Greek yoghurt benefits the body in several ways, and in recent years has arguably surpassed regular yoghurt in terms of popularity. It’s a versatile option that has uses for every meal of the day, but just how is Greek style yoghurt healthy?
This article will walk you through the range of health benefits of Greek yoghurt, focusing on how eating Greek yoghurt can boost metabolism, and how it can help to improve bone and skeletal health.
Once we have covered the health benefits of Greek yoghurt in detail, we’ll focus on more practical advice, such as the yoghurt’s nutritional profile as well as providing some delicious recipes that you can incorporate Greek style yogurt into.
- What is Greek Yoghurt?
- Health Benefits of Greek Yoghurt
- What Nutrients Are In Greek Yoghurt?
- How Should I Eat Greek Yoghurt?
- Full Fat Vs Fat Free Greek Yoghurt
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Our Conclusions
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What Is Greek Yoghurt?
Before we even begin to answer the question of “is Greek yoghurt healthy?”, we must first break down what Greek yoghurt actually is.
The most obvious difference between Greek and regular yoghurt is its consistency. Typically, you will be able to pour regular yoghurt, however when it comes to Greek yoghurt the consistency is thicker, almost to the point where it’s solid.
This difference is down to one change in the manufacturing process, which is that Greek yoghurt is strained and regular yoghurt is not.
Straining refers to the process in which regular yoghurt is turned into Greek yoghurt. To do this, simply place regular yoghurt into a mesh cloth and allow the liquid in it to drain out.
These liquids are whey (which is often isolated for whey protein powder) and lactose, and once they’re removed it leaves behind a thicker yoghurt that is more concentrated with less moisture.
This remaining Greek yoghurt is left with gut-friendly probiotics, but also with a lower amount of calcium. However, it is also worth noting that some of the manufactures take this into account and fortify their Greek yoghurt with bone-strengthening nutrients.
If you’re looking to boost your calcium levels then look for Greek style yoghurt that specially advertises itself as being rich in calcium.
When it comes to debating full fat vs fat free Greek yoghurt, there isn’t that much differences to be found within the manufacturing process, with the biggest key difference being that full fat Greek yoghurt is made with full fat milk as opposed to semi/skimmed.
The big differences come within the yoghurts nutritional values, which we will cover in detail later in this article.
9 Health Benefits of Greek Yoghurt
If you've been wondering “is Greek yoghurt any good for you?”, you first need to understand that this product can benefit both our health and lifestyle in various ways.
We’ll explore just a few of the best health benefits of Greek yoghurt, as well as how they can revolutionise how you include the diverse food in your diet.
#1 - Improves Bone Health
If you are left questioning why is Greek yoghurt good for you, then the first health benefit on this list will hopefully shed some light into the topic.
The calcium that is included within specific brands of Greek yoghurt can help to improve your bone health. This is due to the fact calcium promotes bone health, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis (which is the damaging of bone that’s often associated with old age).
One of the surprising health benefits of natural Greek yoghurt is that it is better for your bones than milk. This is due to the fact that milk acidifies the body’s pH level, which means that calcium needs to be released from the bones in order to neutralise the acid. So whilst some people drink a lot of milk in order to gain calcium, they are actually slowly taking it away from their body at the same time.
However Greek yoghurt is different, as fermented dairy products are acid neutral so they won’t trigger the ‘calcium leaching’ process like milk does. Whilst increased levels of calcium is one of the health benefits of natural Greek yoghurt, it is not the only thing within Greek yoghurt which contributes to the strengthening of bones.
Greek yoghurt also contains lactoferrin, which can be found in raw cow’s milk and other fermented dairy products such as kefir. Lactoferrin contains an iron-building protein that has several roles when it comes to building and strengthening bones.
Lactoferrin improves muscles strength, as well as:
- Boosting the growth of osteoblasts (cells that build bone)
- Reducing the death rate of osteoblasts by 70%
- Decreasing the formation of osteoclasts (cells that breakdown the bone)
- Increasing the formation of cells that build cartilage
So, Greek yoghurt benefits not only your calcium level, but actively helps to fight off bone decay and damage.
