The dairy aisle can be overwhelming – not only are there many choices when it comes to fluid milk, there are now a myriad of options in yogurt as well. Do you choose plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, Icelandic yogurt, Australian-style yogurt, flavored yogurt, drinkable yogurt, or kefir? The options are endless.
At its very basic definition, yogurt is a mixture of milk and cream, fermented by a culture of lactic acid-producing bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus – these cultures produce the familiar sour flavor of yogurt. Yogurt, like many other dairy foods, delivers a powerhouse of nutrients. The nutrients vary across brands and styles of preparation, but most yogurt varieties are a good or excellent source of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, zinc and high-quality protein.
Greek-style yogurt is often defined by its thick and creamy texture, created by straining or separating milk solids from liquid whey. Because of this process, Greek-style yogurt is higher in protein (often double the protein of regular yogurt), though slightly lower in calcium. You can use Greek yogurt in place of other high-fat ingredients, such as oil or mayo, in cooking and baking. You can also use it as a substitute for sour cream, just as you’d put a dollop on Mexican food or in your chili.
Icelandic Yogurt (or Skyr, such as Siggi’s) is similar to Greek-style yogurt in that it is strained. However, choice in bacterial culture and straining technique differentiate the two. Skyr is often described as having a milder flavor than Greek-style yogurt.
Australian Yogurt (such as Noosa) is not strained like Greek-style or Icelandic yogurts. Instead, it is typically made with whole milk, giving it a thicker, creamier texture than traditional yogurts.
Kefir (pronounced kuh-fear) is a fermented milk drink, similar to drinkable yogurt. Its taste is more sour than yogurt – often being described as a cross between cultured buttermilk and yogurt. Yogurt, in addition to kefir, are considered sources of probiotics because of the standard bacteria used to make them, which help digest lactose (milk sugar). This means nutrient-rich foods such as yogurt and kefir are a great way to enjoy these healthy bacteria. Additionally, yogurt is a good option for those with lactose intolerance. It’s all thanks to yogurt’s live and active cultures, which help digest lactose.
Regardless of the choice you make, you can feel confident knowing that yogurt is a delicious and nutritious option. Interested in learning more about how yogurt is made? Want to make your own homemade yogurt. Visit WesternDairyAssociation.org for more information.
*All information associated with the Western Dairy Association “Nutriton Corner” is sponsored by Western Dairy Association as a partnership with University of Denver Athletics & Recreation, and not provided by trainers or staff of the Coors Fitness Center.