Yogurt is a fermented dairy product that’s popular worldwide.
In recent years, a specific type called Greek yogurt has taken off among health enthusiasts.
Both Greek and regular yogurt are packed with high quality nutrients and offer multiple health benefits, but you may wonder what sets them apart.
This article explains the differences between Greek and regular yogurt to help you determine which to choose.
Regular and Greek yogurt are cultured (or fermented) dairy products, along with sour cream, buttermilk, and kefir.
In fact, both regular and Greek yogurt are made with the same main ingredients — fresh milk, plus Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus as starter cultures (2).
Yet, their taste and nutrients differ due to how they’re made.
The final product has a smooth consistency but may vary in thickness. Most yogurts are either drinkable or can be eaten with a spoon.
Due to its acidic nature, plain yogurt may taste slightly sour. Still, it’s generally sweeter than Greek yogurt.
Greek yogurt, also known as concentrated or strained yogurt, is made by eliminating the whey and other liquids from regular yogurt (
Because the straining process reduces the total volume, Greek yogurt takes significantly more milk than regular yogurt to make a batch of the same size.
Traditionally, the yogurt is strained in cloth bags up to three times until it reaches the desired texture. Modern production methods use centrifuges to achieve the same effect.
Some companies may use thickening agents or other dry ingredients, in which case the final product is referred to as fortified or Greek-style yogurt (
Because most of the liquid is removed, Greek yogurt is much thicker and tangier than regular yogurt. It’s also generally more expensive since it requires more milk.
Regular and Greek yogurt are both fermented dairy products, but Greek yogurt is strained to make it much thicker and tangier than regular yogurt.
|Regular yogurt (low fat)||Greek yogurt (low fat)|
|Carbs||17 grams||10 grams|
|Sugar||17 grams||9 grams|
|Protein||13 grams||24 grams|
|Fat||4 grams||5 grams|
|Calcium||34% of the Daily Value (DV)||22% of the DV|
|Sodium||7% of the DV||4% of the DV|
Both yogurts are also an excellent source of magnesium, vitamin B12, and iodine (
As you can see, Greek yogurt contains about half the carbs and sugar as regular yogurt while packing almost twice as much protein. It also has less calcium and sodium.
These differences are a result of the yogurt’s straining process.
On the one hand, eliminating the whey from Greek yogurt removes some of its lactose, reducing its overall carb and sugar content. On the other hand, protein remains intact throughout the straining process, so Greek yogurt’s density provides much more protein.
Keep in mind that the comparison above is based on low fat versions of both products. Those made with whole milk provide much more fat and calories.
For example, the same serving of regular yogurt made with whole milk provides 8 grams of fat, while the same serving of whole milk Greek yogurt packs 12.25 grams — doubling and nearly tripling their fat contents, respectively (
Greek yogurt packs twice as much protein and about half the amount of carbs and sugar as regular yogurt.
Greek and regular yogurt share numerous health benefits due to their probiotics and protein.
Rich in probiotics
Suitable for people with lactose intolerance
People with lactose intolerance usually experience uncomfortable digestive symptoms, including bloating and diarrhea, if they eat dairy products.
Moreover, Greek yogurt’s naturally lower lactose content may make it especially suitable for people with this condition.
May protect heart health
Yogurt may improve heart disease risk factors, including high blood pressure and cholesterol.
Fermented dairy intake is associated with a lower risk of plaque buildup and artery stiffness, which are linked to high blood pressure (
A study in 73,882 adults with high blood pressure determined that eating 2 or more servings of yogurt per week were associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke in men and 17% in women, compared with those who ate less than 1 serving per month (
Similarly, in a study in 1,981 healthy men, those with higher intakes of fermented dairy products had a 27% lower risk of heart disease than those with lower intakes. The study also found that non-fermented dairy was associated with a greater risk (
A study in 60 people with type 2 diabetes showed that a daily intake of 10.5 ounces (300 grams) of yogurt with probiotics caused a 4.5% and 7.5% decrease in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, respectively, compared with a control group (
May aid weight loss
Research links yogurt to less body weight, body fat, and weight gain (
Its probiotics boost the proportion of healthy bacteria in your gut, which may contribute to weight management, fat distribution, and sugar and fat metabolism (
What’s more, both regular and Greek yogurt are excellent sources of protein.
For example, one small study in 15 healthy women determined that a Greek yogurt snack containing 24 grams of protein reduced hunger and delayed the timing of the subsequent meal, compared with a low protein snack (
Both regular and Greek yogurt may aid digestion, heart health, and weight loss.
Regular and Greek yogurt are particularly versatile. While both can be enjoyed alone or mixed with fruit, nuts, or granola, they’re used differently in recipes.
For instance, due to its thickness, Greek yogurt is a common ingredient in dips and sauces like tzatziki, which is a staple in Greek cuisine.
Additionally, you can use it to replace mayonnaise, sour cream, and buttermilk in most recipes, though it may curdle at high temperatures. Its texture also makes it great for baking, especially if you want a moist, dense texture.
In contrast, regular yogurt is commonly used in smoothies (Greek yogurt is still a good option too), dressings, and other viscous dishes. For example, you can make a scrumptious marinade for chicken by mixing it with lemon juice and spices.
When cooking, Greek yogurt is best for dips, sauces, and baked goods, while regular yogurt is preferable for smoothies, dressings, and marinades.
Regular and Greek yogurt are both nutrient-dense foods that make an excellent snack and healthy addition to your diet.
Nevertheless, sweetened yogurts of either variety are packed with added sugar. Chronic high sugar intake may lead to unwanted weight gain, as well as cavities, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (
As such, it’s best to choose plain yogurts to moderate your intake of added sugar. If you prefer, you can add a drizzle of honey or a bit of fruit to sweeten it on your own.
If you’re looking to boost your protein intake, Greek yogurt is ideal. Regular, low fat yogurt may be best for anyone looking to keep their calorie and protein intake in check.
As both are healthy, you should choose the one that fits your dietary needs.
Both regular and Greek yogurt are highly nutritious, though you should be mindful of added sugars. It’s best to buy a plain variety of whichever kind you prefer, then sweeten it on your own if you desire.
Regular and Greek yogurt are made from the same ingredients but differ in nutrients. While regular yogurt tends to have fewer calories and more calcium, Greek yogurt has more protein and less sugar — and a much thicker consistency.
Both types pack probiotics and support digestion, weight loss, and heart health.
Given that each is healthy, you should simply choose whichever type you prefer — though it’s best to avoid products with lots of added sugar.