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What is Greek Yogurt and Why is it Good for Me?

Greek yogurt has powerful health benefits, yet it’s still a mystery to many people.

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Greek yogurt has powerful health benefits, yet it’s still a mystery to many people. If you’ve ever wondered: “What is greek yogurt and why is it healthy for me?” then check this out! Here’s a simple explanation of the benefits of greek yogurt and what you need to watch for when you’re eating healthy.

All yogurt starts with milk. The milk is separated into skim and cream. The fat content of the yogurt you’ll be eating is determined by how much cream is removed.

Probiotics (good bacteria) are added to the skimmed milk and fermentation begins. That means the liquid is evaporating, milk is thickening and it takes on a “tangy” taste.

The milk needs a little help to get to just the right consistency. At this stage either milk powder (milk that’s been dried and concentrated) or other stabilizers such gelatins (often made with animal by-products), gum, pectin, or starch is added to commercially sold traditional yogurt.

Now the thick milk is ready to be heated. High heat (pasteurization) kills the bad bacteria. Voila - yogurt is born! The yogurt goes through a simple straining process that rids the yogurt of even more excess liquid. Regular yogurt is strained twice; greek yogurt is strained a third time, making it thicker with more protein, less sugar, and fewer carbohydrates.

In this stage of the process, flavor or sweeteners could be added. There’s a wide range of ingredients used to make yogurt tastier. This is where a careful reading of the label helps you make a healthier choice when selecting among the brands. When it comes to ingredients, less is better.

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Yogurt is regulated by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), but there are no rules about what can be classified as “Greek” yogurt. A manufacturer can skip the additional steps authentic greek yogurt requires, add other thickeners, and still call it greek yogurt. That’s a problem. When you’re reading the label, check to be sure that the main ingredients in your greek yogurt is always milk and live active cultures.

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Susan Diamond
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