Skyr. Fage. Chobani. Oikos. Dannon. Cabot. What do they have in common? They are all brand names of Greek-style yogurt. Rich, creamy yogurt is integral to Grecians’ diet and has been around for thousands of years. In Greece, before a couple goes away on their honeymoon, they traditionally eat yogurt mixed with honey and walnuts for prosperity and energy.
Armenian immigrants first introduced yogurt commercially in the U.S. in 1929. In the 1960s, the general public began to look at yogurt as a health food. In 1980 yogurt was a $300 million market in the US and by 2005 it had grown to $3.5 billion. Global yogurt consumption is expected to surpass $67 billion by 2015. Consumers looking for high-protein foods have boosted the demand for Greek yogurt in the past decade.
How does Greek yogurt differ from the typical American-style yogurt? The manufacturing of Greek yogurt begins the same way as any other type of yogurt. Bacteria cultures are added to milk and then the milk is strained, numerous times, to remove the liquid whey, leaving a thick, creamy, concentrated yogurt that is high in protein. The repeated straining is what makes Greek yogurt different. Healthy bacteria in Greek yogurt include acidophilus and lactobacillus organisms.
Most Greek yogurts contain between 15 and 20 grams of protein per six-ounce serving, while regular yogurt usually contains between four to six grams of protein per serving. It can take up to four pounds of milk to make just one pound of Greek yogurt. Much of the natural sugar is removed during the straining as well, leaving Greek yogurt with about half the sugar of unsweetened, nonfat, typical American-style yogurt.
Why is yogurt so popular? Yogurt has a lot going for it. It is easy to eat, provides high-quality protein, comes in a variety of flavors, is a good source of calcium and potassium, can help lower cholesterol and has shown to be helpful in the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, allergies and yeast infections. Research has shown that children recover faster from diarrhea when they eat yogurt. Yogurt minimizes the effects of antibiotics on the friendly bacteria in the intestines.
Know your yogurt
• Whole milk yogurt contains seven grams of milk fat per 8-ounce serving. Low-fat yogurt contains between one and four grams of fat, while nonfat has less than a half gram.
• Swiss or custard-style yogurts are fruit and yogurt mixed together, with gelatin added as a stabilizer and for firmness. Swiss yogurt is fermented in vats and then transferred to individual cups.
• Fruit-added or plain yogurt has a runny consistency. The clear liquid on top is nutrient-rich whey and should be stirred into the yogurt before eating.
• Kefir is a liquid form of yogurt that may contained added sweeteners.
Heat-treating yogurt prolongs shelf life, but lactose-intolerant people who can tolerate yogurt containing live and active cultures may not be able to digest yogurt that has been heat-treated. Pasteurization deactivates the lactase and kills the live cultures. Yogurt-covered raisins, pretzels and candy usually do not contain live and active cultures. The National Yogurt Association has been urging the FDA for some time not to allow products that do not contain live and active cultures to be called “yogurt.”
Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie
6 oz. nonfat vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt
1 cup blueberries (or other fruit such as peaches, pineapple or strawberries)
¼ cup one-percent milk
2 tsp. honey (optional)
Place the yogurt, fruit, milk, honey and a couple of ice cubes in a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more honey for sweetness if desired. Frozen fruit can be used — just eliminate the ice.
275 calories, 19g protein, 47g carbs, 1g fat, 110mg sodium