Greek Yogurt vs. Regular Yogurt: What’s the Difference?
Curious about what the difference is between Greek yogurt vs regular yogurt? Is Greek yogurt healthier? Which contains more lactose? As a Registered Dietitian, I’ll explain how they’re produced, the nutritional differences between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt, and the best uses for the two varieties of yogurt.
Seeing the variety of yogurts at the grocery store and wondering how they differ? Keep reading!
One of the more popular yogurt varieties right now is Greek yogurt. But there are also other varieties like traditional yogurt, Icelandic skyr yogurt, and kefir. It can definitely be a challenge to keep them all straight, and understand their differences!
In this post, we’ll look at the differences between Greek yogurt vs regular yogurt, including:
- how they’re made
- their nutrition profiles – to answer the question “is greek yogurt healthier than regular yogurt?“
- how to they’re used
Greek Yogurt vs Regular Yogurt
Yogurt is a dairy product that is produced by the bacterial fermentation of milk. Bacterial cultures get added to milk, and the bacteria feeds on the milk’s naturally-occurring sugars. This is called fermentation, a process that then converts the lactose in milk to lactic acid. Lactic acid is what gives yogurt its sharp, tart taste. And as lactic acid interacts with the proteins in milk, they start to coagulate, resulting in the thick and creamy texture of yogurt.
Greek yogurt, also referred to as strained yogurt, is produced in the same way as regular yogurt (by the bacterial fermentation of milk). However, at the end of the yogurt processing, the whey and other liquid is strained out of it. Straining the liquid results in a thicker end product.
The difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt occurs in those final processing steps. In the production of Greek yogurt, the whey and other liquids are strained out. This results in a thicker, tangier, higher-protein yogurt. Regular yogurt is not strained, therefore it is thinner and lower in protein compared to Greek yogurt.
Greek Yogurt vs Regular Yogurt Nutrition
Many people wonder if is greek yogurt is healthier than regular yogurt. Both are nutritious choices, and whether you choose Greek yogurt over normal yogurt may depend on your preferences and goals.
Greek yogurt does contain higher amounts of protein and slightly lower amounts of sugar compared to to regular yogurt. That being said, it also requires more milk to produce, therefore it contains slightly more calories and tends to be more expensive than regular yogurt. On the other hand, because it isn’t strained, regular yogurt has a higher calcium content compared to Greek yogurt.
Protein is an important macronutrient to include in meals and snacks because it helps us feel full. It also supports muscle recovery and growth. Therefore, if you are an athlete, looking to build muscle, or want to feel more satisfied after eating, you may choose Greek yogurt over regular.
Both Greek yogurt and plain or regular yogurt contain probiotics. Remember, both Greek and regular yogurts are made by fermenting milk with bacterial cultures (aka probiotics). So whether you choose Greek or regular yogurt, both contain bacterial cultures.
When Greek yogurt is strained of liquid and whey, some of the lactose (the main naturally-occurring sugar in milk) is also removed. While it’s not lactose-free, Greek yogurt contains smaller amounts of lactose, carbohydrates, and sugars compared to regular yogurt. Therefore, Greek yogurt may be more tolerable for those with lactose intolerance.
How to Use Greek Yogurt and Normal Yogurt:
Both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are very nutritious and very versatile. That being said, Greek yogurt is often used in recipes where a thicker texture is required, like certain dips and sauces (think tzatziki or artichoke dip).
Plain Greek yogurt also makes a great higher-protein alternative to sour cream, so you can serve it with nachos and taco bowls. Personally, I love using Greek yogurt in overnight oats, and healthy desserts like homemade fudgesicles and Greek yogurt bark.
Because it’s thinner and a little more smooth, regular yogurt makes a great addition to things like smoothies, dressings, and marinades. That being said, you can generally use Greek yogurt in these recipes too!
And of course, both regular and Greek yogurt are delicious served as a nutritious breakfast or snack with fruit, nuts, seeds, and/or granola!
Yes, in most recipes you can easily substitute Greek yogurt for regular yogurt and vice versa. So long as the flavours are the same (i.e. unflavoured Greek yogurt for unflavoured plain yogurt or strawberry Greek yogurt for regular strawberry yogurt). Just know that if you are using Greek yogurt, your final product may be more tangy with a thicker consistency.
Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are produced very similarly. The main difference is that Greek yogurt is strained, removing the whey and liquid from the final product.
As a result, Greek yogurt tends to be thicker, and contains higher amounts of protein and calories, and lower amounts of carbohydrates, sugars, and calcium compared to regular yogurt. Greek yogurt also contains smaller amounts of lactose and may be better tolerated by those with lactose intolerance.
Both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are a source of probiotics as they are produced by fermenting milk with bacterial cultures. They are versatile and nutritious, and can both be included as part of a healthy eating pattern.
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