Over the years, the varieties in the yoghurt section have grown. Wondering what’s the difference between Greek yoghurt and natural yoghurt? Is Greek yoghurt any healthier than its conventional counterpart?
How Yoghurt Is Made
Making both Greek and natural, regular yoghurt begins with the same process. Milk is first heated then cooled to a desired temperature to be fermented. Later, bacterial cultures are added. The mixture is then left to ferment to allow the bacteria (probiotics) to proliferate. The by-product of these good bacterial growth is lactic acid and this gels the milk proteins to produce natural yoghurt.
What Are The Differences?
The difference lies here - Greek yoghurt is heavily strained to remove the liquid whey and lactose (natural sugar found in milk) leaving behind a thicker texture with a tangier flavour.
Nutrition-wise, for almost the same amount of calories, Greek yoghurt has double the protein, half the carbohydrates and sodium compared to natural yoghurt - a nutritional winner, we’d say. Plus, with a lower lactose content, Greek yoghurt is less likely to upset the lactose-intolerant. In terms of fat, Greek yoghurt has close to three times more saturated fat than natural yoghurt, except for the non-fat options. Note that flavoured yoghurts have unnecessary added sugar. Have some fresh fruit instead if you’re craving for something sweet.
Which Should I Choose?
Deciding between the two types of yoghurt really depends on texture and dietary preferences. I’d go with Greek yoghurt for its obvious nutritional advantage as mentioned. Also, whenever I buy yoghurt, I personally look for the yoghurt with the most number of cultures (good bacterial strains) such as L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophillus, Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei.
Fat-Free or Low-Fat?
I grew up eating low-fat yoghurt – simply thinking that this was the ‘healthier option’ and thought little of it after. My ‘aha’ moment came in university as a Food Science major - that fat gave food a rich texture and mouth feel and prolonged satiety. In the case of low-fat and fat-free options, something has to be added to compensate for the reduced fat content and more often than not, the filler used is added sugar. Sure didn’t sound healthy to me. I then began to explore full-fat, Greek yoghurt. This had a fuller, richer and rounder flavour. I soon concluded that I’d rather eat a small serving of full fat food than all the fat-free food combined. After all, not all fats are equal and we do need good fats in our diet.
Versatility of Greek Yoghurt
The thick and creamier texture of Greek yoghurt makes it a good substitute for sour cream, butter, cheese or mayonnaise to cut the calories and boost the nutritional content of your foods. Use a dollop of yoghurt in your smoothie, breakfast bowl, dips and salads.
Making Your Own Yoghurt
- Half gallon of whole milk – makes it thick and creamy
- Half cup of yoghurt with active cultures (avoid flavoured yoghurts)
Mix the milk and yoghurt and leave it in a pot with a lid. Allow the bacteria to ferment and turn the milk into yoghurt. You can of course, use a yoghurt maker. These are great to hold the yoghurt at a steady temperature as it incubates.