I hope you know that I’m writing this blog for you and your families as much as I am writing it for me and my family! Many of the topics that come up here are ones that come up in my life, whether it’s a question that I have or one that a friend has asked. (By the way, that’s often the way I come up with an idea for a new post, so keep your questions coming!)
Earlier this week my husband asked me what the difference is between Greek and regular yogurt. I’ve had both (in fact, there’s some Greek yogurt in my refrigerator right now), but the best answer I could come up with is that Greek yogurt has more protein and a thicker consistency than regular yogurt. But then I was stuck.
Why these differences? Is it the kind of milk that’s used? The bacterial cultures? Something in the recipe or the processing? Are there other differences?
So I did some digging.
It turns out that both Greek and regular yogurts start out with the same ingredients – milk and bacterial cultures. In fact, both types of yogurt even use the same bacterial cultures (Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, if you were wondering).
The bacteria ferment the lactose (milk sugar) in the milk and produce lactic acid. Different strains of bacteria have slightly different fermentation processes, and have slightly different fermentation products, but the end result is primarily lactic acid. So some strains of bacteria might produce a fermented yogurt that is more acidic, or more bitter, or more sour.
(PS, think of a strain of bacteria like a breed of dog. The bacteria is still Streptococcus thermophilus, just like all dogs are Canis familiaris, but some dogs are golden retreivers and some are Chihuahuas. Bacteria have similar breeds, or strains.)
After fermentation, the liquid whey is strained off the solid yogurt. Regular yogurt is strained twice, so there is still some liquid left in the end product. Greek yogurt is strained three times, so most of the liquid is removed. This is what gives Greek yogurt its’ thicker consistency and stronger flavors compared to regular yogurt.
Because Greek yogurt is more “concentrated,” it has more protein than regular yogurt. The protein is left behind in the solid yogurt during the straining process. The whey contains most of the sodium, carbohydrates, and calcium, so Greek yogurts are lower in these nutrients than their regular counterparts.
In fact, so much volume is lost during the extra straining step that it typically takes 4 cups of raw milk to get 1 cup of Greek yogurt, while it only takes 1 cup of raw milk to get 1 cup of regular yogurt.
Here is a comparison of the nutritional value of Dannon strawberry yogurts.
|Nutritional Information||Dannon Fruit-on-the-Bottom||Dannon Oikos (Greek)|
|Size||170 g||150 g|
|Total fat||1.5 g||4.5 g|
|Cholesterol||5 mg||15 mg|
|Sodium||110 mg||55 mg|
|Potassium||290 mg||170 mg|
|Total Carbohydrates||28 g||18 g|
|Dietary Fiber||< 1 g||0 g|
|Sugars||26 g||17 g|
|Protein||6 g||11 g|
|Calcium||25% DV||15% DV|
Here’s a refresher on how to read a nutrition label.
(It’s pretty difficult to find the same flavors, in “regular” or “fat-free” from the same brand!)
While I love that Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt, I’m not crazy about the flavor of plain Greek yogurt. It’s too sour for my tastes. (I’m not really crazy about plain regular yogurt, either.) I think the flavored varieties, on the other hand, are pretty awesome.
Have you tried Greek yogurt before? Will you try it now? Let me know how you like it!