Yogurt offers some remarkable health benefits: it feeds good gut bacteria we need for digestion and strong immunity; it’s a great source of calcium, B vitamins and protein; and the more we eat, the thinner we get.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported the more yogurt participants ate, the less weight they gained as they aged. The opposite happens when you eat French fries.
Whole milk yogurt provides CLA, a fatty acid that protects us from cancer, and contributes to its slimming properties.
So what about the wildly popular Greek yogurt? Is it any healthier than regular?
Greek yogurt is regular yogurt, strained of it watery whey. You can make it yourself: put some whole milk yogurt into cheesecloth, tie it into a bundle, and let it drip into a bowl. In a few hours you have “Greek” yogurt. You also have a bowl of whey. Don’t toss this.
Whey turns out to be super healthy: it provides what the body needs to make glutathione, a powerful and elusive anti-aging antioxidant. Whey keeps our immune system strong and protects us from cancer and other diseases of aging. Whey promotes muscle formation. It also helps keep blood sugar levels stable, protecting us from diabetes.
Many of yogurt’s nutrients are in the whey. Whey contains up to 70% of the vitamin B12, 75% of the B6 and pantothenic acid and up to 90% of the thiamin, folate and niacin. Traditional Greek yogurt is lacking this plethora of health benefits.
I once lived in southwest Turkey, a neighbor to the Greek islands. The Turks too strain their yogurt. This is the only version available at farmer’s markets there. Knowing that whey is highly nutritious, I once asked my Turkish dairy farmer if she would sell me regular yogurt, with whey. She reported whey is used to make a special cheese and to feed the children, and not available to me.
Of course! This gives their kids a true super food. I am sure the Greeks too keep this extraordinary dairy byproduct for their children.
There is one potential benefit of Greek yogurt; it is strained of most of the lactose, if you happen to be lactose intolerant.
If you tolerate milk, yogurt is among the healthiest of dairy foods, especially full-fat, plain, regular style. If you want your health and creamy style yogurt too, make your own Greek and keep the whey to soak your grains or add to another dish.
Don’t offset yogurt’s many benefits by choosing sugared or fat-free yogurt and avoid any milk products that contain hormones including rBST.
Click here to see a list of popular Greek yogurts and their relative merits.