By Kristi Winkels, RDN, LD
Have you noticed the growing yogurt aisle at the grocery store? With so many varieties, you might be wondering “what’s the difference?”
All yogurt starts with two ingredients: milk and friendly bacteria. This mixture is warmed starting an incubation process that converts lactose - milk’s natural sugar - into lactic acid which transforms the milk into yogurt. Different styles of yogurt differ in protein content, texture, and flavor depending on the fat content of the milk used and whether the yogurt is strained.
Greek and Icelandic style “skyr” yogurts are strained which gives these varieties a thicker texture and higher protein content. A 6-ounce serving of plain Greek yogurt contains about 18 grams of protein compared with about 5-7 grams in regular, unstrained yogurt.
Australian style yogurt isn’t strained like Greek and Icelandic varieties but is usually made with whole milk giving it a creamy texture. It has similar protein content to regular yogurt.
French style yogurt is unique in that it is set in individual glass containers rather than large batches which gives it a thicker texture than regular yogurt without straining it.
Like milk, yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. But some yogurt varieties are too high in added sugars, especially if additional “mix ins” like granola and chocolate chips are included. When choosing a yogurt, check the ingredient list for live and active cultures - these promote a healthy digestive system. Also, compare the sugar content of different varieties. Some flavored yogurts have 10 grams of added sugar or more! To avoid added sugars, choose plain yogurt and sweeten with a sliced banana, pineapple chunks, melon, or a handful of berries. You can even add a teaspoon of sugar or honey to sweeten plain yogurt and have less added sugar than many commercially flavored yogurts. Plain yogurt is also a great alternative to sour cream and can be used to make a savory veggie dip.
This recipe for Greek yogurt dill dip is a higher protein, lower fat alternative to typical ranch dips. Try it with your favorite fresh veggies!