Greek yogurt, also called strained yogurt or filtered yogurt, is different from regular American yogurt. It is creamier than regular yogurt, as the watery whey is strained during the manufacturing process. The result is a thicker, creamier and slightly tangier taste than typical American yogurt. When choosing the best Greek yogurt, look for a product that is made with natural ingredients, high in protein and calcium, low in fat and sugar content, and produced domestically. Some companies also offer their own special flavors, so if you are looking for a particular fruit or flavor blend, shop the various Greek yogurt brands.
Old-style yogurt is commonly made from sheep's milk, but larger factories use cow's milk. Both types of milk contain lactose and are therefore unsuited for a lactose-intolerant diet. All yogurt contains live bacteria cultures, such as acidophilus and lactobacilus, but Greek yogurt contains two to three times more cultures. Greek yogurt contains more protein and carbohydrates and less sugar and sodium than regular yogurt and is considered an excellent choice for nutrition-conscious shoppers.
Traditional Greek yogurt is very high in fat. A seven-ounce container of Greek yogurt can include a whopping 10 to 16 grams of saturated fat, more than half the recommended daily fat intake for a 2,000 calorie diet. So if you are watching your weight or have high cholesterol, look for the low-fat brands. If you are on a gluten-free diet, check the ingredients list and avoid brands that contain wheat thickeners or stabilizers, gelatines or gum blends. For any yogurt containing fruits or flavorings, make sure to read the label carefully for hidden colorings and preservatives.
For the most nutritious and healthy yogurt, look for a brand that is domestically made and contains few or no preservatives. Domestically produced food manufacturers are usually more overt in revealing their ingredients and often do not contain the preservatives necessary for extensive exportation. Some yogurt companies make their products from 100 percent organic foods and usually state so on their labels. The most health-conscious manufacturers make their yogurt with milk from cows that are not fed synthetic growth hormones, such as Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBST).
If you are concerned about the environment, select a company that disposes of whey responsibly. Acidic whey, the by-product of the Greek yogurt manufacturing process, can disrupt sensitive microbiological ecosystems, especially in waterways (Ref 4). Some companies concerned with the environment are developing technology that enables them to recycle the leftover whey.