Improve Your Physique with the Greek!

By Lindsay Martin, Ball State University Intern

Have you ever seen the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding?”  Whether you have or not, you will find it humorous knowing the Portokalos family, throughout the film, tried to fix everything, including acne, with Windex.  And yes, by Windex I mean the glass cleaner.  Other than these laugh-out-loud moments, the family fully embraced the Greek cuisine.  A particular food that comes to mind is Greek yogurt; which is now becoming increasingly popular.

Most people enjoy this thick, creamy yogurt with fruit, granola, or as the base of numerous dips and sauces.  Personally, a dash of cinnamon stirred into a 6-ounce container of plain, fat-free Greek yogurt is a regular snack in my diet. Other than the delicious taste of Greek yogurt, I’ve had friends and family members question me about the nutrition difference between regular and Greek yogurt.

It takes about 3-4 pounds of raw milk to make one pound of the Greek yogurt while regular yogurt uses varying amounts of milk depending on the processor.  Greek yogurt actually goes through a unique straining process to remove the watery-whey from yogurt.  The additional straining step to make Greek yogurt yields the very thick and creamy texture.  When it comes to comparing Greek yogurt to regular yogurt nutrition-wise, there are a few differences and similarities.  To put these two items on the “same playing field”, let’s compare plain, fat-free versions.  In general, Greek yogurt will be lower in sugar and sodium than regular yogurt.  It’s also generally higher in protein compared to its regular counterpart.  Some Greek yogurt brands have as much as 17 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving whereas regular yogurt may have about 8 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving.  Calorie-wise, both yogurts can range from 70-100 calories. NOTE: choosing the plain flavor is always wise because you can add seasonal berries and/or spices to enhance the flavor and nutrition.

Regarding vitamins and minerals, Greek yogurt is definitely a great source of calcium (up to 30% of daily needs), but regular yogurt may contain more depending on the brand (20-45% of daily needs).   Not all yogurts are fortified with Vitamin D, so read the nutrition label!  By the way, reading the nutrition label on any food or beverage is always worth the extra few seconds it takes.  Anyway, similar to milk, both yogurts can provide one with beneficial potassium, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and other nutrients.

At the end of the day I will most likely have both types of yogurt in my refrigerator.  They are both extremely beneficial to the diet and can surely “fix” more things in my body than Windex.  Shoot, I wonder if applying Greek yogurt can help with my skin.  I’ll make sure to take a picture if I ever give that try (haha).  I’m sure the Portokalos family would say “Yes, Greek yogurt fix all things.”

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