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It’s All Greek to Me: Understanding the Differences between Regular Yogurt, Greek Yogurt and Kefir
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Regular yogurt, Greek yogurt and kefir

 

It can be overwhelming to walk down the dairy aisle and look at all of the choices available for yogurt. From Greek to regular to flavored to full-fat vs. fat-free it can difficult to decide which yogurt is best for your lifestyle. Keep reading and find out how these varieties are different.

Collectively, yogurts and kefir are nutritious foods that provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals and probiotics. Probiotics is a term encompassing all the good bacteria that have health benefits in the body.  These healthy bacteria keep your gut in balance and can aid in immune system function. The major nutrients in yogurts and kefir are:

  • Calcium:  Calcium is necessary for muscle, nerve, and bone health especially as we grow and age.
  • Phosphorous: Phosphorous produces energy for the body and is needed for building DNA and bone properly.
  • B vitamins:  B vitamins help multiple systems in our body function properly.

Regular Yogurt
Regular yogurt tends to have a thinner consistency compared to its Greek counterpart. That’s because there is more whey, a liquid containing lactose (natural sugar) and probiotics, in regular yogurt than Greek.  In addition, more calcium is present in regular yogurt than Greek.

Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt has a thicker, creamier consistency compared to regular yogurt. This is due to the whey being drained from the yogurt. Removing the whey condenses the Greek yogurt to its thicker consistency. During the whey removal process sugar is removed, but protein is left in. Greek yogurt has less sugars and more protein than regular yogurt due to the whey removal.  

Kefir
Kefir is a fermented milk product that comes in drinkable and yogurt-like forms. Kefir cups contain kefir that has been drained, leaving it with a thicker consistency like Greek yogurt. Compared to Greek yogurt, kefir has a wider, more abundant variety of probiotics and vitamins. These help keep the gut microbiota healthy, but don’t eat too much too soon! Mild stomach can occur with quick probiotic introduction. 

So, what product is best for me?  
This really depends on what you are looking to get out of your foods. Regular yogurt has more calcium and probiotics than Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt. Kefir has more probiotics than either of the yogurts. If that has you stumped, consider checking out the amounts and types of sugar and fat on the nutrition facts label. All yogurts and kefir have naturally occurring sugar (lactose), but most flavored yogurts have additional sugars. When looking at fats, choosing yogurt with lower saturated fats will provide greater heart health.

A great option is to choose plain yogurt. This allows you to be creative and use it in countless ways! Whether that is adding fruits and nuts for breakfast or using yogurt for an evening dish, such as mac and cheese, yogurt is a good way to add more nutrients to your day regardless of if it is regular or Greek.

Looking for some yogurt inspiration? Try some of these recipes!

Baked Middle Eastern Kofta and Veggies

Baked Middle Eastern Kofta (Meatballs) and Veggies
 

Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese

Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese

Vanilla Bean Yogurt Cheesecake

Vanilla Bean Yogurt Cheesecake

Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Chocolate Yogurt Dip

Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Chocolate Yogurt Dip

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