#2 - Helps With Weight Control
If you are looking at the benefits of natural Greek yoghurt with a focus on weight management, you may be interested to know that it will also help you to lose weight, as the product acts as a natural appetite suppressant.
Many people think that Greek yoghurt makes you feel more full due to the fact that it is thicker than regular yoghurts. However, Greek yoghurt is also rich in protein, which is the element that makes these products the better snack if you’re looking to lose weight.
A 150g container of non-fat Greek contains 15 grams of protein, with its full fat counterpart containing 14 grams. This is compared to the 7 grams of protein that is found in regular yoghurts.
Therefore, we can say that the benefits of full fat greek yoghurt are equal to those of nonfat alternatives, as they both act as a strategic great nutritional option in terms of appetite control, keeping you fuller for longer intervals than regular yoghurts would.
The notion that higher levels of protein can control appetite is supported by research conducted in 2005 . This study found that, when individuals were given the same number of calories and carbohydrates, they reported feeling less hungry when the percentage of protein was 15% or above.
Perhaps even more interesting was that, when the participants were allowed to eat as many calories as they wanted, the participants on the high protein based diet ended up consuming 441 fewer calories, and lost an average of 11 pounds.
Greek yoghurt health benefits relating to weight control can also be found in other food products that have high protein and high healthy fat content, such as eggs (read more in our comprehensive report on the health benefits of eating eggs), cheese and avocado.
#3 - Improves Muscle Mass
As you may already know, protein rich diets are great for those of you who are looking to build muscle and get fit. Protein is essential for building, maintaining and repairing muscle tissue.
One of the health benefits of Greek yoghurt, is that it can assist you during this process, with low fat Greek yoghurt being an excellent choice for your post workout snack.
The muscle mass benefits of low-fat Greek yoghurt extend well beyond protein, and can also be attributed to carbohydrates and a varied fat content, as well as the previously mentioned high calcium levels. All of these aspects come together to help build bone and muscle following your exercise.
The reason why consuming snacks such as Greek yoghurt following a workout is so important, is because the carbohydrates can replenish your energy reserves, whilst its protein can help to repair any damaged muscles.
OriGym’s comprehensive guide to plant and animal protein explores the full effects of protein in much greater depth.
When it comes to the debate of full fat vs fat free Greek yoghurt, you can’t go wrong with either, and you should adapt your shopping and consumption around your needs and fitness goals.
For example, one of the benefits of full fat Greek yoghurt is that it is higher in carbohydrates. So if you choose the fat free option, you may have to make up for the loss of carbs with another meal or another snack.
For added nutrients, we would recommend eating Greek yoghurt with some fruit. Adding Vitamin C (through citrus fruits) has also been known to work well with proteins and carbohydrates when it comes to improving muscle mass.
#4 - Boosts Metabolism
Staying on the topic of protein based benefits of natural Greek yoghurt, the product has also been known to be good for your metabolism as it helps to burn more calories per day, when compared to regular yoghurt. Research has suggested that this is down to the fact that individuals with a high protein based diet burn more calories, than anyone else.
In addition to protein helping your weight loss journey, Greek yoghurt is also rich in vitamin B, one of the most important vitamins for energy. We predominantly get Vitamin B from our, so finding tasty foods with that nutrient will be incredibly beneficial to your body.
In fact, it was recently discovered that dieters who supplemented vitamin B into their diets with food products such as Greek yoghurt, lost three times as much weight when compared to dieters who didn’t.
If you’re looking to feel the most dietary benefits that greek yoghurt has to offer, we would recommend getting a low-fat option, as there will be less calories and fat content.
However, it is important to stress that solely eating Greek yoghurt is not enough and in order to aid weight loss further you must incorporate it into a balanced diet of proteins, fibrous carbohydrates and healthful fats.
#5 - Helps with Blood Pressure
Another one of Greek yoghurt health benefits is that it can help to balance out your body's sodium levels. This is due to the fact that one serving of Greek yoghurt can have up to 6.8% of your daily potassium intake value.
