Different from American yogurt because it has a smoother and creamier texture, Greek yogurt is strained and the excess fluid is removed. The result is something that's both delicious and guilt-free because it's good for you. Greek yogurt has beneficial bacteria and lots of calcium just like American yogurt, but it has more protein and less sodium.
Greek yogurt is made with friendly bacteria called S. Thermophilus and L. Bulgaricus. These helpful little guys give yogurt its tangy flavor and also function as probiotics, which is the medical term for beneficial bacteria that live in your intestinal tract. Probiotics boost your immune system and alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort such as diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Greek yogurt doesn’t have quite as much calcium as regular American-style yogurt, but it’s still has a lot. Calcium is crucial for healthy teeth and strong bones, but it doesn't stop there. It's also important for nervous system function, normal muscle contractions and blood clotting. One cup of plain Greek yogurt provides about 25 percent of your daily need for calcium. That's almost as much as you'll get from a glass of milk.
More Protein and Fewer Carbs
Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein, too. That's important because you need protein to build and maintain tissues and organs. Plus, protein helps keep you feeling full longer. One cup of plain Greek yogurt has 20 grams protein, compared to 8 grams in the American version. Greek yogurt has fewer grams of carbohydrates, too, which is great news for carb counters. A cup of Greek yogurt has about 9 grams of carbohydrate, and typical American brands have about 12 grams.
Greek yogurt has about half the sodium of American yogurt, with about 80 milligrams versus 175 milligrams. It's a good idea to reduce your sodium to about 2,400 milligrams per day. Cutting back on sodium is good for your heart and might even help reduce some of that bloated feeling you get when you retain water right before your period.
Sheri Kay has a master's degree in human nutrition. She's the co-author of two books and has been a nutrition and fitness writer since 2004.