GREEK YOGURT: The Greek yogurt market is huge these days. Basically, Greek yogurt is yogurt that's been strained more than regular yogurt so that it is thicker. It tends to have considerably more protein than regular yogurt, making it more satiating, and it tends to have far less calcium and sodium than regular yogurt. Calories are more or less the same between the two. It's also usually a looot more expensive than regular yogurt, since the companies are cashing in on its popularity. Those are the main differences between the two kinds of yogurt, so if you're looking to Greek yogurt as a magical weight loss health food, you may be a bit disillusioned.
My dislike of dairy products as part of the human diet is no secret, but I also get that people are going to eat them. So here's the skinny:
- Know that Greek yogurt is not a weight loss tool. It has the same number of calories as regular yogurt, and so in that department, it really will not make much difference.
- Ideally, try to find a Greek yogurt that is organic/hormone free. This is really important for pretty much anything you eat, but for animal products in particular. They tend to be full of antibiotics, hormones, and all kinds of other junk you really do not want in your body. Stonyfield Farms and Wallaby are two companies I can think of off the top of my head that make organic Greek yogurt, but both put large amounts of sugar in their Greek yogurts. This is a conundrum, indeed.
- Read your labels. Recently, I checked out a label for a client eating "Dannon Light '& Fit Greek Yogurt." First of all, as soon as you see something that says "fat free," assume they're replacing the taste of fat with the taste of sugar. So here's one flavor (blueberry). And yep, it's got 7g of sugar added to it (looks like they used fructose as the source). That's a lot of added sugar for such a low calorie food. In addition, it's got a bunch of chemicals for more sweetness (sucralose, acesulfame potassium). There is one very controversial study linking sucralose to leukemia ( Soffritti M, Belpoggi F, Esposti DD, Lambertini L. Aspartame induces lymphomas and leukaemias in rats. European Journal of Oncology 2005; 10(2):107–116 ), but for the most part, there is no scientific evidence that artificial sweeteners, as much as I'd love to hate them, cause disease. That having been said, there are enough people claiming side effects from artificial sweetener consumption that I'd be cautious of their use.
- The coloring used in this particular yogurt is a red coloring called carmine, which is, in fact, ground beetles. This in and of itself is not going to hurt you, but my guess is you'd want to know if you were consuming them. So there you have it.
- Bottom line: if you're going to eat Greek yogurt, ideally get it organic, and go for the ones with no added sugars and minimal ingredients. Chances are, you're going to have to pick one or the other. Better yet, make your own, and know EXACTLY what is going into your yogurt. You can also make your own coconut yogurt, and forgo the dairy stuff altogether (which is definitely a better idea, IMHO).
- Bottom line: Read your labels and avoid ingredients you don't recognize. Buy a (preferably organic) no sugar added brand, such as Mona's, Sensato, etc. Or (and you knew I was going to say this), make your own.
- Bottom line: Make your day MOSTLY VEGETABLES, particularly the green ones. Everything else should be secondary. You can wrap sandwiches in collard greens or romaine lettuce instead of bread (it's actually really good!). You can switch out your breakfast cereal for something like a really healthy protein shake, or maybe some of that coconut yogurt mentioned above with some fruit. Maybe have a banana or apple and a tablespoon or two of raw nut butter or a handful of nuts. And so on. Be creative. You might find you enjoy your meals more this way, and that they fill you up more!
- Bottom line: Guess what I'm going to say. Yeah, read your ingredients. Know what you're eating. Or, of course, make your own.
Bottom line: Stick as close as you can to what Mother Nature created. Eat mostly vegetables. Try to keep grains to one meal a day, and make them very high-quality grains. Don't fall for buzzwords.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Anything to add? Post away! :)