Potassium helps to lower blood pressure and balance out sodium levels within your body. If for whatever reason you suffer from high sodium levels, or you take in a lot of sodium from your diet, you may want to eat potassium rich foods like Greek yogurt in order to pass the excess sodium when you go to the toilet.
When it comes to lowering blood pressure, another one of the benefits of natural Greek yoghurt is that it is a form of probiotic fermented milk. Much like potassium, specific calcium rich food products (such as fermented milk) are known to help lower blood pressure too.
It is recommended that if you wish to lower blood pressure, you should consume fat-free Greek yoghurt. This is down to the fact that other dairy products (such as cheese and full fat yoghurt) can be high in fats which are bad for your heart.
One of the benefits of fat free Greek yoghurt is that it won’t clog your heart with saturated fats, and as an added bonus it’s a high protein yoghurt, which will only benefit your health further.
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#6 - Can Be Incorporated Into A Type 2 Diabetes Diet
If you suffer from type 2 diabetes it can often be difficult to find new adaptable foods that you can incorporate into your diet. But if you’re looking for a new healthy snack, or something to add to your daily foods that help burn fat, we can recommend Greek yoghurt.
It has been stated that the low number of carbohydrates that Greek yoghurt contains, is the dietary aspect that makes it the perfect snack. However, when it comes to actually purchasing a brand, the choice can be quite overwhelming. One of the health benefits of fat free Greek yoghurt, is that it’s the better choice for diabetes type 2 sufferers to eat, as there is always less carbs and sugar in these options.
One thing to keep in mind is try and avoid Greek yoghurt that contains pre-packed fruit, seeds or flavourings. These variations of the product contain excess sugar and carbs that are not friendly for your diet or lifestyle. If you want to flavour the yoghurt, we would recommend doing so yourself at home, that way you can monitor exactly what is going into it.
It is also recommended that you try to incorporate Greek yoghurt into your diet as much as possible, you could use it as a filling inside your baked potato, as a dip mixed with herbs, or you can mix it with honey and have it as a dessert with some fruit. Try to get creative, and look for recipes that you know you will personally enjoy.
As we answer that burning question “is Greek style yogurt healthy”, we need to stress the idea of moderation. You need to be careful with what product you buy, as not every product will offer you the same benefits as others will. Make sure to always read the nutritional guide, before you decide to purchase.
Whilst discussing the health benefits of Greek yoghurt in relation to type 2 diabetes, it is worth noting that it can also aid in the prevention of the health issue. This means that not only can fat free Greek yoghurt help individuals who already suffer from type 2 diabetes, but research conducted in 2014 linked eating more yoghurt to the decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in later life.
#7 - Encourages Good Mental Health
One of the more surprising findings of recent years is that Greek yoghurt benefits your mental health as well as your physical health. This beneficial property has been placed to the probiotics found within Greek yoghurt.
It’s been stated that one of the benefits of eating Greek yoghurt every day is that it can lower feelings of stress, depression and anxiety. This effect on our mental health is likely down to the relationship between the gut and the brain. The gut can help the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. So a healthy gut means a healthier and happier mind.
Many believe that the connection between your gut and mind can be represented on the gut-brain axis (GBA). This is the system that links your central nervous system (such as your brain and spinal cord) to your gastrointestinal tract.
But how exactly is Greek yoghurt healthy for your mind?
Well when we are stressed our gut loses the probiotic called lactobacillus, which is a type of ‘friendly’ bacteria that we need to regulate our stomach and keep it healthy. When we are stressed, the numbers of lactobacillus decrease, and this loss coupled with our already stressed mind, can trigger the onset of depressive episodes.
Microorganisms such as lactobacillus can improve your mental health by:
- Producing and expressing neurotransmitters that can affect appetite, mood and sleeping habits.
- Reduce inflammation within the body, especially when coupled with immunity boosting foods
- Affect your cognitive functions and how they respond to stress.
Foods that are high in probiotics such as Greek yoghurt benefits will help to increase the levels of lactobacillus within your body, allowing your GBA to regulate and produce stress-relief hormones.
