What is Greek Yogurt
Yogurt is a widely loved dairy product, usually considered a healthy option for a midday snack. However, many brands of yogurt sold in stores contain lots of sugar and additives, making them practically useless in terms of health benefits. Greek Yogurt is a prominent exception for a number of good reasons. What are the benefits of greek yogurt for weight loss? Here is a quick read to find out all the hard and fast essentials about this universally available product.
Greek Yogurt differs from regular types of yogurt in the process of making. While all forms of yogurt are derived from milk through a process of fermentation with live cultures of healthy bacteria, companies use an additional process in the production of Greek Yogurt. Whey, a liquid containing lactose – a natural sugar in milk, is removed from Greek Yogurt through a straining process.
This way of draining the extra water and sugar of the usual yogurt product creates the creamy, thick texture beloved in Greek Yogurt. The texture as well as the lower sugar content have made it a favorite among those wanting to maintain or improve their body shape. The tangy flavor of Greek yogurt makes it a healthier substitute for mayonnaise, sour cream, or crème fraîche in recipes. There are multiple benefits of plain greek yogurt, largely stemming from the process of its production. Below are some of the most prominent greek yogurt health benefits for you to understand the crucial differences distinguishing this type of yogurt from others.
Greek Yogurt Benefits
High protein content
Proteins are crucial macronutrients found literally everywhere in the human body. Proteins repair and create new cells, boost growth, and protect the body from various viruses and bacteria.
Protein is vital for the functioning of your body in general. It is indispensable for strengthening your bones, boosting your brain activity, repairing damaged tissue, relieving muscle soreness, and curbing hunger cravings. Furthermore, increased protein intake is the best guarantee for improved muscle gains. A cup of greek yogurt can contain as much as 17 grams of protein, which is much higher than the protein content of most regular yogurt.
High protein content can also be considered one of the greek yogurt benefits for the purpose of weight loss. According to research (5), people may eat less during the day when they consume more protein. That is because the high protein content of the meal makes you feel satisfied longer.
Full of probiotics
Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for your health, especially your digestive system (6). People are used to thinking of bacteria as harmful, but many categories of these are actually really helpful, especially in the prevention and treatment of diarrhea and stomach pain. These good microorganisms keep your body healthy and energized, and prevent the domination of unhealthy bacteria, which may cause problems with immunity.
Great for mental health
This is one of the surprising benefits of greek yogurt, which stems from probiotics too. Do you remember having stomach pain because of stress? Well, it can work both ways: research (1) suggests that probiotics may positively affect your brain functioning and decrease negative thoughts and anxiety. This effect is achievable because of the relationship between your gut and your brain as the gut is able to build neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
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High in calcium
Calcium is a crucial element for bone health. Your heart, muscles, and nerves also need calcium to function correctly. Some scientific studies claim that calcium, along with vitamin D, may have benefits beyond bone health, perhaps protecting against cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure (2). A serving of Greek yogurt can provide about 18% of your recommended daily calcium needs.
Lots of vitamin B12
This is a rare quality, particularly important for vegetarians. Mostly, vitamin B12 is found in meat and seafood, which causes many to opt for B12 supplements. Greek yogurt is an amazing natural alternative, as it contains up to 21% of your daily B12 value as recommended by nutritionists.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps create DNA, the genetic material in all cells of your body. Getting enough vitamin B12 also helps prevent megaloblastic anemia, a type of anemia that makes people exhausted and weak.
Potassium vs. sodium
Potassium is a mineral and an electrolyte found in the foods you consume. Electrolytes conduct electrical impulses throughout your body. They assist in a wide spectrum of vital body functions, including blood pressure, normal water balance, muscle contractions, nerve impulses, digestion, heart rhythm, and pH balance (acidity and alkalinity). Many people consume an excess amount of sodium. Greek yogurt is high in potassium and low in sodium, both of which can help achieve a balance.
Best food for a workout
Every bodybuilder knows that building up muscle mass is impossible without stacking up on your protein intake. Proteins repair damage caused by vigorous exercise and help your body prepare for the next productive session.
Is great for weight loss
Aside from high protein intake, one of the crucial benefits of consuming greek yogurt for weight loss is its high iodine content. Also called iodide, iodine is a kind of mineral that’s naturally found in the earth’s soil and ocean waters. Iodine regulates hormones and fetal development, but its crucial benefit for weight loss is that getting enough iodine is essential for thyroid function. The thyroid gland regulates metabolism, which in turn could affect your weight loss progress.
How to buy the best Greek yogurt
Buying real Greek yogurt can be a challenging task because some manufacturers produce «Greek-style» yogurt by simply adding thickening agents to the usual type of yogurt. Of course, these do not provide the benefits of the real Greek yogurt. But that’s not all you need to know to experience greek yogurt benefits for weight loss because there is a great variety of yogurt on the market labeled «Greek» and not all of them are equally nutritious.
Plain Greek yogurt is a great choice, as they contain good quantities of all the macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates without added sugar or artificial sweeteners. You could add prepared fresh fruit such as bananas, apples or blueberries to make the perfect breakfast or midday snack.
Many varieties which are pre-flavored with fruit purées or honey – are not your best option if you wish to lose weight. These varieties are higher in added sugar and calories, so you can only enjoy them as an occasional treat and not consider them as a part of a healthy diet.
About low-fat or fat-free options
One of the most tricky things while choosing Greek yogurt is the fact that low-fat or fat-free options could actually be less healthy than regular, more fatty yogurt. Yes, low-fat or fat-free varieties will be lower in calories and fat but keep in mind that they may also contain more sugar as manufacturers often add this to ‘make up’ the lost flavor when the fat is reduced. In fact, the best option might be simply consuming a smaller portion of regular Greek yogurt. And the higher fat content will provide more satiety so that you won’t satisfy your hunger cravings with some not so healthy snacks.
You also need to check the labels to make sure that the yogurt you choose contains probiotics. Furthermore, real Greek yogurt won’t contain thickening agents like starches or gelatin, whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, modified food starch, or pectin.
As you can see, it is really important to check the labels when choosing Greek yogurt to get the most out of this delicious product.
To sum up, greek yogurt is a wonderful product that can be used in many ways. You can mix it with fruits in a dessert bowl, replace sour cream and mayonnaise, make it a topping for your soup, or simply spread it on slices of bread. Greek yogurt is one of the most healthy dairy products out there, but you should be cautious when choosing the exact brand and pay attention to the labels.
Multiple greek yogurt benefits for weight loss stem from its high protein and iodine content, and yet those can be compromised if you choose the product without proper attention. The benefits of eating greek yogurt everyday range from better muscle growth to decreased anxiety, but those can only be expected if you opt for a real and natural Greek yogurt.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood (2015, sciencedirect.com)
- Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance (2018, mayoclinic.org)
- Heart Disease (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)
- Protein (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)
- The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What Are Probiotics? (n.d., webmd.com)