October 5, 2014

Is Greek Yogurt Healthier Than Regular Yogurt?

If you are comparing the sugar content in Greek yogurt to regular yogurt, you are likely not making a better choice.

Greek yogurt has really gained in popularity in the past few years. What makes Greek yogurt, Greek yogurt, is that it has been strained to remove some of the whey and lactose, the milk sugar, and when this happens, the end product contains slightly more protein and slightly less naturally present milk sugar. Many are touting this as the healthier option – so, is it?

Yogurt IS a healthy food, IF you choose full fat, organic and plain. Since most people don’t eat plain yogurt, many people are choosing Greek over regular cow yogurt, thinking that they are consuming less added sugars, when in reality, they are not.

I am going to compare Greek yogurt and regular yogurt and explain how to correctly read the label as it pertains to sugar. Yes, organic matters, but sugar is really the important component here that we want to address, because the Greek Yogurt and regular cow yogurt are not an apples to apples comparison, when it comes to sugar.

Calculating sugar from a label can be tricky because the government doesn’t require labels to differentiate between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars. So, how do you make the right choice when it comes to yogurt?

Let’s start with the Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt has 9 grams of sugar per 8 oz that are naturally present. This is lactose, the sugar found in milk. This is naturally present sugar and not added sugar. So, when you look at the label of Greek yogurt, you now know that 9 grams of sugar is naturally present, per 8 oz serving.

For our example today, let’s look at two Greek yogurts: Chobani and Oikos

Yogurt One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both of these yogurts are low fat and they are both berry flavor, to make a good comparison.

The Chobani yogurt has 15 grams of sugar listed on the label per the container size of 5.3 oz. I know that there are 9 grams of sugar that are naturally present in 8 oz of Greek yogurt. So, I need to do a quick calculation to determine that there are 6 grams of sugar that are naturally present in 5.3 oz of Greek yogurt.

There are 15 grams of sugar listed on the Chobani label, so I know that 6 grams are naturally present and that 9 grams of sugar are added sugars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I know that there are 4 grams of sugar per teaspoon of sugar. I can now determine how many added teaspoons of sugar are present. I divide 9 grams by 4 = 2.25 teaspoons of added sugar in the Chobani yogurt

Yogurt Sixteen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is this insignificant? NO! If you ate one Chobani yogurt each day, you would consume 821 teaspoons of sugar, which is the equivalent of 8 1/2 pounds of sugar each year.

Now let’s look at Oikos: Oikos lists 19 grams of sugar per the 5.3 oz container. From the earlier calculation, I know that there are 6 grams of sugar naturally present in 5.3 oz container of Greek yogurt, so there are 13 grams of added sugar in this Oikos yogurt, which is equivalent to 3.25 teaspoons of sugar. So there is one more teaspoon of sugar in the Oikos yogurt.

Yogurt Fifteen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you ate one Oikos yogurt each day, you would consume 1,186 teaspoons of sugar each year, which is the equivalent of 12 1/3 pounds of sugar each year

Look at the difference just ONE teaspoon makes each day. It means that you will consume an additional 4 pounds of sugar in a year.

When you are at the store comparing the sugar listed on the label of a Greek yogurt and a regular yogurt, you are not comparing apples to apples. You are comparing apples to oranges, because these two types of yogurt do not have the same amount of naturally present sugar to start with.

Again, Greek yogurt has 9 grams of naturally present sugar per 8 oz serving and regular yogurt has 12 grams of sugar per 8 oz serving. Say each yogurt has 2 teaspoons of added sugars. That would mean that you would see 17 grams of sugar on an 8 oz serving of Greek yogurt and 20 grams of sugar on the label of an 8 oz serving of regular yogurt.

Yogurt final chart without red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two yogurts have the exact same amount of added sugar and yet, you would likely choose the Greek yogurt over the regular yogurt and yet, either choice would result in you consuming 7.6 pounds of added sugar in a year.

yogurt final comparison with red bubble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choose plain, full fat organic Greek or regular cow yogurt. Sweeten this with berries and IF you need a little additional sweetener, try adding ½ teaspoon of honey or real maple syrup. Yes, this is still sugar, but I would rather control how much sugar I am getting on a regular basis.

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Comments

from 43 people

*the Island of ikaria. Sorry was using voice dictation Haha!