While Greek yoghurt benefits us in so many ways, it’s important to remember that your health, both mental and physical, is paramount.
Whilst your mental health will feel the benefits of natural Greek yoghurt, it won’t be a complete replacement for therapy or proper mental health treatment. If you feel that you are suffering from prolonged bouts of depression or low mood, please take care of yourself and speak to a medical professional.
#8 - Improves Your Sleeping Pattern
When we ask questions such as “Is natural Greek yoghurt good for you?”, we tend to focus on bodily aspects such as diet, muscle mass and overall health, and very rarely take into account the effects certain foods can have on their sleeping pattern.
We’re going to stay on the topic of the GBA for this next point, which we’ve just learnt can affect a person's mood. However, it has also been found that this connection between body parts can also affect our sleeping pattern too.
Research has found that sleep deprivation may be down to a change of micro bacteria within the stomach. One of the benefits of eating Greek yoghurt every day is that it can help you get a better night's sleep, as your body's lactobacillus will remain regulated meaning you won’t have to worry about the onset of sleep deprivation or insomnia.
Another theory as to how Greek yoghurt benefits your sleeping pattern lies within amino acids and their benefits. Dairy products such as Greek yoghurt contain a specific amino acid called tryptophan, which many people have reported feeling drowsy after consuming. This is down to the fact that our body converts tryptophan into two hormones serotonin and melatonin.
These two hormones are scientifically known to improve sleeping patterns, as they reduce stress and intrusive thoughts, allowing you to drift off to sleep easier without the worry of any broken sleep at night.
Whilst everyone loves sleep, having Greek yoghurt as a late night snack also has further beneficial properties. A pre-bedtime snack consisting of two servings of Greek yogurt contains 40 grams of casein protein, which can translate into increased protein synthesis and muscle building.
So to summarise, if you find yourself wondering is Greek yoghurt is good for you and your sleeping pattern, the answer is a resounding yes. Not only will it improve your sleeping pattern, but can also improve your muscle development as you sleep.
#9 - Enhances Skin Health and Complexion
Is natural Greek yoghurt good for your skin? This may be one of the Greek yoghurt benefits that you didn’t expect to see on this list, but the product is not only good for your internal bodily health but can also help you externally too.
We have already talked about how the probiotics found in Greek yoghurt can be beneficial to your sleeping pattern and mental health, but how is greek yoghurt good for your skin? By adding a serving of it into your daily routine, the probiotics found in vitamins such as B2, B6 and B12 can ease any stress related blemishes.
These stress related skin reactions are a vicious circle to be in, once you get them you get more stressed which causes more reactions. Stop this deadly circle in its tracks by improving your diet and letting your skin feel the benefits.
But is Greek yoghurt healthy for your skin in other ways? Many have reported that applying Greek yoghurt to sunburn has helped to ease some of the painful burns. This is due to the fact that the food product is rich in zinc which can help to rebuild the skin's natural barrier. Simply apply a thin layer to your sunburn and gently dab it away after 10 minutes.
In addition to this greek yoghurt benefits dry and itchy skin too. Whether you suffer from dandruff or just general flakey skin, Greek yoghurt is packed full of enzymes that can help to reduce this irritation. Additionally, its antifungal properties can help to get rid of the fungus that causes the skin to flake off to begin with.
So not only is natural greek yoghurt good for your internal health, but it can also benefit your external health too. But please be aware to always try a patch test before applying heavy doses to the skin, leave a small blob on your hand for a few minutes just to ensure that you don’t have any allergies or reactions.
We hope this brief list into the beneficial aspects of Greek yoghurt has been informative and useful to your exercise journey. But should you want to know specific details about nutrition, our next section outlines exactly what you can expect from an average portion of Greek yoghurt.
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What Nutrients Are In Greek Yoghurt?
When it comes to considering “is natural Greek yoghurt good for you?”, it’s also vitally important to be aware of the nutritional benefits of Greek yoghurt before you even begin to consider incorporating it into your meals and lifestyles.
