Which Is Healthier: Greek Yogurt or Regular Yogurt?

By: Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D.  |  Monday, March 17, 2014

Greek yogurt has surged in popularity in recent years, and with good reason. But is it healthier than regular yogurt? We compared nutritional values along with each environmental impact to help you make your choice.

Greek Vs. Regular: By the Numbers
Greek yogurt has surged in popularity in recent years, and with good reason. Straining out the extra whey in yogurt makes Greek yogurt thick, creamy and tangy. The plain variety has less sugar and more protein than typical yogurt. But regular yogurt delivers twice the bone-strengthening mineral calcium. Greek yogurt also tends to be more expensive than regular yogurt, because more milk goes into making each cup.
Pictured Recipe: Apple Oatmeal
Calories 133 137
Total fat (g) 0 0
Sodium (mg) 81 189
Total carb (g) 8 19
Sugars (g) 7 19
Protein (g) 23 14
Calcium (mg) (%DV) 248 (25%) 488 (49%)
Potassium (mg) (%DV) 317 (9%) 625 (18%)
Environmental Impact
There’s been chatter about the environmental impact of Greek yogurt’s byproduct, whey. When Greek yogurt is strained, the whey from the milk (also called “acid” whey because of its lower pH) is left over. The whey can be sold to farmers to add to livestock feed, and can also be used as fertilizer and even turned into electricity. But because Greek yogurt production has increased so rapidly in recent years, there’s been some concern that farms don’t have the capacity to handle all the extra whey produced. They can use some of the whey productively, but the large quantities produced are too much. More research is currently being done on more efficient and new ways to handle the byproduct.
Which to Choose:
Personally, I love Greek yogurt’s creamy taste. I say, go Greek! The high-protein yogurt makes a filling snack, while still being low-cal (there’s about 100 calories in a 6-ounce container of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt). It’s also great added to smoothies or mixed with fruit and whole-grain cereal for breakfast. Not to mention, plain Greek yogurt can be stealthily swapped for sour cream to save 78 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat (per ¼ cup) when making tacos, dips or baked potatoes.
The Bottom Line
Yogurt can be a healthy choice regardless of whether you choose Greek or regular. They both have protein, calcium and probiotics (good bacteria that help keep your gut healthy). Choose plain low-fat or nonfat yogurt. The flavored varieties add unnecessary sugar; some have 7 teaspoons of added sugar. Instead if you’re craving a little sweetness, use fresh fruit or a teaspoon or two of honey or maple syrup.