No longer an item exclusive to health food stores, Greek yogurt is a thick, creamy variety of yogurt that is a staple in most supermarkets. Benefits of fat-free Greek yogurt include being free from cholesterol-raising, unhealthy saturated fat and providing probiotics and essential protein, vitamins and minerals. You can eat Greek yogurt for any meal or snack on its own or include it in recipes.
One cup of fat-free Greek yogurt typically has 140 calories, making it a viable choice for a calorie-controlled snack or a great complement to a meal if you are watching your weight. A snack consisting of a cup of Greek yogurt with a cup of strawberries or raw vegetables, such as red pepper strips, has about 200 calories. A cup of fat-free Greek yogurt with a cup of cooked oatmeal provides a 300-calorie breakfast. A low-calorie lunch idea is tuna blended with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise, served with a salad that includes tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, pepper and lemon juice.
Protein and Lactose
Each cup of fat-free Greek yogurt provides 25 grams of protein, or 50 percent of the daily value for protein based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Protein is a filling nutrient that helps delay hunger and can aid in weight control. Regular yogurt has only 13 grams of protein per cup. Some people are unable to tolerate lactose, a type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. Lactose-intolerant people who are unable to eat regular yogurt may be able to tolerate Greek yogurt because it has a lower lactose content, notes the University of Tennessee website. Greek yogurt has only 6 grams of lactose per cup, while the same size serving of regular yogurt has 17 grams.
Each cup of fat-free Greek yogurt provides 264 milligrams of calcium, or 26 percent of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Calcium is a major structural component of the bones and teeth. It also aids in blood pressure regulation and proper muscle contraction. Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium; however, Greek yogurt is not a natural source of this vitamin. To enhance calcium absorption from Greek yogurt, choose a vitamin D-fortified variety or eat your yogurt with a source of vitamin D, such as salmon or tuna for lunch or dinner, or vitamin D-fortified cereal for breakfast.
Things to Keep in Mind
Compared to plain fat-free Greek yogurt, flavored varieties can be higher in calories and carbohydrates if they contain added sugars. You can use plain, fat-free Greek yogurt as a substitute for full-fat sour cream or cream to make dips and salad dressings higher in protein and lower in calories. You might also want to use it as a substitute for full-fat ingredients in such dishes as tzatziki, butternut squash soup, creamed spinach or smoothies. Try blending fat-free Greek yogurt with mashed cauliflower for a healthier and lower-carbohydrate alternative to traditional mashed potatoes with butter.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Yogurt, Greek, Plain, Nonfat.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Yogurt, Plain, Skim Milk, 13 Grams Protein Per 8 Ounce
- Linus Pauling Institute: Calcium
- University of Tennessee Medical Center: The Benefits of Eating Greek Yogurt