Whether you’re a personal trainer planning your meals, or just looking for a flavourful and adaptable way to get a boost of protein and calcium, Greek yoghurt is an ideal way to do it!
Now that we have covered our pick of the biggest Greek yoghurt benefits, we’ll examine its nutrient content in more detail. On average, 225 grams of fat-free Greek yoghurt contains:
- 179 Calories
- 10 Grams of Carbs
- 9 Grams of Sugar
- 24 Grams of Protein
- 5 Grams of Fat
- 25% of your Daily Value (DV) of Calcium
- 4% of your DV of Sodium
In terms of the benefits of full fat Greek yoghurt, the differences in nutritional value are drastic, as in the same amount (225g) of full fat Greek yogurt you can expect to see:
- 319 Calories
- 8 Grams of Carbohydrates
- 15 Grams of Sugar
- 19 Grams of Protein
- 22 Grams of Fat
Remember the nutritional properties that we have provided are just a general overview of both fat-free and full-fat Greek yoghurt. Different brands will have different values, and it’s crucial that you check the back of the pot before purchasing, in order to see if it is a suitable product for you.
“But Is Greek Yoghurt Any Good For You When Compared To Regular Yoghurt?”
This is a completely legitimate question, and one that you would understandably have after we’ve just looked at the multitude of benefits of Greek yoghurt.
So, we did the research for you. On average, a 225g serving of regular yoghurt consist of:
- 154 Calories
- 17 Grams of Carbohydrates
- 17 Grams of Sugar
- 13 Grams Protein
- 4 Grams of Fat
- 34% of Your RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) of Calcium
- 7% of Your RDI of Sodium
Therefore, it can be stated that when comparing Greek yoghurt benefits, against those of regular yoghurts, the two are somewhat interchangeable. This does not downplay the beneficial properties of either product, but rather it highlights the need to shop smart, and understand what you need from your diet.
Make sure you read the nutritional properties, in order to ensure that you’re buying a product that will target your specific goals. We’d recommend using a fitness journal to track your targets, and jot down ideas on how you can smash past your milestones.
How Should I Eat Greek Yoghurt?
It's all well and good knowing some Greek yoghurt benefits and the nutrients that go into it, but incorporating a new food into your diet can be quite stressful and challenging for some. Without proper recipes or guidance, it's easy to feel lost and overwhelmed in trying to come up ways with ways to eat Greek yoghurt.
But fear not, for we here at OriGym have created some ideas how you could incorporate Greek yoghurt into every meal of the day. We’ve already talked about one within the article, which was adding Greek yoghurt to a baked potato, but what about other recipes?
Yoghurt bowls are a great way to incorporate multiple of your favorite fruits, seeds and healthy nuts, into one tremendous health kick at the start of your day. Simply fill a bowl or container of your choice with your selected Greek yoghurt. Then add some toppings of your choice! We’d suggest any kind of fruit really, but it would also be great to incorporate some seeds too.
On special occasions, we would also recommend adding some dark chocolate into your yogurt bowl, as it contains far less calories than milk or white chocolate and will still provide you with that special feeling of treating yourself. Additionally, many other people choose to add honey into their yoghurt bowls, as some Greek yoghurt comes unsweetened and may be a little sour to those who don’t usually eat it.
Spicy Yoghurt Curry
Some people like to incorporate Greek yoghurt into their Curry to thicken up its consistency. Whether you’re making Tikka or Masala, adding Greek yoghurt will be a healthier alternative to thickening up the sauce than cream, and will still provide the same high quality taste.
Or, if you struggle with spice, adding Greek yogurt as a topping to curry will be a great addition to your plate, providing some cooling flavours should things get too hot!
If you love snacking on dips and crisps, why not put aside the shop-bought dip that is loaded with salt and unhealthy additives and instead make your own from scratch, using Greek yoghurt as a key ingredient.
Some recipes involve adding spinach, sweet date, tamarind chutney and pomegranate seeds, whilst other recipes could be as simple as blending beetroot and lime. Greek yoghurt can act as a canvas for other flavours and foods, meaning you can compound the health benefits of Greek yoghurt with some of the best herbs for weight loss, or spices like turmeric and ginger.
