As with regular yogurt, Greek yogurt is made from fermented milk. But Greek yogurt is strained more times than traditional yogurt to remove more whey. As a result, Greek yogurt is thicker and has more protein than regular yogurt. Greek yogurt also has a higher amount of helpful bacteria called probiotics in it because it is more concentrated than regular yogurt.
Probiotics are a type of microorganism similar to the ones found in the human digestive system. These “good bacteria” help reduce harmful bacteria and organisms in the human gut and potentially encourage the response of the immune system when it’s needed. Probiotics are available in over-the-counter dietary supplements, but you can also find them naturally in foods like Greek yogurt.
How Probiotics in Greek Yogurt Help
According to the Obesity Action Coalition, yogurt is the No. 1 natural source of probiotics eaten by Americans. The live microorganisms in Greek yogurt can help improve your digestive system, help your body absorb nutrients and improve your immune health. Greek yogurt may also help ease gastrointestinal conditions like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, lactose intolerance and diarrhea. For best results, consume at least one serving of probiotic-rich foods like Greek yogurt every day.
Look for the words “Contains active cultures” on the label of your Greek yogurt to assure that the brand you choose has probiotics in it. The label might also include specific probiotic names such as Lactobacillus acidophilus or Lactobacillus casei. For optimal results, look for Greek yogurt that contains more than one probiotic strain. To add more Greek yogurt into your diet, use it in the place of ingredients like sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise in your favorite recipes. Unlike regular yogurt, Greek yogurt will not curdle when it is heated.
Use caution when cooking with Greek yogurt. Do not heat your Greek yogurt over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which can destroy the bacteria in the yogurt. Temper the yogurt instead of adding it directly to hot food by stirring a couple of tablespoons of the hot food into the Greek yogurt to gradually warm up the yogurt. Add the tempered yogurt into the hot food at the end of the cooking time so that it will not overheat.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Yogurt and Gut Function
- USA Today: Popular Probiotics Have Few Cons, Experts Say
- Obesity Action Coalition: Greek Yogurt What’s the Craze All About?
- The Washington Post: Probiotics’ Benefits Go Beyond Digestion
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Oral Probiotics: An Introduction
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Probiotics
- Enzyme-Facts: Greek Yogurt Brands
- Eating Well: The Promise of Probiotics
- The Wonder of Probiotics; John R. Taylor and Deborah Mitchell