By Jennifer D'Angelo Friedman, SELF magazine
Recently, we've noticed that more of our co-workers are snacking on Greek yogurt, or having it at their desks for breakfast.
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Turns out, ladies are going gaga for Greek yogurt all over the country, especially in the Northeast. The Greek yogurt business has grown over 100 percent every year for the last three years, making it one of the fastest-growing food categories of all time, according to financial services firm UBS.
Impressed? So are we.
Greek yogurt brands like Chobani now represent 19 percent of yogurt sales, and demand is largely coming from upper-income women looking for low-fat, high protein foods, according to the UBS report (via Business Insider).
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So is Greek yogurt -- which not everyone finds to be exactly delicious -- all it's cracked up to be? We asked Willow Jarosh and Stephanie Clarke, contributing editors at SELF and co-founders of C&J Nutrition, to weigh on its nutritional properties -- and give us a few ways to make it taste even better.
"Nutritionally, Greek yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt, with plain Greek yogurt providing about 19-21 grams of protein per 6 ounces. Regular yogurt has 6-7 grams per 6 ounces," Jarosh and Clarke say.
This doesn't mean that Greek yogurt is healthier than regular yogurt, but if someone is looking to add more protein to their diet, Greek yogurt is a better option. It also has less carbohydrate than regular yogurt, since some of the whey is removed.
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But if you're concerned about getting more calcium in your diet, you might want to stick with regular yogurt, Jarosh and Clarke advise.
"Greek yogurt has slightly less calcium per ounce than regular yogurt, because some of the calcium is removed with the whey. A 6 ounce serving of nonfat plain Greek yogurt has 200 mg calcium (20% Daily Value) versus 300 mg (30% Daily Value) in Greek style nonfat plain."
Fans love Greek yogurt's thicker and creamier consistency, but the UBS report specifically points out that people are going Greek because it's rich in protein -- not necessarily because they like how it tastes.
But there's a fix for that.
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"To add flavor to plain Greek yogurt, we suggest stirring in fresh, dried or frozen fruit (like berries or bananas, chopped apples, pears, etc.), which add fiber and natural sweetness; spices that bring out the natural sweetness in the yogurt, like cinnamon, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice; and/or nuts and seeds (like walnuts or sunflower seeds) which add flavor and healthful fat," Jarosh and Clarke recommend.
Not tempted yet? You can even add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup or brown or white sugar (about a teaspoon does it) if you need it to be sweeter, though Jarosh and Clarke suggest trying to add flavor via fruit only first.
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And even if you're not a yogurt fan, Greek yogurt also makes a great substitute for high calorie/high saturated fat condiments like sour cream or mayo in dips, salad dressings, etc.
So with all of the brands out there, which one is best? Jarosh and Clarke love Chobani, because it comes in nonfat flavored varieties (like pomegranate, lemon, cherry, vanilla) that are much lower in sugar than traditional flavored yogurt.
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Some Greek yogurt brands (like Chobani) also have the "Live & Active Cultures" seal, which identifies those yogurt products that are not heat treated after fermentation and therefore still contain beneficial live and active cultures. In other words, the seal means it's extra good for you.
We think we're going to give Greek yogurt a second chance! Do you like Greek yogurt?
More from SELF:
- 10 Ways to Lose Weight Like a Guy
- 20 Superfoods for Flat Abs
- Drop 10 Pounds With the New SELF Challenge
- 6 Moves to Six-Pack Abs
- 100 Calorie Treats You Will Love
Photo Credit: Condé Nast Digital Studio