Steve Hass | June 30, 2016

Very informative, however you should begin with what is Greek yogurt . American companies such as Oikos , are not about yogurt, they're about business . In America it's completely legal to call things with they are not . To add, you are comparing yogurts that come with fruit compote and preservatives . This is not what Greeks eat , this is not Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is made with sheep's milk and it comes from Greece . It's a super food, and people who eat this yogurt daily on the island of the car you live well into their hundreds . The most authentic cow milk's pasteurized version I have found is from a company called FAGE. Its pretty close, No added sugar, no preservatives. but it's still not real Greek yogurt .

Steve Hass | June 30, 2016

I have chosen my side....

You are a yogurt troll for sure. It is people like you that make the internet a place for misinformation.

People, just moderate what you eat. Don't eat a boat load of sugar. Don't eat a boat load of fat. Don't eat a boat. Just balance and moderate.

If you are eating so much greek yogurt that the sugar is hurting you then you are eating too much of it.

Jacob | June 29, 2016

when you strain the yogurt to make GREEK yogurt you strain the Lactoferrin, the key ingredient that helps you lose weight. So now you have to take it in tablet form to replenish the very key ingredient that helps you loose weight. It does not make any sense. When I eat greek yogurt I gain weight as opposed to when I dat regular yogurt. Why? because the Lactoferrin has not been drained out.
Article from First for Women 3/14/16, under the heading It's So Easy! Page 32.

Michelle Zafiri | June 6, 2016

Angelia,
I suffer from diabetes type 2. To me all sugar is bad so your below answer is what I had been looking for, thanks.

I make my own full fat cow milk yogurt. I use a small cooler as a water bath. I had pretty much figured it out and was doing 20 hours in the water bath then strain it to make Greek style. Love that tangy taste of lactic acid.
----
Hi Steve, Studies show that all lactose is used up at the 22 hour mark, when cultured at 100 degrees for 22 hours. I recommend 24 hours, to be sure, but not going over this. You will start to lose some of the active cultures if you culture it too long.

Personally, I have a hard time getting my oven light to heat at a constant 100. I culture at 70-75 degrees for 24 hours and I do not react to the lactose in the product.

Warmly,
Angela


Angela | April 10, 2015

LineCreek | May 11, 2016

This is for whomever Builthebones is. What a fool you are. This is Angela's web page, you moron, how can she be a yogurt troll, you moron? Additionally learn how to check your words before you send them, your grammar is on par with a 6th grader, do so if you expect anyone to take whatever it is you say seriously, however your post is so ignorant I doubt good grammar would help you at all.

flyercrazy | March 26, 2016

I don't care I'm just going to eat yogurt anyways as I love it!
I'm not overweight! Eat more more more ! Lol

Vick | February 10, 2016

I happen to eat full plain Greek yogurt topped with berries and sliced almonds. Since my family and I have given up on added sugar products this has become our dessert. If I want things a little sweeter, I simply add half a banana to my parfait. It is just delicious. I also use Greek yogurt as for our homemade Ice cream pop for my kids (they still need a treat).

Christy | October 15, 2015

Angela

Hi Niki,

Yes, this is fine! I am comparing the sweetened versions..

Angela

Angela | November 7, 2015

um.. is the 'plain non-fat milk chobani greek yogurt' healthy?

niki | September 28, 2015

Angela

I agree with you Andre - yet, most people get the sweetened, zero fat versions. These are the best sellers. I like full fat Greek yogurt.

Warmly
Angela

Angela | July 23, 2016

Your comparison is flawed as you are not comparing plain greek yoghurt but you are using a mixed light products with added sugars to compare and then state your conclusion for ALL greek yoghurt.

Using plain greek yoghurt its 9 grams of sugars present per 8 oz, which is the same as a mild Yoghurt. A full yoghurt has only 7 grams present per 8 oz.

Why isn't the full yoghurt considered healthier than, with less sugar?
Well my dear, Dr. Watson, it's because the full yoghurt contains 4 grams of saturated fat, where the greek yoghurt contains only 0.2 grams. You should not focus on sugar alone to consider something healthy or not.

Andre H | September 23, 2015

Angela

Yes, this is fine. I also like full fat Greek yogurt. I simply want people to be mindful of the sugars.
Warmly
Angela

Angela | July 23, 2016

Angela great article!

