Greek Yogurt: Myths and Facts
Greek yogurt has enjoyed meteoric success in the U.S. in the last decade. Dr. Zhiping Yu, assistant professor in the Nutrition and Dietetics Flagship Program at the University of North Florida addresses some myths and reveals the true facts regarding Greek yogurt. Additionally, Clemson University’s Culinary Nutrition Undergraduate Student Research Group provides a recipe for Pasta Carbonara to incorporate more Greek yogurt in your diet.
Myth: Greek yogurt is a yogurt from Greece.
Fact: The history of where Greek yogurt originated is unclear. Greece is the obvious best guess. It’s also a common yogurt found in South Asia, other Mediterranean countries, the Middle East and now the United States.
Myth: Greek yogurt is made the same way as regular yogurt.
Facts: Greek yogurt starts out the same as regular yogurt by fermenting the milk with healthy live bacteria cultures, then it’s strained or concentrated to remove the liquid whey. Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier than regular yogurt. It takes up to four times the liquid milk to make the same amount of Greek yogurt as it does to make regular yogurt, which is the reason it’s more expensive than regular yogurt.
Myth: Greek yogurt is uniquely nutritious.
Fact: The nutrition value of Greek yogurt is superior to regular yogurt in that it’s higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates for a similar calorie count. A 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt contains 15 to 20 grams of protein, almost twice that of regular yogurt. The high-protein content helps to control hunger level, a benefit for those who are cutting calories or managing weight.
Like most yogurts, Greek yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics, which helps ensure proper digestion, absorption of some nutrients and support immune health. While calcium content is lower in Greek yogurt than regular yogurt (as it’s lost through the straining process), it’s still considered a good source of calcium.
Myth: Greek yogurt is lower in calories than regular yogurt.
Fact: The same serving of plain Greek yogurt has a similar calorie count as plain regular yogurt. Though Greek yogurt is lower in carbohydrates due to the straining process, some varieties of Greek yogurt have added sweeteners, which may significantly increase the carbohydrate and calorie content. Check the label for the nutrition value of different varieties of Greek yogurt.
Myth: The only way to enjoy Greek yogurt is as a snack.
Fact: Greek yogurt can be consumed in a variety of occasions – as a snack, a meal, an ingredient or as a substitution in cooking. Plain Greek yogurt may be eaten sweet or savory. In cooking, its thicker consistency makes it a great addition in place of higher fat ingredients, such as regular sour cream, heavy cream, mayonnaise and cream cheese.
Yields: 6 servings
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 ounces thinly-sliced prosciutto, diced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
2 whole eggs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound dry spaghetti
1 cup frozen sweet peas
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
In a medium nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add prosciutto and bell peppers. Cook while stirring often until heated through (about 2 minutes). Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook 30 seconds, stirring. Remove from heat; set aside. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Cook pasta in boiling water for 6 minutes, stirring often. Add peas to boiling water. Cook until pasta is tender but firm, about 4 additional minutes. Drain and reserve 1 cup pasta water. Put pasta directly in bowl with yogurt mixture; add reserved pasta water. Add prosciutto mixture. Toss to coat well. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped parsley.