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Amazing Benefits Of Greek Yogurt (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Amazing Benefits Of Greek Yogurt (+5 Refreshing Recipes)

Greek yogurt stands out from other types of yogurt that you can choose at the grocery store for a lot of reasons. Thicker in consistency than its regular yogurt counterpart, this Mediterranean-style favorite undergoes a processing method that involves more extensive straining in order to remove most of the whey, lactose and sugar.

When you taste Greek yogurt, its thick and creamy texture will be incomparable to any other type of yogurt you’ve tried. Besides that, there are several good health-related reasons why you should consider making it a regular part of your diet.

1. It helps lower blood pressure

Some varieties of yogurt contain twice as much sodium as Greek yogurt, which can contribute to higher blood pressure levels and an increased risk of additional heart-related problems if your sodium intake surpasses the daily recommended value. A 100-gram serving of nonfat Greek yogurt contains just about 36 milligrams of sodium. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, most people should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.

2. It improves digestive health

When you choose to incorporate Greek yogurt into your diet, you’re also getting the added digestive power of the probiotics it contains. These are live, “good” bacteria that help balance out the bad bacteria in your gut. Probiotics also have anti-inflammatory and anti-pathogenic effects, essentially giving your your immune system a bit of a boost so your body is better equipped to fight off any harmful bacteria.

3. It keeps you fuller for longer

Greek yogurt has twice as much protein per serving as regular yogurt does and cuts the sugar content down by nearly half (when you choose plain over flavored). A typical 100-gram serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt has about 10 grams of protein. More protein keeps you full for longer because it takes longer to digest, so you won’t be reaching for other snacks as soon as some other varieties of yogurt might cause you to do.

4. It helps you lose weight

With less than 4 grams of carbohydrates and less than half a gram of fat per 100-gram serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt, it’s a perfect choice for people who are watching how many carbs or how much fat they’re consuming. And at only 59 calories, Greek yogurt can help you stick to your daily calorie intake–whether you’re trying to lose or maintain weight.

5. It keeps your brain healthy

Greek yogurt contains Vitamin B12, which is only found in animal products. A 100-gram serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt provides about 13 percent of your recommended daily value of this vitamin, which is necessary for a well functioning brain and nervous system. It also helps with cell reproduction and keeps your skin looking healthy.

6. It supports good heart, bone, muscle and nerve health

Dairy products are known to be among the best sources of absorbable calcium, providing some of the highest concentrations of it per serving. Greek yogurt doesn’t contain quite as much calcium as regular yogurt, but a 100-gram nonfat serving still provides around 11 percent of your recommended daily value. Calcium is necessary to keep your teeth strong, your heart rhythm beating at a healthy pace, your blood flowing and all sorts of other parts of your body healthy and functioning properly.

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7. It may be an appropriate alternative for people who are sensitive to dairy

People who are lactose intolerant may be able to add small amounts of Greek yogurt to their diet because it doesn’t have as much lactose as other dairy products, due to the fact that it undergoes a different processing method. When Greek yogurt is strained, much of the lactose is removed. Although lactose intolerant people may not be able to eliminate their symptoms entirely by adding Greek yogurt to their diets, they may at least experience less severe symptoms.

8. It gives your metabolism a boost

Humans need trace amounts of iodine to keep their thyroids healthy, and dairy products like Greek yogurt are a good source of this essential mineral. The thyroid gland helps regulate your metabolism–including blood cell production, nerve function and muscle function. Adding more iodine-rich foods in your diet may help you lose weight if you’ve been struggling to shed those extra pounds.

Reap the Benefits of Greek Yogurt with These Recipes

To get the full benefits of Greek yogurt, make sure you do your research and choose a brand that isn’t too highly processed. Always read the label to check that it contains “live and active cultures” for the probiotic component, and stick to plain, nonfat varieties to keep sugar and fat content as low as possible.

Plain Greek yogurt gets kind of boring after a while on its own, so here are a few delicious ways to get creative with using it:

Refreshing Strawberry-Banana Greek Yogurt Smoothie

    One of the best ways to pump up the flavor of your plain Greek yogurt is by adding fruit to it. Its thick, creamy texture makes it a perfect addition to smoothies.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 large, ripe banana
    • 1 cup fresh strawberries
    • 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
    • 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
    • 4 – 6 ice cubes (optional)

    Directions:

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    Throw all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. You can add more ice cubes for an even thicker consistency, or instead add unsweetened almond milk (or even just plain water) for a thinner consistency.

