If you’ve been paying attention to the dairy case, you’ve noticed that it has expanded considerably in recent years. Alongside traditional blended and fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, Greek yogurt is taking up an ever-expanding share of the dairy section… and of the market. But what is Greek yogurt, and why is it so popular?
Traditional yogurt is made by fermenting milk with bacteria called yogurt cultures. These bacteria give yogurt its characteristic tart flavor and also give it some gastrointestinal benefits. During the fermentation process, liquid whey separates from the solid milk proteins and is strained away using cheesecloth. Traditional yogurt is strained twice, while Greek yogurt (also called strained yogurt) is strained three times. This extra straining gives Greek yogurt its thick consistency and extra protein: almost double that of traditional yogurt.
Strained yogurt has been a staple in the Middle East and Mediterranean for thousands of years, but it didn’t take off in the United States until the late 2000s when entrepreneur Hamdi Ulukaya founded Chobani in upstate New York. Chobani’s strained Greek yogurt soon became a staple in grocery stores, and by 2012, traditional yogurt brands like Dannon and Yoplait launched their own Greek lines. Now yogurt lovers can choose from among hundreds of Greek-style options, including full-fat, nonfat, low-fat, artificially sweetened, naturally sweetened, unsweetened, fruit-on-the bottom, blended, etc.
Chobani has added new products in recent years including a line that contains steel-cut oats—adding fiber and whole grains to an already healthy yogurt. They also have an indulgent line of dessert-style yogurts that include added toppings like chocolate sauce or white chocolate chips. Of course, it’s important to note that eating anything with chocolate sauce or other added sugars and fats can reduce the healthfulness of the food; this is as true for Greek yogurt as it is for anything else. It’s not a problem, however, as long as you avoid consuming excessive sugar on a regular basis.
Greek yogurt’s popularity has skyrocketed for a reason; the extra protein punch, the good gut bacteria, and the reduced carbohydrates all combine to make it a healthy addition to your breakfast, lunch, snack, or even dessert. Look for Greek yogurt in US Connect’s vending machines and Bistro To Go kiosks; it’s a Right Choice for a Healthier You™!