Everybody is going Greek. Greek yogurt is taking over the shelves at supermarkets nationwide. According to a NPR report, sales have increased 2500% from 2006 to 2011, with sales increasing from $60 million a year to $1.5 billion a year.
It’s everywhere we turn, but it can also do wonders for your health and medical weight loss plan (the thick, creamy consistency that satisfies your taste buds is just a bonus).
It can help shed fat. A University of Tennessee study found eating three servings of yogurt a day can increase fat loss. The study found participants who followed a high-calcium diet, which included three servings of yogurt, lost 22 percent more weight and 61 percent more body fat than those who solely reduced calories.
It has health-boosting probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that improve digestion and help you build resistance to harmful bacteria. They can even help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and research suggests these live and active cultures can improve immunity.
It is packed with protein. The thick, creamy texture indicates Greek yogurt is significantly higher in protein than regular yogurt. One, six-ounce serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt can pack in 15 to 20 grams of protein, which is about double the amount of protein you would find in regular yogurt. To put that number in perspective, one egg has about six grams of protein. It has the fullness factor, which is perfect for breakfast, a snack, or a post-dinner treat.
It is high in calcium. Got yogurt? Calcium builds strong bones, and yogurt doesn’t skimp on the essential nutrient. One serving supplies about 20 percent of your daily recommended value. Eat up! Studies have shown a diet high in calcium may also help keep your heart healthy.
It is low in lactose. Even the lactose intolerant can enjoy this nutrient-dense snack! About 30 million adults have some degree of lactose intolerance by age 20, making many dairy products uncomfortable to digest. The good news is Greek yogurt is easy on a sensitive stomach. It gets its thick consistency because it is strained of liquid whey, which is lactose.
It’s a great substitute for all your favorite dips. The consistency and taste of plain Greek yogurt closely resembles sour cream, which is often the main ingredient in your favorite guest-pleasing dips. But there is one big difference in the Greek stuff: a lot less fat. Next time you’re entertaining (or just craving a healthy snack), swap sour cream for Greek yogurt. Your guests won’t notice a difference and your belly will thank you.
Read the nutrition label. While Greek yogurt can be an excellent part of your diet, if you’re not careful, it can also wreck it. Some brands go overboard on sugar—the fruit-flavored types are usually the culprits. Plain, nonfat yogurt is the best way to go because it’s lowest in sugar. If it’s too tart for your taste buds, mix in fresh berries or honey for natural sweetness.
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