Is Whole Milk Yogurt The Same As Greek Yogurt? 

 June 12, 2021

By  Diane Miles

Yogurt is one of the most famous and widely consumed fermented dairy foods in the world today. It’s been around for thousands of years, and there are dozens of dizzying varieties available. However, people often wonder what the differences are among two popular types: whole milk yogurt and Greek yogurt.

Traditional Greek yogurt is made from full-fat sheep or goat’s milk and live cultures. Modern Greek yogurt is strained thrice, and can be made from non-fat, low fat, or whole milk. Whole milk yogurt is strained once or twice, and contains full fat whole cow’s milk and live cultures.

While those are the primary differences between the two, there’s a lot more to understand about these types of yogurt. Read on to learn more.

What’s The Difference Between Whole Milk Yogurt And Greek Yogurt?

To truly understand the differences between whole milk yogurt and Greek yogurt, it’s helpful to know about its history.

Yogurt has been consumed for around 10,000 years now, with several countries all over the globe independently inventing their own. In Greece, yogurt was traditionally made with full-fat sheep’s milk yogurt in a ceramic container, which wasn’t strained and kept all its whey content. But Greece also had another form of traditional yogurt made from full-fat sheep, goat, or cow’s milk, known as ‘sakoulas’ which means bag, because it was strained in a muslin bag.

It wasn’t until 1998 that a Greek yogurt company called Fage introduced Greek yogurt to the United States and by 2001 they had their headquarters in New York. However, a Turkish yogurt company called Chobani was also pivotal in popularizing yogurt from 2005 onwards. From then on, the yogurt industry in the US took off and spawned dozens of flavors and varieties like the ones we know of today.

So many varieties, in fact, that people can easily get confused. They do both contain some kind of milk and bacterial culture. But to clear the air, here are the primary differences between the two:

Whole Milk Yogurt

  • More calcium than Greek yogurt because of its whey content
  • Traditionally made from sheep or goat’s milk but cow’s milk is also common in modern forms of Greek yogurt
  • Strained once or twice

Greek Yogurt

  • Overall healthier when sheep or goat’s milk is used
  • Higher protein content compared to whole milk yogurt
  • More fat content, though low fat and non-fat options are available
  • Strained thrice
  • Less calcium because the whey is strained out
  • Less carbohydrates and sugar because of little to no whey content
  • Sour, tangy taste

Generally speaking, both yogurt types are made from essentially the same basic ingredients but will vary in the nutrients and thus, health benefits. They are both terrific for supporting digestion, heart health, and weight loss thanks to the probiotic content in live cultures, but if you want to know if Greek yogurt is better than whole milk yogurt or vice versa, it’s important to look at the nutrition label and ingredients.

Deciphering Yogurt Ingredients

Yogurt is healthy for you, but the grocery store shelves are often packed with sugary and additive-rich yogurt varieties that can do more harm than good. When you eat either whole milk or Greek yogurt that contains too many flavors and too much sugar, you’re just eating junk food.

Here are some tips to help you shop for healthy yogurt:

  • Look for yogurt with as little ingredients as possible
  • Avoid all yogurts that have added sugar. They come in different names such as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fruit juice, agave, or cane sugar.
  • Sweetened yogurt can usually contain over 30 grams of carbohydrates per cup or serving (which converts into sugar), while plain yogurt has 10-15 grams.

If you don’t like the taste of unflavored yogurt, then you can always add the sweeteners yourself at home. Healthy ways to flavor yogurt include adding nuts and fresh fruit. Of course, you can also have more control over the nutrient content by making it yourself.

It’s also important to understand the type of milk used in whole milk and Greek yogurt. The type of milk used in yogurts will have a major impact on the final result, taste, and texture:

Whole milk

Whole cow’s milk is the purest, most unadulterated type of milk there is. It’s also known as regular milk, so ‘regular yogurt’ refers to yogurt made with whole milk too. Whole cow’s milk is made up of 87% water, and 3-3.5% milk fat, which has health benefits because the more fat is contained in a cup of milk, the more Omega-3 fatty acids you’ll get.

However, one cup of whole milk also contains around 4.6 grams of saturated fat which can help keep you full for a longer period of time. Saturated fat from whole milk yogurt and other dairy products are said to reduce the risk of heart disease, unlike saturated fat from other animal products.

Keep in mind that consuming cow’s milk even in yogurt form can take hours for the human body to digest. Cow’s milk is also a common allergen among both children and adults.

Goat’s milk

The structure of goat’s milk is similar to that of human milk, and it assists with digestion. It’s easy on the gut, ideal for people with lactose intolerance, and contains less sugar than cow’s milk. This is why yogurt made from goat’s milk is much easier to digest and process.

However, some types of goat’s milk are not palatable but also some people don’t like the taste of goat’s milk. If you want to enjoy the health benefits of goat’s milk yogurt without the taste, you can always add flavorings on your own.

Sheep’s milk

Sheep’s milk is the creamiest of all. They are similar to goat’s milk in the sense that they can produce homogenized milk naturally, which is also excellent for digestion. And just like goat’s milk, sheep’s milk and yogurt made from it is recommended for people who have lactose intolerance.

Sheep’s milk is the most nutrient-dense of all types of milk today.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Greek Yogurt better than whole milk yogurt?

Greek yogurt can be healthier than whole milk yogurt because of its higher protein content. It’s also a better choice for individuals who are lactose intolerant. Just be sure to choose unsweetened varieties to avoid consuming unnecessary carbohydrates and sugar.

Does Greek yogurt use whole milk?

Greek yogurt can be made with whole milk, as well as sheep’s milk and goat’s milk.

Is whole milk yogurt good for you?

Whole milk contains high amounts of saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease in the past. There is new research now that contradicts it, because saturated fat in a fermented product such as yogurt which also contains probiotics can actually be good for you. Whole milk yogurt is good for you as long as you aren’t lactose intolerant, don’t already have high cholesterol, or are consuming it with unnecessary sugary ingredients.

Is Greek yogurt Whole30 compliant?

The Whole30 is diet program that eliminates the consumption of all inflammatory foods, dairy included. Since Greek yogurt is made from dairy, it’s not Whole30 compliant. You can make Whole30-compliant yogurt out of coconut milk.

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