Greek yogurt: a healthy alternative

Food has gained support of fitness gurus

Greek yogurt is not as sweet as regular yogurt and packs a heartier protein punch. Greek yogurt is not as sweet as regular yogurt and packs a heartier protein punch. Health trends often come and go. What’s healthy today might be considered detrimental tomorrow. And foods that are widely viewed as unhealthy today could very well be seen as beneficial down the road.

One food that has increasingly gained the support of fitness gurus and medical professionals alike is Greek yogurt.

Yogurt itself is one of those foods that seems to have its strong supporters, who recognize its nutritional value, as well as its detractors, who find its texture too unappealing to stomach.

Different from traditional American-style yogurts, Greek yogurt boasts a thicker texture than other yogurt counterparts.

That thicker, richer texture makes it more appealing to those who find the texture of thinner yogurts unappetizing. But Greek yogurt also provides a host of benefits that go beyond its more agreeable texture. • Greek yogurt packs a heartier protein punch. Greek yogurts typically provide significantly more protein than Americanstyle yogurts. Protein serves the human body in many ways, helping build healthy bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin.

Protein-heavy diets are currently “in,” though it’s important to consult a physician as to just how much protein is ideal for each individual. Still, a typical 6-ounce serving of Greek yogurt can provide as many as 15 grams of protein.

That’s as much as three times more protein than a 6- ounce serving of American-style nonfat yogurt typically provides.

• Greek yogurt is not as sweet. Many people try to minimize their daily consumption of sugar.

Overconsumption of sugar can negatively affect the skin, leading to more wrinkles; compromise the body’s immune system by making it harder for white blood cells to fight illness; and contribute to weight-related illnesses, including diabetes.

While the amount of sugar in a 6-ounce serving of yogurt is relatively negligible, Greek yogurt typically has half the amount of sugar as its Americanstyle counterparts.

Much of this is due to the texture of Greek yogurt and how that texture is achieved.

To get its distinctly thicker texture, Greek yogurt is made by repeatedly straining the whey off yogurt.

A significant amount of sugar is removed during this process. As a result, Greek yogurt does not have nearly as much sugar as American-style yogurt.

• Greek yogurt could help conquer intestinal problems. Nearly 60 million Americans suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, a highly uncomfortable condition characterized by abdominal pain and discomfort.

Until a person with IBS has a bowel movement, the pain can be intense.

Greek yogurt is minimally processed and isn’t heat-treated, providing the body with lactobacillus organisms that are easier to digest, improving intestinal health as a result.

Men, women and children who aren’t comfortable eating traditional American-style yogurt might want to try Greek yogurt, with a texture similar to that of a dessert.

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2011-08-04 digital edition

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