Recently, the consumption of Greek yogurt has increased greatly in popularity. Walking down the dairy aisle of your local grocery store, you may notice a wider variety of Greek yogurt as more companies are beginning to expand with this trend. Greek yogurt differs from regular yogurt, as it is made when it is strained to remove the whey, or the liquid remaining after the milk is curdled. This produces a thicker yogurt with less sugar, fewer carbohydrates and more protein. We tend to think that Greek yogurt is an essential staple to a healthy diet. However, here are four common misconceptions about Greek yogurt and the truth behind them.
1. They are packed with protein. One of the most common thoughts when it comes to Greek yogurt is that each kind is packed with protein, making it better for you than regular yogurt. Though there is some truth to this idea, it does not ring true for every brand of yogurt. This could be attributed to the different straining processes used by individual companies as well as proportions when it comes to serving size. For example, some five-ounce containers are packed with nearly 10 grams of protein while Chobani’s six-ounce containers consist of 18 grams of protein — nearly a 50 percent increase. So remember, while Greek yogurt generally does consist of more protein than most regular yogurts, the amount is not consistent across the board. Different brands offer different amounts in each serving.
2. Greek yogurt is regulated. Contrary to popular belief, the FDA only has regulations in place for regular yogurt. That means that there are no rules to what can or cannot be labeled as “Greek yogurt.” As a result, companies can add additional ingredients to change the process of manufacturing the yogurt, while still being able to keep the “Greek” name. Often, they will add protein using whey concentrates and thickening agents such as modified corn starch, which in turn, makes the consumption of this yogurt less healthy than typically presumed. It is important to check labels prior to purchasing these yogurts to ensure that it is truly Greek. Look for milk and live active cultures as the main ingredients to confirm that you’re getting the real thing.
3. Greek yogurt is vegetarian friendly. This is not true for every brand. Often, gelatin may be added to Greek yogurt to give it the proper texture. Gelatin usually comes from collagen obtained from various animal byproducts, which can present a problem for vegetarians who still consume milk, cheese and yogurt. Check for gelatin on the list of ingredients if you wish to avoid such additives.
4. Flavored Greek yogurt is also healthy. Many of us like to assume that all Greek yogurt is healthy, but this is not the case. Flavored Greek yogurt tends to contain a lot of sugar — sometimes as much as 15 to 25 grams per serving. The suggested daily sugar intake is 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men, according to the American Heart Association. That means that eating flavored Greek yogurt can easily increase your sugar intake far past recommended levels. Your best option is to go with a plain Greek yogurt and lightly sweeten it with fresh pieces of fruit, or lightly drizzle it with honey.
So while you may be thinking that you have opted for the healthier option by eating Greek yogurt, this might not always be the case. The increase in the consumption of Greek yogurt labels it as a trend to companies looking to make a profit, and sometimes that means that ingredients of the less nutritious variety are added to match the Greek label. In this case, always be sure to check the ingredients before you buy so that it can be a healthy choice.