Yogurt is a dairy product produced by fermentation of milk that has been heated to high temperatures to create the desired texture. Greek yogurt, also known as "strained" yogurt, is made by allowing the liquid whey (water, lactose, and some protein and minerals) to drain out of the yogurt, resulting in a thicker yogurt and a more tart tasting yogurt. Greek yogurt contains a higher percentage of protein than unstrained yogurt simply because of the removal of a portion of the water. The most popular Greek yogurts have about 15 -18 grams of protein per serving. Greek yogurt is currently the largest growing sector in the dairy industry. Its production has nearly quadrupled in the last few years, and sales are up approximately 75 percent in just one year.
Greek yogurt is now often used as a substitute for mayonnaise and sour cream. It also makes a great snack. Douglas et al. (2013) assessed whether an afternoon snack of high protein Greek yogurt could help with appetite control. In their study, snacking, regardless of protein content, led to reduced hunger and increased fullness among the participants. An afternoon snack of Greek yogurt, containing 24g protein, led to the greatest reduced hunger, increased fullness, and delayed subsequent eating compared to lower protein snacks in healthy women.
But there is more to love about Greek yogurt than its protein content. Greek traditional yogurts are also an excellent source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is an essential fatty acid that is important for good health. CLA is an antioxidant and is suspected to have cancer fighting properties. According to the Journal of Food Chemistry (2012), many studies with conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) indicate it has a protective effect against mammary cancer.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D., is a freelance health writer and the C.E.O. of Tracy’s Smoothie Place. She serves as the expert on a weekly radio show about health and wellness and is the author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux and multiple articles about the cost of caregiving. Learn more about Tracy and what healthy living services and products she can offer on her website. She can also be found on Twitter and Instagram @drinksmoothies.