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What Is the Difference between Greek and Regular Yogurt?

  • September 2, 2019
  • / By Dianne Miles

You have probably always been told that yogurt is good for your health. And if you are the type who is health conscious, you probably have stacks of it stashed in your refrigerator. That yogurt comes on top in a list of healthy foods is no wonder; it is not only nutritious but also a rich source of calcium, potassium, and protein. It also provides minerals and is low in calories. It also acts as a probiotic, which means it is very useful in the treatment of urinary tract infections, irritated bowel syndrome (IBS) and other such conditions.

Yogurt may or may not have been around for centuries, but it is extremely serious business. In the United States alone, yogurt sales in 2018 were almost $9 billion! And the figure is only expected to go higher. So it is no wonder if you take a casual walk down a supermarket aisle, you will see a confusing variety of options. And one of the most popular, and the most sold variants is Greek yogurt. So that makes many wonder — what is the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt?

If you've like to start making your own health yogurt at home check out our reviews of the latest products, such as yogurt makers, Greek yogurt makers, frozen yogurt makers and our picks for high probiotic content yogurt starter cultures.

Millions of people, over the last few years, have slowly migrated from the traditional yogurt to this delicious variant. People who tasted it for the first time never wanted to go back to just plain yogurt, but its thicker and creamier version. Another big reason for its popularity is that a lot of households in the US use it as a substitute for sour cream. It has been found (discovered, rather), that cooking with Greek yogurt is far easier than cooking with plain yogurt because it does not curdle that easily.

Let’s find out what is the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt.

For starters, regular yogurt is a dairy product that is sour in nature and is created by fermenting milk with bacteria, a process also known as culturing. It is usually had as a complement to your meal, or as breakfast and even as a dessert in some cultures. Its other common uses include substituting it for high-fat products such as oil, butter or shortening while baking. It is also a popular base for making sauces and dips. Plain yogurt is either strained once, or in most cases, not strained at all, and has a runny texture and has a slightly sour taste (depending on how it was made).

Regular yogurt is traditionally used making the milk of a cow or a water buffalo, but varies from region to region and is also made using milk from yaks, horses, camels, sheep or goats.   It is a rich source of calcium, which is an important bone-building mineral.

Greek yogurt is much tangier, thicker and creamier than the regular yogurt and is strained after cultures have been added to the milk (it is this straining that results in a thicker consistency). It has lots more protein (compared with regular yogurt), fewer carbohydrates (making it a hit with those on a diet), sodium, calcium, and sugar. It also costs significantly more than regular yogurt (depending on the brand you favor).

Experts will tell you that only sheep’s milk is used to make Greek yogurt but nowadays is also substituted by cow’s milk because of its low-fat content. So now you know what is the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt in a nutshell.

Greek Yogurt Packs More Goodies

Greek yogurt has higher fat and less calcium than their regular counterpart, and it has many benefits that cannot be overlooked. One of the most popular questions in nearly all the health forums is what are the health benefits it provides and why we should eat yogurt (or Greek yogurt for that matter). All yogurts aid in the digestion of milk products (and thus help overcome lactose intolerance) and in the prevention of yeast infections.

Let us take a look at both regular and Greek yogurt in terms of their nutritional value.

Protein

One of the greatest qualities of protein in your diet is that it helps you in your weight loss efforts (if you are trying to lose some) but making you feel fuller for longer periods. Some health enthusiasts resort to protein shakes or bars, which are considered healthy, but have high sugar content and are more often than not bland.

This is why Greek yogurt is loved the world over. It packs in more protein (double the content of regular yogurt); where you would get 9 grams of protein in a 6-ounce serving of regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has as much as 15-20 grams! Nutritionists recommend that for breakfast, you should have a smoothie made of Greek yogurt and fruits, and you will not feel hungry between meals. Also, the more protein in your diet, the better will be your muscle growth and recovery.

Carbohydrates

If you have been recommended a low-carb diet, yogurt is an item that can be slightly confusing. Many people simply assume that plain yogurt is low in carbohydrates, but that is not always the case. The carbohydrate content depends on what kind of milk the yogurt was made from, whether it was whole, skimmed or low or nonfat milk. The carbohydrate content can vary from 7-15 grams per 6 ounces.

While processing Greek yogurt, the majority of liquid whey and lactose is strained out (along with some salt and sugar). For this simple reason, it contains fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt. But as we said earlier, do not assume that a particular product is less in carbohydrates.

Before buying, always check the label on your favorite product’s container and pay particular attention to the listed serving size. You should always do this because some products have added flavors and fruits, thereby increasing the carbohydrate count.

Sodium

Compared with the regular variety, Greek yogurt contains only half the amount (approximately 50 milligrams) of sodium, though some regular yogurts advertise low-sodium varieties. This is important because if you have too much salt in your diet, it can contribute to an increase in blood pressure, and in turn increase the risk of heart-related problems and hypertension.

The American Medical Association recommends that your sodium intake should not exceed 2.3 grams a day (reduced to 1.5 grams if you are over 50), and Greek yogurt does exactly that. That being said, you should always consult a medical practitioner before you switch yogurts if you are on a low-sodium diet.

Fat

Any nutritionist or dietitian will ask you to opt for non-fat yogurt. You can find products on the market with less than 1 gram of fat content since most of them are produced using skimmed milk. Compared with regular yogurt, Greek yogurt contains slightly more fat.

So when you are looking at selecting a yogurt brand, be careful to read the labels on the packaging to check the contents. Some nutritionists recommend that you consume regular yogurt and then add your own toppings.

Calcium

Greek yogurt is strained (as many as 3 times in some cases). It contains less calcium than regular yogurts. But the process does not remove all the calcium, which, as we mentioned earlier, helps your vital organs function, and build muscles. A single serving of Greek yogurt can have as much as 19% of your daily calcium intake.

This is important because calcium helps slow down bone density loss and maintain bones. So consuming is also recommended for older people because Greek yogurt is not only an excellent source but does not require any chewing (unless it has been enriched with condiments).

Hopefully, by now you are clear on what is the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt. Let us make a list of the health benefits you get from both regular and Greek yogurt.

Health Benefits

  • Losing Weight: If you are a weight watcher, your diet is very important. Since Greek yogurt contains nearly double the amount of proteins and considerably less sugar than regular yogurt, it keeps your hunger sated for a longer period.
  • An antidote for Bad Breath: Don’t be surprised! A regular and daily dose of yogurt can keep your mouth free of bad breath. New studies have proved that yogurt is a natural cure for halitosis.
  • Great For Digestion: We already know that Greek yogurt is effective in fighting yeast infections, it is also very useful in maintaining your digestive health. The probiotics in yogurt help ease diarrhea and constipation.
  • Blood Pressure Regulation: As we read earlier, a high sodium diet can increase the chances of heart problems because of the increase in blood pressure. Greek yogurt contains calcium, potassium, and magnesium that help balance electrolyte concentration, which in turn helps in the dilation of blood vessels.
  • Improves Thyroid Function: Greek yogurt also contains iodine, that is excellent for the body metabolic’s functions and hence, help you keep an eye on your weight.
  • Great for the Mood: If you suffer from intestinal disorders, Greek yogurt can calm them down. When your body feels good, so does the mind. 

Conclusion

In this article, you found out what is the difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt and their benefits. The main difference between the two is that Greek yogurt is much thicker in consistency than regular yogurt, and is not as sweet. Regular yogurt contains more calcium than the former because it contains whey, which has calcium.

No matter which variety you prefer, try not to go with the much fancier versions of either (read: ones flavored and loaded with added sugar), and stay healthy!