Have you been hearing a lot of buzz about Greek yogurt? I keep hearing that it’s better for you, but no one talks about why. I know Greek yogurt is thicker than traditional yogurt, but that’s about it.

I decided I’d give myself a little education — and I figured that if I needed information, perhaps some of my readers did as well. Here's what I learned:

First of all, there is a difference between Greek yogurt and “Greek-style” yogurt. The latter is usually traditional yogurt with thickening agents added. True Greek yogurt is made differently, and I turned to Mother Jones to learn the basic facts.

  • Both traditional and Greek yogurts start out the same — by fermenting milk with live bacteria cultures.
  • Greek yogurt is created when the yogurt is strained so that the liquid whey is removed. When the whey is gone, the yogurt takes on a thicker, cheesier texture than traditional yogurt.
  • For traditional yogurt, if a cup of milk is used to make the yogurt, one cup of yogurt is produced. In Greek yogurt, it takes more milk to create one cup of yogurt, sometimes up to four cups of milk. This is why true Greek yogurts can be more expensive. 
As far as Greek yogurt’s nutritional benefits, there is more protein because the yogurt is denser. When the lactose is strained, the yogurt loses some of its sugar and carbohydrates. (Does that mean this kind of yogurt is better for those who are lactose-intolerant, too?)

Now, while Greek yogurt might be a bit better nutritionally, Mother Jones points out that it might not be the better choice environmentally because it can take up to four times as much milk to create. Dairy farming consumes a lot of resources.

So there you have it: the basics of Greek yogurt and how it differs from the traditional yogurt.

Do you eat Greek yogurt? When and why did you make the switch? 

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.