Thick and creamy Greek yogurt is catching on. What used to be a specialty food is now a product of major food manufacturers and available in the supermarket. To make Greek yogurt, milk is fermented with live bacterial cultures and then strained of liquid whey, resulting in the thick and tangy-tasting concentrated finished product. Though full-fat Greek yogurt is a rich source of healthy nutrients, it is high in saturated fat. Consider eating fat-free or reduced-fat Greek yogurt instead.
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Full-fat Greek yogurt is high in saturated fat not only because it's made from whole milk but it also becomes concentrated when the liquid whey is drained during production. A 1-cup serving of plain full-fat Greek yogurt from the manufacturer Fage contains 310 calories; 210 come from 23 g of total fat, of which 18 g is saturated fat. That equals 90 percent of the daily recommended limit of saturated fat for a 2,000-calorie diet. Saturated fat raises cholesterol and increases the your risk of heart disease. The American heart Association recommends limiting your intake of saturated fat to just 7 percent of your total daily calories.
Greek yogurt loses some calcium when the whey is drained but it's still a good source. A 1-cup serving of Fage full-fat Greek yogurt contains 25 percent of the daily value of calcium, a mineral you need for healthy bones and teeth, blood clotting, muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm. Men ages 19 to 50 should aim for 1,000 mg of calcium daily and 1,200 mg after age 71. Women ages 19 to 50 should get 1,000 mg daily and 1,200 mg after age 50, according to MedlinePlus, the website of the National Institutes of Health.
Full-fat Greek yogurt is a good source of protein, a nutrient you need to include in your daily diet. Your body needs protein to build, maintain and repair your skin, hair, bones, muscles, cells, enzymes, organs and every other tissue. A cup of full-fat Fage Greek yogurt contains 18 g of protein, which is 36 percent of the daily value for a 2,000-calorie diet. The Institute of Medicine advises adults to get about 0.8 g of protein for every kg or 2.2 lbs. of body weight; that equals approximately 64 g, if you weigh 160 lbs.
Full-fat Greek yogurt contains probiotics, live bacterial cultures, which may have positive effects on your health. Yogurt's probiotics may strengthen your immune system, protect you from gastrointestinal infection, decrease your risk of osteoporosis and fight certain cancers. In addition, the lactose intolerant can eat yogurt because the bacterial cultures break down the lactose in milk. The probiotics remain live and active — and remain beneficial — only if the yogurt isn't heat-treated. The National Yogurt Association advises consumers to look for the "Live & Active Cultures" seal on yogurt packaging.