By now, you probably know there's a big difference between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt, both in the taste and the texture of each. When it comes to the Greek yogurt vs. regular yogurt question, though, here's what you should keep in mind: Greek yogurt is by nature thicker and can be described as having a tart flavor, whereas regular yogurt isn't as dense, and it has a more runny kind of consistency and is naturally sweeter. Why? It all has to do with the straining process.
Greek yogurt is thicker and has a creamier consistency than regular yogurt because the whey—the liquid substance that remains after milk has been curdled and strained—has been removed from it. In part because of this process, the nutritional content of each type of yogurt is different. We consulted Laura Burak MS, RD, CDN, who's also Nutritious Life Certified, for more information on how the two yogurts differ nutritionally to help you decide which is the better fit for your dietary needs when it comes to the great debate of Greek yogurt vs. regular yogurt.
Greek yogurt vs. regular yogurt: what are the differences between them?
"Any plain yogurt is not only a great source of protein and calcium, but it's also convenient and easy to find in most stores, versatile in meals, and economical for the nutritional punch it provides," says Burak. "Greek yogurt, however, contains nearly triple the amount of protein as regular, due to the straining process, which results in a thicker consistency and more sour taste."
That's why Greek yogurt has so much more protein than regular yogurt—it's more concentrated due to the absence of the whey. While Greek yogurt dominates regular yogurt in protein content, regular yogurt has more of an important bone-building mineral.
"Plain, unstrained yogurt typically contains more calcium than Greek though, and is sometimes more palatable to my clients who aren't used to the thickness," Burak says.
So, is one style of yogurt healthier for you than the other?
Burak says that plain Greek yogurt and regular yogurt are both healthy choices, it just boils down to personal preference.
"If my clients are looking for an easy way to incorporate a nice amount of protein into a snack or meal, I do recommend Greek first for its protein content, as more protein will slow digestion, control blood sugar, and increase satiety—and encourage them to doctor it up with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nuts or granola," she says. "If they can't tolerate the sour taste, however, regular plain yogurt always works, too."
Anything else people should know about the two types of yogurt?
Burak says to be mindful of the added sugar varieties offered for both Greek yogurt and regular yogurt. She suggests opting for the plain version of both because the plain flavor only comprises the naturally occurring kind of sugar from milk, known as lactose.
"Also, it is important to note that eating yogurt with some fat, as in 2 to 4 percent or whole milk, will not only increase that satiety, or feeling of fullness, but it is so much more palatable than fat-free without adding significant calories," she says. "I love 2 percent plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts."
The final verdict in the Greek yogurt vs. regular yogurt debate.
Let's recap: Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt, and it isn't as sweet. This is because the liquid remains of milk—known as whey—have been strained out, leaving it with a higher concentration of protein. It also has fewer carbohydrates and, therefore, less sugar.
On the other hand, regular yogurt has more calcium than Greek yogurt, because it still has the whey intact, which naturally houses calcium.
So, when it comes to Greek yogurt vs. regular yogurt, you really can't go wrong with eating either, as long as you always stick with the plain versions.