Monday, August 26, 2013
Greek Yogurt: Fact or Fad?
It was all Greek to me. I felt suddenly overwhelmed by ads for Greek yogurt, recipes for Greek yogurt, and the store shelves started filling up with Greek yogurt. News reports said that sales of Greek yogurt had skyrocketed, increasing from 1% of the market in 2007 to 35% this year. This had all the earmarks of a fad and required some research.
I did a little research on the Internet and some in the grocery store. The Internet told me that it is smoother and creamier, that it has more protein and carbs, but also more fat. Sugar is lower, but there is not as much calcium, which is one factor that women with worries of osteoporosis find important when considering adding yogurt to their diets.
Their conclusion: “Though most experts agree that Greek yogurt has a nutritional edge, both kinds help you lose weight by keeping you full on fewer calories.”
Personal research drew slightly different conclusions. The brand name Greek yogurt was smoother and creamier, a little more like a dessert. The label corresponded to the facts in the Internet article with the exception of fat and sugar. The fat in this brand was zero (not higher than regular yogurt), but the amount sugar was much higher. At 19 grams, it was three times as high as shown in the on-line example and higher than both the regular yogurt on line and the one I bought. Protein was a little lower than the Internet example, but still more than regular yogurt.
The big eye-opener was the price. The Greek yogurt was on sale, but still cost twice as much as the store brand light yogurt at the regular price. Although the Greek yogurt container looked bigger, it contained less than 90% as much yogurt.
My conclusion is that the Greek yogurt craze is mostly based on good advertising and a preference for the creamier taste rather than the nutritional differences. I can see some benefits to vegetarians looking for an alternative source of protein, but for the rest of us, why pay more than twice as much for a substitute that is not substantially different? Can you really afford to splurge on this item rather than on something else?
Another conclusion is to read the labels. The government requires companies to provide us with good information. Don’t assume that all Greek yogurts, or anything else with the same name, has the same ingredients and nutritional value. You can be surprised.