I eat Chobani 0% fat plain Greek Yogurt, 6g sugar. That's pretty good right? I had no Idea that regular non fat greek yogurt contains naturally occurring sugar. Thats even better right? No added sugars.

I usually combine blueberries, banana and....some cinnamon.

TheHealthyGuy | September 10, 2015

Hi Angela! I loved this article so thanks for posting it! I am always watching my sugar intake very carefully because diabetes runs in my family and so far I'm the only one who doesn't have it (thank God!). I was always worried about the sugar content in my plain, organic, unsweetened yogurt and eventually stopped eating it for a while just to be safe, but because of your info here I can enjoy one of my favorite snacks again!! I usually buy fresh organic berries ( strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) or cut up a fresh peach from the tree outside and add it to my plain yogurt! I usually add a few drops of stevia to the yogurt to sweeten it ever so slightly and it is delicious!! Sometimes I'll put some homemade gluten-free (low sugar) granola and chopped almonds that have been soaked overnight and then it's just heavenly and the kids love it!! In the winter when good fresh fruit is unavailable I'll buy frozen organic berries and defrost them mixed with a tiny bit of stevia and keep them covered in the fridge ready to go so the kids can just come home after school and make their own fruity yogurt! They love it and have a real knowledge of sugar content and reading food labels! I have been rigorous about teaching them this because of our family history of health issues. Thanks again for a wonderful post and I look forward to exploring your blog further! (I'm a newbie!)

Catherine Hastings | August 19, 2015

Angela

Hi DrDJ,

I KNOW! :) Thank you seeing that. Yogurt cultured for 22 hours uses up all the lactose. We call it '24 hour yogurt' to round off the numbers. I wouldn't let this culture longer than that. The cfu will start to decrease the longer you culture past 24 hours.

Warmly

Angela

Angela | July 23, 2016

Hi Angela,

Thanks for the information on the amount of sugar in plain Greek yogurt. From what I have read it is too bad that so many people are missing the point of your discussion. I do not think you are a yogurt troll.

I am wondering; I culture my own yogurt and if I let it incubate longer will that reduce the amount of sugar in my 8 ounce serving?

DrDj | August 11, 2015

Angela

Hi Dan,

It is very similar to the Greek yogurt. If plain (and I do prefer full fat) then it is lovely. I would simply be wary of the ones with sugar added to them.

Warmly

Angela

Angela | July 23, 2016

Hi Angela

What are your thoughts on Skyr yoghurt? This is high protein low fat and something I enjoy eating. How bad is this would you say?

Dan | August 11, 2015

Angela,

Yogurt troll, that's a good one. Crazy how easily some can take things out of context! Anyway, I wanted to comment that I searched "is greek yogurt bad" because I have also noticed excess sugar in greek yogurt and was led to this article. While I very much enjoy greek yogurt and have read about the probiotic benefits, I like to know counter arguments behind a subject before blindly assuming, "greek yogurt is good, period." The low fat greek yogurt definitely contains excess sugar, which I became aware of through religiously counting calories and macros when dieting (I bodybuild as a hobby). The table you made showing how much extra sugar one could consume in a year from eating the added sugar really put things in perspective for me. This is a very important thing for anyone who is truly interested in their health to consider. I will be eating full fat, plain (organic too if I can find it) from now on! Thank you for this article.

Jess | August 5, 2015

Angela

Yogurt troll?? Wow - that's a new one. I recommend yogurt. I actually teach people how to make their own yogurt and include fermentable foods in their diet. It is incredibly important! What my video points out is that - when comparing Greek yogurt that is sweetened to regular cow yogurt that is sweetened, it is not healthier. There is a very similar load of added sugars in these two products. Thanks for watching the video!

Angela | July 31, 2015

There's a reason you have only received 13 comments. Your the only yogurt troll on the internet. If you a scientist about yogurt why have you failed to list the probiotic content, metabolism rates, why it's the better option over other let's say, sour cream.... I'm not going to go in to much detail but your only arguement is sugar... I also happen to know a lady here in eagle rock that turned 106 last week. She continues to eat yogurt daily. Also I know of pet nutritionist who throw yogurt into dry dog food for animals to keep their digestive tracks functioning at a much older age. Not everything is about sugar content. Yogurt is a power source for calcium which is key for bodybuilders post workout. Or even preworkout for the carbs. Look at studies regarding people who ate yogurt as a snack and those who didn't in a trial, those who ate yogurt still lost and average of 6% body fat with those that ate nothing at all. Coincedence? Quit trolling.

