Greek yogurt has become a popular food item in the past decade and is often viewed with favor on the Mediterranean diet. In particular, yogurt is an important source of calcium and protein for people following this kind of diet. But does it really fit into a Mediterranean diet?
This is an important question to answer if you’re thinking of adding yogurt as a new food to the diet. If so, what type of yogurt should you be eating, and is it OK to have Greek yogurt on the Mediterranean diet?
Here’s what you need to know about Greek yogurt
- Greek yogurt is cultured with a starter culture and has thicker, creamier texture.
- Both regular (regular) and Greek (thick) yogurts are dairy products which fall under the guidelines for moderation on the Mediterranean Diet.
- Regular yogurt has a higher protein content.
The Greek yogurt has a place in both; it can be used as the main ingredient, but also used as an accompaniment or condiment.
Many people believe that Greek yogurt is fattening or unsweetened, but this is not true. In reality, the fat content is just about the same as for western-style yogurts, and there are lots of plain and sweetened varieties available.
The Mediterranean diet is not a low-fat diet; in fact, the traditional diet is meant to be balanced, including animal protein and vegetables – and yogurt is one of those vegetables.
If you are going to include yogurt in your diet, make sure that it does have some kind of sweetening added. The natural flavor of yogurt has a slight tanginess that can be enhanced with fruit or honey.
It is recommended to use a small amount: one glass (8 oz) of regular yogurt per day as part of your daily diet.
If you are trying to lose weight, it is best to avoid the dessert varieties or the ones with lots of added sugar.
When choosing a flavored yogurt, go for those containing only fruit and not sweeteners. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily intake of added sugars to 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
A 150g (5 oz) serving of plain Greek yogurt contains around 10 grams of sugar, or close to 1 teaspoon; 1 tablespoon of honey adds about 20 calories (or 4% of your daily limit).
In order to make sure you stay within the recommended amount of sugar, use it as a condiment or topping for desserts and other dishes outside the breakfast setting.
The best yogurt varieties for a Mediterranean diet are Greek, low–fat, plain and natural, or flavored with fruit or honey.
Greek yogurt is great for those following the Mediterranean Diet, but be sure to get the right type of yogurt.