Greek Yogurt Health Benefits Backed By Science
Greek yogurt is a thick, creamy, and protein-packed treat that's become a popular breakfast and snack option. It comes in plain or flavored, in various fat levels (full-fat, low-fat, non-fat).
This creamy dream is amazing plain, but also shines with fruit and granola for breakfast or blended into dips and sauces for a savory twist. Packed with calcium, vitamin B12, and gut-friendly probiotics, Greek yogurt offers deliciousness and potential health benefits in every spoonful.
What Is Greek Yogurt?
Greek yogurt is a type of yogurt that possesses a creamier consistency and a higher protein content than regular yogurt. It is also generally higher in protein and lower in sugar than regular yogurt.
It is made by taking regular yogurt and straining out the whey, which is the liquid part of the yogurt. This straining process results in a thicker, creamier yogurt. It can be enjoyed plain, with fruit, or as a base for dips, sauces, and smoothies. It can also be used in baking and cooking.
Greek Yogurt Nutritional Facts
Greek Yogurt is a full-packed punch of nutrition and a good source of protein, fat, and carbs based on the brand you choose to have.
Here is what the nutritional profile on a 7-ounce (200 grams) serving of low-fat, plain Greek yogurt looks like:
- Calories: 146
- Protein: 20 grams
- Fat: 3.8 grams
- Carbs: 7.8 grams
- B12: 43% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Riboflavin (B2): 35% of the DV
- Pantothenic acid (B5): 19% of the DV
- Vitamin A: 20% of the DV
- Calcium: 18% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 22% of the DV
- Potassium: 6% of the DV
- Zinc: 11% of the DV
- Selenium: 45% of the DV
It is particularly rich in protein, Vitamin B12, riboflavin B2, and selenium and is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, zinc, pantothenic acid, vitamin A, and potassium. Protein intake can be seen around 20 grams which seems to be higher but contains less calorie quantity.
1. Benefit Bone Health
Being rich in calcium and protein, eating Greek yogurt can be beneficial to your bone strength and health. The 200 grams serving contains almost about 18% calcium of the regular dietary intake including other nutrients needed for the skeletal system, including magnesium and phosphorus.
Its intake has been linked to greater bone mineral density and lower risks of osteopenia and osteoporosis among older adults.
2. Reduce Appetite And Promote Fullness
One gram of protein provides more satiety than one gram of carbs or fat. Greek yogurt boasts a much higher protein content compared to regular yogurt, with some brands containing up to 20 grams per serving. This protein helps you feel fuller for longer, potentially reducing cravings and overall calorie intake.
It also has a lower energy density, meaning it has fewer calories per gram. This translates to feeling fuller even with a smaller portion, potentially leading to reduced calorie intake overall.
3. Improves Gut Health
Greek yogurt often contains probiotics, live bacteria that contribute to a healthy gut microbiome potentially inhibiting the growth of harmful ones.
This can lead to benefits like improved digestion, reduced inflammation, and even a strengthened immune system. Its high protein content also can indirectly benefit gut health by promoting a feeling of fullness and potentially reducing unhealthy snacking that can disrupt gut bacteria.
4. Building Muscle Mass
A typical 7-ounce container can contain anywhere between 15-25 grams of protein, depending on the brand and type. Protein is very essential element to support muscle growth in humans.
It contains two main types of protein: whey and casein. Whey is fast-digesting, providing readily available amino acids for immediate muscle repair and growth after exercise. Casein is slow-digesting, supplying a sustained release of amino acids over several hours, helping prevent muscle breakdown and support ongoing muscle synthesis.
5. Encourages A Good Mental Health
Greek yogurt packs a punch of brain-beneficial nutrients. Protein is crucial for neurotransmitter production and neural communication, while B vitamins contribute to energy production and cognitive function. Calcium and vitamin D might also play roles in brain health.
A 2016 study found that workers who ate 100 grams of probiotic yogurt a day experienced less stress, depression, and anxiety rather than those who did not.
