Greek yogurt: under the superfood microscope

In the last 5 years, Greek yogurt has become a multibillion-dollar industry in the United States, and it’s only getting more popular. If you already make an effort to buy mostly healthy foods, Greek yogurt has probably been on your radar for quite some time. And if you already eat a lot of Greek yogurt, then you definitely understand its tasty appeal.

Look at the label

Because there’s no official regulation of what is or isn’t called ‘Greek yogurt,’ there are a lot of unhealthy kinds out there that may not fit under the ‘superfood’ umbrella. When you’re looking for a good Greek yogurt it’s especially important to look at the list of ingredients. Some Greek yogurts are high in sugar, and others are low in calcium – they can really vary, so you want to be absolutely certain that what you’re purchasing is better for you than regular yogurt.

  • Fat content: You might not eat a lot of fat throughout the course of the day, but if you do get a lot of fat or are watching your calories, it’s best to buy Greek yogurt with low-fat or that is fat-free.
  • Flavor: Flavor usually means added sugar, and it definitely doesn’t guarantee nutritional value. Plain Greek yogurt is usually healthier than flavored Greek yogurt.
  • Fillers like sweeteners, added calcium or protein, or probiotics: Some fillers don’t add any nutritional value, and so aren’t considered very healthy – artificial sweeteners, for example, or high fructose corn syrup. Other fillers like calcium, protein, and probiotics are healthy, on the other hand. Generally, however, the more fillers, the lower the nutritional profile, and the shorter the list of ingredients, the better.

What makes certain forms of Greek yogurt so healthy?

Even just a spoonful of healthy Greek yogurt will do your body good, as Greek yogurt is packed with different nutrients that have a ton of positive health effects. Here are some of the definite things that make Greek yogurt a healthy option for pregnancy:

  • Protein: The amount of protein in Greek yogurt is almost double what you’d get in regular yogurt. This is especially important in pregnancy because protein supports fetal development and provides you with energy.
  • Sugar content: Greek yogurt has significantly less sugar than regular yogurt – almost half the amount. Because of the lower sugar content, Greek yogurt may be recommended for women who have gestational diabetes.
  • Potassium: This mineral helps your body send nerve impulses, contract muscles, convert energy from various sources, and keep your water and electrolyte levels balanced. Weight gain in pregnancy means more electrolytes, so potassium is essential right now. Pregnant women need about 4700 mg per day, and one serving of Greek yogurt has about 240 mg of potassium.
  • Carbohydrates: Nonfat Greek yogurt typically has fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt.
  • Probiotics: The fermentation process adds healthy probiotic bacteria to greek yogurt, and these bacteria help our digestion and balance out the bacteria in our guts.
  • Lactose content: The straining process of Greek yogurt is why Greek yogurt is so creamy, and it also removes the lactose, making Greek yogurt easier for most people to digest.

Another good thing about Greek yogurt is that unlike regular yogurt, its texture makes it so that it can be used to replace a lot of different foods. It can be used like regular yogurt in smoothies or egg recipes, for example, but it can also be substituted for mayo, marinade, and sour cream, and it can also serve as a sweet or savory side dish.

Are these recipe ideas making you hungry? If so, try some! The healthy versions of Greek yogurt are among the healthiest and most delicious foods you can eat, and will provide you with plenty of much-needed nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy.

  • “Ch. 17: Nutrition During Pregnancy.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Apr 2015. Web.
  • “Guideline: Food Safety for Pregnant Women.” FDA. USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service, HHS, Food and Drug Administration, Jan 18 2017. Web. 
  • Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN. “Top Tips for Eating Right During Pregnancy.” EatRight. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2017. Web.
  • “Pregnancy and Nutrition.” MedlinePlus. Dept of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, NIH, HHS, Jan 2017. Web.
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