    Homemade Greek Yogurt Caesar Dressing

      Whipping up your own salad dressing is one of the healthiest decisions you can make to cut out extra fat and sugar that’s packed into store-bought varieties. Greek yogurt is ideal for making creamy salad dressings like ranch and caesar.

      Ingredients:

      • 1/2 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
      • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
      • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
      • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
      • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
      • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
      • 1 garlic clove

      Directions:

      Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Store the dressing in a mason jar and refrigerate for up to one week.

      Oatmeal and Greek Yogurt Pancakes

        Greek yogurt can even be used as a creamy baking ingredient in pancakes, muffins and more of your favorite baked goods. If you’re tired of eating Greek yogurt in its original form, this is a great way to sneak more of it into your diet.

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        Ingredients:

        • 1 cup whole wheat flour
        • 1 cup milk (or unsweetened almond milk)
        • 1/2 cup quick oats
        • 1/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
        • 1 egg
        • 2 heaped tablespoons brown sugar
        • 2 teaspoons baking powder
        • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

        Directions:

        In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and egg, followed by the brown sugar, yogurt and vanilla extract until it’s smooth.

        Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until just combined, being careful not to over mix. Coat a skillet with nonstick spray and set it on the stove over medium heat.

        Pour a 1/4-cup portion of the pancake mixture onto the hot skillet and let it cook for about a minute before flipping it over and cooking the other side for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve right away with maple syrup and optional fruit like berries or bananas.

        Creamy Greek Yogurt Mac n’ Cheese

          For some comfort food with a bit of a healthier spin to it, you can use Greek yogurt instead of regular cream or excessive amounts of cheese. It’s one of the best ingredients you can use to create creamy, cheesy sauces for pasta dishes.

          Ingredients:

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          • 2 cups dry macaroni noodles (ideally whole wheat, if possible)
          • 2 cups shredded low-fat cheese
          • 1/2 cup of milk or unsweetened almond milk
          • 1/2 plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
          • 1/4 teaspoon salt

          Directions:

          Cook the noodles according to the package directions. In a pot placed on the stove over medium heat, cook the milk, cheese and salt until it all melts together. Reduce heat to low and add the yogurt, stirring and cooking just until everything is mixed and hot. Add the sauce to the cooked noodles and serve.

          Chocolate Fudge Yogurt Popsicles

            Greek yogurt freezes quite well and can be eaten as a delicious, frozen treat. Mix it with your favorite flavors like fruit or chocolate for an indulgent dessert that’s actually pretty good for you.

            Ingredients:

            • 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
            • 1 cup milk or unsweetened almond milk
            • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
            • 2/3 cup honey or agave nectar
            • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

            Directions:

            Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth and then pour the mixture into popsicle molds with sticks. Place the molds in the freezer overnight and enjoy them the next day.

            One of the best things about enjoying the benefits of Greek yogurt is that it’s an extremely versatile food, and it can be used in both sweet and savory foods. Whether you’re eating a bowl full of it with fresh berries or using it as a creamy base for the sauce that goes with your next dinnertime dish, you’ll definitely want to keep a tub of Greek yogurt around in your refrigerator whenever you get the urge to experiment with some new and exciting recipes.

            Featured Image Credits: Strawberry-banana yogurt smoothie, salad dressing, pancakes, mac n’ cheese, chocolate fudge popsicle.

            Featured photo credit: Anna_Pustynnikova via shutterstock.com

            More by this author

            Elise Moreau

            Elise helps desk workers lead healthier lifestyles. Visit her website on her profile to get a free list of health hacks.

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            Last Updated on September 25, 2019

            How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

            How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

            As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

            When we were still children, our thoughts seemed to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

            Just imagine then, how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power!

            We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities.

            We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

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            We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb.

            We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits.

            And we’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head…

            But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

            So, how can we tap into the power of positivity?

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            “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

            It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are 4 simple yet powerful ideas on how you can get started.

            1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

            Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

            Just take a look at these 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

            2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

            This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

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            You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty.

            If you seek it, you will find it.

            3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

            This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what really is important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

            Here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life that can inspire you.

            4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

            How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking.

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            Instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

            Learn from this article how to change your mental images: How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

            If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

            And remember:

            You are (or will become) what you think you are.

            This is reasonable enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

            More About Staying Positive

            Featured photo credit: Lauren Richmond via unsplash.com

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