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The Greek Yogurt Craze Finally Explained

Nowadays you can't walk down the dairy aisle without seeing a plethora of yogurt containers sporting 'Greek' in their title. Greek yogurt now dominates the dairy market with as an advertised healthier option; people can't seem to get enough of the Greek stuff. Even major dairy based franchises, such as Yeh!, have incorporated Greek yogurt into their menu to draw in the Greek loving crowds. But what is the big deal with Greek yogurt? Why do yogurt lovers flock to it, and nutritionists praise it? Is it truly a healthy food choice, or just another creamy treat masked by clever marketing? Well, we're busting the Greek yogurt case wide open, so read on to find out.

The Lowdown

Outside of the Western world, 'Greek' yogurt is actually known simply as strained yogurt. Strained yogurt is only different from the normal variety because it has been strained through some form of cloth to remove excess whey and become much thicker.

Greek and strained yogurt are now synonomous in the West as a result of marketing from major dairy brands. Traditional Greek yogurt isn't really even strained. In fact, some sellers use other thickening agents, as 'Greek' or 'Greek-style' yogurt is pretty much just thicker and creamier yogurt nowadays.

The Appeal

So what's the big deal about Greek yogurt anyway? Well for one, it is much thicker in consistency, and thus can act as a healthier substitute for things like sour cream and crème fraiche. In much the same way, Greek yogurt lends itself to savory flavors just as much as sweet, so it can be used much more in cooking or in dips like tzatziki.

Taste aside, the major appeal about Greek yogurt is its apparent health benefits. Regular yogurt is already known as a fairly healthy food, so is the Greek stuff really that much better for you?

The Breakdown

So there are a few things to consider when comparing Greek and regular yogurt: protein, carbs, and fats. With nearly twice the amount of protein in a 6 ounce serving, Greek yogurt is the clear winner in that respect. Naturally low in carbs, both yogurts are good for those still on Atkins, but be wary of added sugar and flavourings. In the fat department, Greek doesn't do too well. Full fat varieties can pack 16g of fat in a 7 ounce serving (vs. 5g for regular yogurt) which amounts to about three chocolate bars. That extra creaminess doesn't come from nowhere.

If you really want to be healthy with your Greek yogurt, opt for low or non-fat varieties. They maintain the carb and protein appeal with none of the added chunk of fat. Here's a breakdown of both nonfat varieties to help you see the differences:

Greek (5.3 ounces, nonfat, plain) vs. Regular (6 ounces, nonfat, plain)

Calories: 80 vs. 80

Total fat: 0 grams vs. 0 grams

Sugar: 6 grams vs. 12 grams

Protein: 15 grams vs. 9 grams

Calcium: 15 percent vs. 30 percent on a 2,000-calorie diet

To close the yogurt lid, there is a reason for the hype around Greek yogurt. Smoother, thicker, tangier, and arguably healthier than standard yogurt, Greek yogurt isn't just an empty nutrition fad.

Agree, or loathe what is Greek yogurt in the West? Let us know in the comments below.

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