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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 May 22, 2019

            10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

            10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

            There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

            One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

            In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

            Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

            1. Cat Camel Stretch

            Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

            Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

            Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

            Here’s a video to guide you through:

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            2. Go for a Walk or a Run

            This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

            Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

            The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

            Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

            Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

            3. Jumping Jacks

            Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

            Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

            4. Abductor Side Lifts

            Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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            Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

            5. Balancing Table Pose

            This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

            Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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              6. Leg Squats

              Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

              Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

              The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

              7. Push Ups

              You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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              An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

              Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

              This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

              8. Bicycle Crunches

              There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

              Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

              9. Lunges

              Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

              Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

              This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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              10. Bicep Curls

              You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

              Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

              Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

              Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

              Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

              These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

              You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

              Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

              More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

              Reference

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