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What Is the Difference between Yogurt versus Greek Yogurt?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated May 16, 2024
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By now, no one is surprised to hear that yogurt is good for the body. Not only does it provide a good dose of calcium, but most yogurts are stuffed full of protein and happy, friendly bacteria that help the intestines do their job. The most recent yogurt superstar on the scene is Greek yogurt, and it’s rapidly becoming a winner in the yogurt versus Greek yogurt debate. Greek yogurt has a thicker, more buttery texture than regular yogurt, packs an additional protein wallop, and leaves the diner more satisfied.

The reason for the substantially richer consistency lays in the fact that Greek yogurt is made with at least twice as much milk. This can mean an enormous protein difference in yogurt versus Greek yogurt. A single serving size of regular yogurt is no protein slouch, offering between four and ten grams of protein, but its Greek cousin beats it out of the gate with as much as 24 grams.

It’s important not the make the logical jump to thinking Greek yogurt must also contain two to three times more calcium than the thinner, American-style yogurts. Sadly, calcium actually gets lost in the translation. A single-serving container of Greek yogurt offers only 20% of the recommended daily amount to thinner yogurt’s 30%. This may not make sense on the surface, but the reason is because Greek yogurt is heavily strained.

In fact, straining explains a lot of the difference been yogurt versus Greek yogurt. As whey, lactose, and sugar are strained out of the Greek version, the resulting yogurt is both creamier and more flavorful. Also, because Greek yogurt loses about a third of the calcium, it also manages to dump about half the sugar content as well.

In the great yogurt versus Greek yogurt debate, however, there lies a cautionary tale. Some yogurt fans have conditioned themselves to reach for a whole-milk yogurt because the differences in flavor and mouth feel over the low-fat or fat-free versions are noticeable. With regular yogurt, this adds about four grams of fat, which many folks consider a fair trade-off. Full-fat Greek yogurt, however, can stop hearts with the 16 grams of saturated fat it hides.

Fortunately, one taste assures most yogurt eaters that even fat-free Greek yogurt is more flavorful, smoother, and creamier than full-fat American yogurt. It’s also a tad tangier, so many breakfast connoisseurs like to add some fresh raspberries, strawberries, or bananas. If a little more sweetening is necessary for a particular tongue, a few drops of honey will do the trick.

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Discussion Comments

By anon1007267 — On Jun 25, 2022

Natural fats are necessary and healthy for the human body. Do not fear natural saturated fats. It's polyunsarurated fats from processed seed oils that are driving the heart disease epidemic.

By SarahSon — On Jul 25, 2012

I eat yogurt in the evening to help me maintain my weight and keep from overeating. If I eat a bowl of yogurt, this satisfies my hunger and I am not so apt to overeat.

I like to take a scoop of Greek yogurt and fruit-flavored regular yogurt and mix them together. This way I get the advantages of both of them. I found the Greek yogurt to be too thick for my taste, but by mixing it with the thinner yogurt, it is perfect.

I also like to add a spoonful of granola and mix it in. This gives it a little bit of crunch and makes it feel more like a light meal than just a snack.

By Mykol — On Jul 25, 2012

Wow, I had no idea that Greek yogurt had so much saturated fat hidden in it. That goes to show that even with foods that are known to be good for you, you really need to be careful.

This might make me think twice before I eat more Greek yogurt. The extra protein and less sugar is appealing, but the saturated fat really made me stop and think.

What I enjoy about Greek yogurt is how much creamier and thicker it is. I like to stir in a little bit of honey which adds just the right amount of sweetness. When I eat this I feel like I am treating myself without feeling guilty.

I might look at this a little bit differently now, but I think it is still better than a lot of other foods I could be eating to satisfy my sweet tooth.

By honeybees — On Jul 24, 2012

@andee - I am beginning to see more choices for Greek yogurt all the time. At first it seemed like all they had was plain Greek yogurt. In the last few months I have seen some new fruit flavors.

I have always heard that the plain yogurt is better for you, maybe because it has less sugar, so plain Greek yogurt would probably be better for you too.

I have never been a big fan of the plain yogurt. I will usually buy plain Greek yogurt to add to a smoothie, but if I want to sit down and eat it, I like to have some kind of fruit added to it.

By andee — On Jul 24, 2012

I have seen a lot of Greek yogurt on the shelves at the supermarket lately, but have not tried it yet. I have also heard Dr. Oz talking about it on his show, and have wondered what the differences are between this and American yogurt.

One thing I have noticed with the Greek yogurt at the supermarket is there doesn't seem to be nearly as many flavor choices. I eat yogurt several times a week and never get tired of it because of all the different flavors there are to choose from.

I imagine as Greek yogurt contains to be popular, there will also be more and more choices of flavors to choose from.

By robbie21 — On Jul 24, 2012

Something to be aware of is that the fat-free nature of Greek yogurt means that it is not appropriate for babies and toddlers unless it has been specifically recommended by a pediatrician. The standard advice is that children under age two should never eat reduced fat dairy. They need fat for their brain development.

That's not the say that the occasional nibble of Mom's Greek yogurt is going to hurt baby, just that you should not make it a regular part of baby's diet. (Especially not if it's flavored, as young children should not eat a lot of foods with added sweetener.)

By Azuza — On Jul 23, 2012

I had no idea that the lactose was partially strained out of Greek yogurt. I guess that means it would be a good choice for someone who is a little bit sensitive to dairy, because it has less lactose than regular yogurt.

That being said, I'm a little disappointed that Greek yogurt contains less calcium than American yogurt. I eat Greek yogurt pretty frequently, and I've always felt like it was helping me get more calcium into my diet. I guess I should probably look into a supplement or something, because I doubt I'm getting enough calcium.

By sunnySkys — On Jul 23, 2012

@starrynight - I guess it depends on what part of your diet you're working on. If you're trying to increase your protein intake, then Greek yogurt is obviously better than American yogurt. But if you're really trying to cut back on the fat, it might not be the best choice.

Either way, I'm pretty sure that Greek yogurt contains a higher percentage of probiotics than American yogurt. Probiotics are the friendly bacteria discussed in the article, and they're awesome for stomach health, as well as preventing vaginal yeast infections. So if you're eating yogurt to get more probiotics, Greek yogurt is the way to go.

By starrynight — On Jul 22, 2012

I definitely prefer Greek yogurt over regular yogurt, for health reasons. I think it's much better for you. Even though it does contain more fat than regular yogurt, I think the benefits make up for it. I think the increased protein and lack of sugar are good.

I will say that it took me a little while to get used to eating Greek yogurt though. I was used to eating the more sugary American version. So at first Greek yogurt tasted a bit too tart to me, but I got used to it. As the article says, it does help to add some fruit or something too.

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