Buildthebones | July 31, 2015

Angela

Hi Sam,

What I am stating in the video is that there is a baseline of naturally present sugar (lactose) in each product. Then, there is added sugar. The Greek Yogurt companies are not simply adding fresh blueberries to their plain yogurt. They are adding a sugar concentrate with a hint of blueberries. If you want to use plain Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries at home, this is the healthiest choice! Then you won't be consuming added sugars. There is no sugar added to plain yogurt. The sugar present is naturally present (again, lactose).

Thanks for watching!

Angela | July 31, 2015

Angela,

This is great, but I'm confused about your analysis. You say, "Greek yogurt has 9 grams of sugar per 8 oz that are naturally present. This is lactose, the sugar found in milk." However, you are looking at the sugar content from the labels of blueberry yogurts, not plain yogurts. Blueberries have a significant amount of *naturally occurring* sugar (in the form of fructose), but you are not accounting for that. It's a bit misleading to include the naturally occurring sugar from the berries in your assessment of how much sugar has been ADDED.

I believe it would be much more instructive if you could look at the sugar content on the label of plain yogurts and show how much of that is added. Either that, or try to determine how much of the sugar is contributed by the naturally occurring sugar in the berries -- but I think that's probably impossible to determine, as you probably can't find out how many grams of berries there are in the yogurt.

Regards,
Sam

Sam | July 30, 2015

Angela

Hi Tony,

Plain Fage yogurt is a healthy choice (there are no added sugars in this -only naturally present lactose. I really like making my own with raw full fat milk, or I use Organic Valley full fat grass fed milk.

Angela

Angela | July 31, 2015

I eat "Fage" plain yougurt, the O, 2.0, and total fat all have the same 9 grams of sugar per cup, I usually eat no more than a 1/2 cup with fresh blueberries and strawberries. I'm addicted to this stuff and I'm always worried about the sugar content. should I be?

Tony O | July 21, 2015

Angela

Hi Marie,

I just answered a similar post - so I am copying it here:

What I am stating in the video is that there is a baseline of naturally present sugar (lactose) in each product. Then, there is added sugar. The Greek Yogurt companies are not simply adding fresh blueberries to their plain yogurt. They are adding a sugar concentrate with a hint of blueberries. If you want to use plain Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries at home, this is the healthiest choice! Then you won’t be consuming added sugars. There is no sugar added to plain yogurt. The sugar present is naturally present (again, lactose).

Thanks for watching!

Angela | July 31, 2015

Angela,
When you calculated the sugar content, you failed to recognize the sugar, fructose, naturally found in blueberries, which were added to both yogurts. I am not sure if your article accurately represents the added sugar content because of this.
Thanks!

Marie | July 12, 2015

Angela

Hi Elizabeth, I don't recommend any products that list 'fit' or 'light' on them. I recommend full fat plain and add your own fruit to it. It is the best choice for a snack.

Angela

Angela | July 31, 2015

So I usually buy Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Greek yogurt. In the label says it only has 7gr of sugar. I suppose this is a good option then?

Elizabeth | July 3, 2015

Angela

Hi MaryAnn,

I am making the comparison between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt when they have sugar added. Nonfat Greek yogurt is fine - as is full fat plain yogurt (which I prefer).

Warmly,
Angela

Angela | June 25, 2015

Angela you did not compare the sugar content in o fat greek yogurt to any other. I eat 0 fat plain and add a few fresh blueberries no sweetener. Is this bad for you. That is what I am hearing. I am so confused now. Trying to lose weight with no or very low sodium and no sugars. HELP...

MaryAnn | June 25, 2015

Angela

I always recommend full fat plain, unsweetened - I prefer that we get plenty of healthy fats. The next best would be plain, unsweetened.

My point with the article is really that when comparing fruit containing Greek versus regular cow yogurt, that you can't compare these sugar for sugar.

I truly believe that that nonfat plain Greek yogurts that are coming out with more and more protein in them, are being manufactured with added powdered milk protein.

I would pull all added sugars and then use honey or maple syrup to sweeten something up - you can then control how much is added. This is so important!!