These are just a few quick suggestions of how you can incorporate Greek yoghurt into your diet. But you could also do so by spreading it on crackers or adding it to your pasta sauce. The possibilities are endless, and it all comes down to your personal preference!
Full Fat Vs Fat Free Greek Yoghurt
When we see the term full fat, many of us jump to negative conclusions believing it to be an unhealthy option, compared to its fat free counterpart. So is full fat Greek yoghurt good for you? The answer is yes, full fat Greek yoghurt can be just as good for you as the fat free version, the key to a healthy diet is all about finding the right balance.
Full fat dairy products are one of our bodies main sources of saturated fats. The type of fat that can cause heart disease, strokes, as well as other health related issues. For a long time, researchers have believed that the healthiest way to tackle this issue is to cut out full fat dairy products and instead choose the non-fat option.
However, if we take a more modern approach to the full fat vs fat free Greek yoghurt debate we can see that the answer is not so straight forward as what it was once thought to be.
Getting the right balance of healthy high fat foods, regular exercise, and plenty of water all forms part of a sustainable lifestyle.
In fact, new research has discovered that eating dairy products of any kind helps to lower the risks of disease and illness. The research hypothesised that eating 3 servings of dairy a day is good for the body’s development, muscle strength and your overall health.
Their findings supported this claim, as the results showed that dairy consumption three times a day was associated with lower risks of mortality ratings, compared to people who didn’t eat dairy, or those who didn’t eat enough dairy.
This research indicates that writing off full-fat dairy entirely is not as beneficial as you may think. We recommend trying to find the perfect balance between full fat and fat free dairy products, allowing your body to feel the benefit of each product, rather than depriving it of the beneficial properties of one or the other.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Any Other Benefits Of Eating Greek Yogurt Everyday?
Yes! Despite its sugar content, Greek yoghurt will not damage your teeth, but rather strengthen key elements of your teeth and gums.
Modern science has found that, even when the product contains fruit flavouring, it does not erode tooth enamel, which is the protective coating on your teeth.
The lactic acid found within Greek yogurt will also give your gums protection too!
Can You Be Allergic To Greek Yoghurt?
The answer is, unfortunately, yes.
People who are allergic to cow's milk will sadly be allergic to Greek yoghurt, too. If you suffer from any of these conditions after eating Greek yoghurt then we would recommend talking to your GP:
- Itchy/Tickly Throat
- Coughing and/or Wheezing
- Itchy Tongue
An anaphylaxis (often referred to as anaphylactic shock) reaction is far less common with dairy products, but it can still happen. We would always strongly recommend that you alert your GP should you feel that you suffer from this food intolerance.
Before You Go!
Whether you’ve read this article to seek dietary advice, or are just generally curious about these food products properties, we here at OriGym hope that you have found our exploration of Greek yoghurt's benefits to be informative and helpful.
Remember, whilst Greek yoghurt is a great and nutritious food product that can help you achieve many goals, it’s unfortunately not a “miracle” food, and should be incorporated into a balanced diet and healthy active lifestyle, in order for you to see the optimum effects!
Or if you feel as though you’re already living a healthy lifestyle, take that lifestyle to the next level, and qualify as a nutritionist.
OriGym’s advanced sports nutrition course provides everything you need to kickstart a successful career in nutrition, as well as helping you better understand dietary choices.
Download our FREE prospectus and learn more about what we offer, and how it could be ideal for you.
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- Heather J Leidy, Peter M Clifton, Arne Astrup, Thomas P Wycherley, Margriet S Westerterp-Plantenga, Natalie D Luscombe-Marsh, Stephen C Woods, Richard D Mattes (2015) The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
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- Mahshid Dehghan, Andrew Mente,Sumathy Rangarajan, Patrick Sheridan,Prof Viswanathan Mohan, Romaina Iqbal, et al. (2018) Association of dairy intake with cardiovascular disease and mortality in 21 countries from five continents (PURE): a prospective cohort study. The Lancet