Greek yogurt -- a thick, creamy variety of yogurt often made from sheep's milk -- has become the latest nutrition craze due to its high protein content and fat-free availability. It could be a great addition to your diet, but you shouldn't make it the focus of a diet or weight-loss plan; the best diets are those that include healthy choices from all food groups.
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The straining process used to make Green yogurt gives it a natural thickness without the need to add commercial thickeners like gelatin. That factor plus its high protein content -- up to twice the amount as regular yogurt -- makes Greek yogurt a healthy, satisfying snack or small meal. Like other yogurt and dairy products, it also contains calcium, a necessary mineral. Greek yogurt is available in full-fat, low-fat and fat-free forms and in a variety of flavors.
Plain, unsweetened, fat-free Greek yogurt is a healthy substitute for sour cream in dips or as a condiment. If you want to cook with it, you may want to choose a low-fat version instead of fat-free; the added fat content helps prevent it from curdling. Top unsweetened Greek yogurt with fruit or honey for a healthy dessert or sweet snack. If you buy flavored Greek yogurt, check the label for added sugar or artificial flavors.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends a daily dairy intake of about 3 cups for both men and women. That includes not just yogurt, but also any milk, cheese or other dairy products you consume per day. Consuming more dairy than the recommended amount may not be harmful, but it could trigger some of the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance, such as indigestion or bloating. Many older people and members of certain ethnic groups are lactose intolerant and may not realize it until after eating too much dairy at once.
Be wary of any yogurt product that claims to offer probiotic benefits. Several yogurt manufacturers have hyped the supposed benefits of the probiotic bacteria in their products, saying that probiotics can boost your immune system, prevent the cold or flu and regulate your digestive tract. The FTC has ordered an end to these marketing messages as of December 2010. Although probiotic bacteria are not harmful, solid clinical research to prove their benefits has not yet been conducted.