Warmly,
Angela

Angela | June 12, 2015

I had no idea how much sugar was naturally present in greek yogurt, so thank you for this understanding.

[i mix half a 5.3 oz chobani (coconut blended flavor, which comes to 6.5 grams of sugar, half the 13 grams of the container) with 2 oz of chobani plain (which has 6 grams per cup, which comes to 1.5 grams of sugar per my 2 oz).

So apparently, in my smoothie I'm getting 8 grams of sugar per about 11 grams of protein which isn't too bad, right? also, the yogurt i am simply using for taste and general health - not as my primary protein for the smoothies, which is what i use protein powder for.

I'm not into avoiding all sugar (a la orthorexia) but i do desire to keep my protein/fat higher than my sugar - for balance. And like you, I would much rather add my own sweet than for to it be thrown on me.

PS. If my plain fat free chobani has only 6 grams of sugar per cup (8 oz) what rule is it breaking - or bending, LOL - that it is not your claimed 9 grams of naturally present sugar? I am so curious!

PSS. One more thing: In your opinion, *should* I be buying the full fat plain over the 0%? If so, why? (It is not sold at my favorite grocer so the reason would have to be compelling for me to go hunting for it.)

Samsara | June 9, 2015

Angela

I don't recommend a particular food to 'shred' fat - I would look more at focusing on protein, healthy fat and vegetables and greatly cutting grains. Keep a low amount of starches.
Warmly,
Angela

Angela | June 12, 2015

Great information. I believe this is why I could't get rid of the little bit of fat on my stomach. In order to shred fat, what foods do you recommend?

William | June 1, 2015

Angela

Hi Steve, Studies show that all lactose is used up at the 22 hour mark, when cultured at 100 degrees for 22 hours. I recommend 24 hours, to be sure, but not going over this. You will start to lose some of the active cultures if you culture it too long.

Personally, I have a hard time getting my oven light to heat at a constant 100. I culture at 70-75 degrees for 24 hours and I do not react to the lactose in the product.

Warmly,
Angela

Angela | April 10, 2015

Angela,
i cultured my own yogurt but it became too much of a hassle so i stopped. it may be worthwhile to reconsider. if i were to culture full fat milk for 24 hours is there a way to know how much sugar is in the product.

Steve | April 9, 2015

Angela

Hi Elizabeth,

I prefer full fat plain unsweetened yogurt - full fat yogurt satiates better than low fat or non-fat. Simply portion this accordingly, if you are trying to aim for a particular calorie load. Instead of 1 cup nonfat yogurt with 1/2 cup berries, you could have 1/2 cup berries with 1/2 cup full fat yogurt. Health fat is a must in diets - it helps the plan be more sustainable over time.

Angela

Angela | April 10, 2015

Thank you for this article! I found it very helpful and informative, but I don't understand why I should choose full fat instead of low or no fat. Can you explain why full fat yogurt is the healthiest option?

Elizabeth | April 6, 2015

Angela

Hi Bonnie,

I recommend 24 hour yogurt - making yogurt at home. The commercial brands are cultured for 4 hours and still have some lactose, which will exacerbate symptoms. 22 hours of culturing will use up all lactose, so the goal is 24 hours to make sure that all the lactose is cleared. It may seem like a lot of for, but really, it is quite easy. You simply need a culture starter, candy thermometer and then you can use your oven to culture the yogurt for 24 hours. I personally use Organic Valley full fat grass milk.
Angela

Angela | March 23, 2015

I have been using Choboni Greek yogurt in my smoothies...1\2 of the carton. No fat.

Following the scd diet for sibo. Was told geek yogurt was acceptable?

Confused now.

Bonnie | March 21, 2015

Hey Angela,

That's some great advice your giving. It's so important to know the ingredients of each brand and how they compare to other brands. I recently compared popular greek yogurt brands and their ingredients to each other, and the results are quite surprising. You can find my comparison here: http://greekyogurtparadise.com/the-best-greek-yogurt-revealed/

Feel free to include a link to my chart in your post if you think this could be a helpful resource to your readers.

I usually recommend people to make their own greek yogurt if they want to make sure their GY doesn't have any added sugars. If you're interested, my homemade GY recipe is on my blog as well.

Either way, keep up the good work!

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Wallace | October 9, 2014


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