6. Boost Metabolism
Greek yogurt contains iodine, a mineral vital for proper thyroid function. The thyroid plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism, so ensuring sufficient iodine intake is vital.
The high protein content of Greek yogurt can help you feel fuller for longer, potentially leading to decreased calorie intake and aiding weight management. Some research suggests that protein can slightly increase your metabolism, meaning your body burns more calories at rest.
7. Can Help In Lowering Blood Pressure
Greek yogurt may aid in lowering blood pressure through various mechanisms. Its high protein content promotes satiety and helps regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the risk of insulin resistance and hypertension.
Additionally, Greek yogurt is rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, minerals crucial for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. The presence of bioactive peptides in yogurt may also contribute to blood pressure regulation by inhibiting the activity of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), a key player in blood pressure regulation.
8. Rich Source Of Protein
Greek yogurt is indeed a rich source of protein, typically containing twice as much protein per serving compared to regular yogurt. A single 7-ounce container of plain Greek yogurt can pack around 20 grams of protein.
This high protein content has been linked to several health benefits, including weight management, improved bone density, and body composition. Additionally, protein plays a crucial role in muscle building and repair, making Greek yogurt a valuable option for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
9. Reduces Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
Greek Yogurt can be a healthy snack for people with diabetes. If unsweetened and Greek-style, it is low in carbohydrates and high in protein which means that it won't cause a spike in blood sugar in people with diabetes like other carb sources.
Recent research shows that the Greek ones may have lower levels of glucose and insulin resistance as well as lower systolic blood pressure. As most yogurt contains added sugars, these yogurts with a carb amount of 15 g are ideal for serving people with diabetes.
10. Healthy Hair
Hair is primarily made of protein, so consuming enough protein is crucial for healthy hair growth. Greek yogurt being rich in protein might contribute to stronger hair.
You can also apply it with other ingredients to condition seriously damaged hair with its yogurt mask. You should combine two tablespoons of Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of honey and 1/4 tablespoon of coconut oil and leave it on your hair for 15-20 minutes before rinsing.
11. Easy To Add To Your Diet
Greek yogurt stands out with its distinct fermented flavor, offering a stronger taste profile compared to other yogurts. This bold flavor makes it a versatile addition to savory dishes, where it can thicken sauces and replace sour cream, thanks to its rich taste and creamy texture.
Incorporating Greek yogurt into your diet can be effortless and delicious. Enjoy it with honey for a simple breakfast, use it as a sour cream substitute, mix it into creamy sauces or spinach dip, or whip up some tzatziki for a flavorful condiment.
12. Improving heart health
Greek yogurt is connected to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels which leads to reduced risk of heart disease.
The cholesterol and triglyceride can harden or block your arteries leading to heart disease or atherosclerosis. Some studies suggest Greek yogurt can help lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and increase HDL ("good") cholesterol. This may be due to the presence of protein and probiotics.
Greek Yogurt Potential Side Effects
Greek yogurt, despite its numerous health benefits, presents potential side effects, particularly for individuals with specific sensitivities. These may include risks for those with lactose intolerance, hormonal imbalances, acne, or skin flare-ups.
Additionally, individuals with gluten intolerance or autoimmune disorders like celiac disease, Hashimoto's disease, or arthritis may experience adverse reactions. Moreover, flavored and sweetened varieties of Greek yogurt may contribute to weight gain. Being mindful of these potential side effects is crucial when incorporating Greek yogurt into one's diet.
Things To Look For In Greek Yogurt
When shopping for Greek yogurt, prioritize high protein content, aiming for at least 15 grams per 6-ounce serving, with strained varieties offering up to 25 grams. Opt for plain yogurt and sweeten with natural options like fruit or honey to avoid excessive added sugars, typically found in flavored varieties.
Look for options with "no added sugars" or low sugar content, ideally less than 5 grams per serving, for a healthier choice. Consider low-fat options for calorie control, but be aware of potential texture changes. Lastly, avoid yogurts with thickeners, stabilizers, artificial flavors, and excessive sweeteners to ensure a clean and nutritious option.
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