RD’s Choice – Dannon’s® Greek Yogurt

By Sophie Wagner, Dietetic Internship, Viterbo University

History

Although Greek yogurt has been available in America since 1998, it didn’t have a significant spot on American’s grocery list until 2007.  Prior to 2007, out of all yogurt sales, Greek yogurt made up 1% of sales.  It was there, but people weren’t buying it.  As more and more brands of Greek yogurt became available, and familiar yogurt brands, Dannon’s ® being one of them, came out with their own line of Greek yogurt, sales skyrocketed.  Between 2007-2013 Greek yogurt went from making up 1% of yogurt sales to 44% of sales.  In 2023 it’s not uncommon to hear people liking or using Greek yogurt for things.

How It's Made

Greek yogurt differs from regular yogurt in that it is strained after fermentation.  This straining gets rid of excess water and some of the naturally produced sugars.  The resulting product is thicker, due to less water content and has a more pronounced tangy flavor.  Personally, I think plain Greek yogurt has a similar taste to sour cream.

Fortunately, with the popularity of Greek yogurt, flavors and varieties have also increased.  This week's special, Dannon's ® Light and Fit, Greek yogurt has a wide variety of flavors ranging from strawberry cheesecake to toasted coconut.  Other brands have Greek yogurt with 2% or 5% milk fat in it, which gives it a creamier and richer texture.  

Benefits

One of the health benefits of Greek yogurt and fermented foods in general, is the presence of probiotics.  Probiotics are bacteria that are present in some foods.  Our small intestine has a lot of bacteria.  It's actually estimated we have more bacteria cells in us than we do human cells!  In our gut they help with digesting food properly and moving things through.  In fact, it's believed people with some GI issues, such as Chron's or Irritable Bowel System (IBS) have an imbalance of healthy bacteria in their gut.  Even if you don't have one of these GI issues, increasing the number and variety of bacteria in your gut  There are probiotic supplements out there but they don't provide a solution.  Probiotic supplements temporarily increase the number of bacteria in your gut but they are execrated in our feces at the end of the day.

As a Food Supplement

In yogurts the common types of bacteria are L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, and L. Acidophilus.  These are known as probiotics.  Some probiotic supplements advertise having "probiotic + prebiotic".  Prebiotics on the other hand are "food" for the bacteria in your gut.  An example of something that functions as a prebiotic is resistant starch or fiber.  Resistant starch and fiber are food for the bacteria in our GI.  Our bodies don't get a lot of calories from resistant starch, and nearly zero calories from fiber.  However, as I previously mentioned, probiotic supplements don't permanently alter the bacteria in our gut.  To encourage the growth and diversity of the bacteria in our gut we need to consume probiotics and prebiotics from food.  An example of this coming from food would be Dannon's ® Greek yogurt, fruit, and some granola.  The yogurt provides probiotics, the fruit adds fiber to the meal, and many brands of granola contain oatmeal in some form, which contains fiber and resistant starch.

Usage Recommendation

You can use Greek yogurt for whatever your heart desires.  Many of us gravitate towards a yogurt parfait or putting it in a smoothie to add protein.  But it can be used in savory dishes.  Added to mashed potatoes to make a creamier texture without adding a lot of fat or you can try this veggie dip recipe below.


Greek Yogurt Veggie Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
  • 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Measure the Greek yogurt into a medium bowl. Stir in the parsley, dill, vinegar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper until well incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt if necessary.
2. Cover and chill (for at least 4 hours, but ideally 8 hours to overnight) to allow the flavors to blend. Garnish with additional fresh herbs, if desired, and serve with raw veggies and/or pita wedges.