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.
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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.