(Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone has made an investment in Drum Foods International Pvt Ltd, the maker of flavoured yogurt brand Epigamia, as part of a strategic partnership that will also see her endorse the brand. FIT is republishing this piece from the archives.)
Greek yogurt is basking in its glory. Be it Instagram, commercials, your favourite celebrity – everyone is gaga about it. And now with so many neighbourhood stores stocking little cups of Greek yogurt, it’s not out of reach.
So, what’s the all the hype about? Is it healthy? How is it different from regular yogurt? Can you make it at home? Here’s all you need to know about Greek yogurt.
No points for guessing that Greek yogurt has its origins in Greece. It's basically a strained yogurt from which the whey protein has been removed. As a result, its consistency becomes thicker and creamier, while retaining its distinct sour flavour.
Health Benefits of Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt packs in a healthy punch. A single serving of Greek yogurt for breakfast can keep you fortified and fighting-fit for the rest of the day.
It’s packed with nutritious ingredients. It is rich in protein that helps in growth, repair, increase in muscle mass etc.
Probiotics like Greek yogurt, contain the “good bacteria” that help to keep the gut in good health. It’s also a rich source of the B-vitamins, and it contains high amounts of calcium and potassium.
It is these distinctive nutrients that make Greek yogurt stand-out.
Rich in Protein
As you get older, you need extra protein to keep your skin healthy and to fight off infections. A typical serving of Greek yogurt provides 15-20 g of protein, which is equivalent to that provided by 2-3 ounces of lean meat (1 ounce = 28.3 g).
Therefore, taken regularly, Greek yogurt meets much of your daily protein needs, without having to rely on heavy food items like meat, which is more difficult to digest with progressing age.
Its high protein content can also promote weight loss, because it will make you feel fuller for longer periods in between meals.
Probiotics to Keep Your Gut Healthy
Probiotics are live, good bacteria, which when consumed in yogurts, may help to protect against harmful bacteria in the gut. It’s beneficial for your digestive system.
Greek yogurt contains many helpful probiotics. There is some evidence that these probiotics may also help prevent or mitigate colds, flu and childhood allergies.
Moreover, without the healthy balance of “good bacteria” from probiotics, the “bad bacteria” can multiply in the gut and ruin your immune system.
A Rich Source of B-Vitamins
A single serving of Greek yogurt is packed with the B-vitamins riboflavin, cyanocobalamin, thiamine, and pyridoxine.
This combination of B-vitamins is vital for energy metabolism, as well as the proper functioning of the immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems.
A very good breakfast idea is to mix a serving of Greek yogurt with fresh fruits and nuts. This will supplement the B-vitamins with large amounts of vitamin C and vitamin A, thereby revitalizing your system in the morning.
A Good Balance of Minerals to Keep You Fit
Greek yogurt contains substantial amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Of these, the amount of calcium is the highest. It provides approximately 20 percent of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of calcium.
Greek yogurt is a high-calcium, low-fat sour cream substitute in any sauce, dip or main course recipe.
Moreover, since Greek yogurt contains much lesser amounts of sodium than potassium, the potassium balances out the sodium, which is consumed in excess nowadays by most people around the globe.
Iodine to Keep Your Weight in Check
Greek yogurt contains lots of iodine, which is vital for optimal thyroid function. The thyroid hormones are responsible for maintaining proper metabolic function. The extra iodine will boost the synthesis of these thyroid hormones, which will increase the metabolic rate, thereby helping in burning-off extra fat, leading to weight loss.
A Great Post Workout Snack
A serving of Greek yogurt with some crushed walnuts and berries is an excellent post workout snack. Rich in amino acids, the building-blocks of proteins, it helps in repairing and regenerating worn-out muscle tissue after a strenuous exercise session.
How to Make Fresh Homemade Greek Yogurt?
You need not rely on a commercial supplier for your Greek yogurt. You can prepare it yourself at home.
Making Greek yogurt is incredibly easy, especially if you take normal yogurt as your starting material. All you need is a strainer or wire mesh, a cheese cloth, a bowl, a refrigerator, and some patience.
- Line the strainer or wire mesh with cheese cloth, and pour the yogurt over it.
- Strain out the excess water.
- Place the cheese cloth with yogurt over a bowl and secure the sides with some rubber bands.
- Keep in a refrigerator for 2-4 hours for further separation of the whey. The result is Greek yogurt.
Alternatively, you can take milk as your starting material, first make yogurt and then follow the above steps. An important tip is that if you’re making Greek yogurt from milk, make sure you use low-fat milk instead of full-cream milk.
It can be used in a number of ways – as salad dressings, dips, in fruit bowls and just eaten as it is. With all these power-packed nutrients, it looks like Greek yogurt is here to stay!
(Dr Saurabh Arora has a doctorate in pharmaceutics and is the MD and Founder of Food Safety Helpline.)