calories contained in your favorite yogurt.
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.
If you enjoy yogurt, find a type that fits your unique taste and aligns with your nutritional needs. It can be a delicious sweet treat with a huge bonus of offering healthy nutrition! Just read the labels to see what works for you and switch it up for variety if that's your style.
Originally published 25 January 2011
Updated 3 September 2019
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