Yogurt is high in protein and calcium, and yogurts that contain live and active cultures are widely lauded for their health benefits. After a recent injury, my own doctor suggested that I include yogurt with live and active cultures to my diet as a way to stave off infection. Live cultures are actual living organisms, generally referred to as probiotics or „good bacteria.”
Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization as living micro- organisms that confer health benefits when consumed. Probiotics are believed to help prevent gastrointestinal infections, boost the body’s immune system, and even fight certain types of cancer and prevent osteoporosis. While they are still being studied by scientists around the world, the results to date continue to be encouraging.
Ali yogurts are made with live active cultures, although some yogurts are then heat-treated to increase shelf-life and de- crease the tangy flavor of yogurt. Greek- style yogurts, however, contain significantly more cultures and other probiotics due to how Greek yogurt is produced.
Yogurt is milk that is fermented with the aid of bacterial cultures. When milk, specifically the sugar in milk, is bacterially fermented it creates lactic acid, which acts on milk protein to give it the texture and tangy taste of yogurt. To make Greek yogurt, this fermented milk is then strained, usually through either a cloth or paper bag, resulting in a thicker, creamier product. Making a single cup of regular yogurt takes one cup of milk, but making a single cup of Greek yogurt can require three or more cups of milk. In the way a glass of Retsina has the same amount of alcohol as a shot of Metaxa, this process concentrates the protein, calcium and probiotics of three cups of regular yogurt into one cup of Greek yogurt.
THE RISE OF GREEK YOGURT
The popularity of Greek yogurt is reflected by its heightened visibility in- side grocery stores. Like Alexander the Great marching across Asia, Greek yogurt has spread out and conquered the dairy section.
There are several different brands of Greek yogurt vying for cart space. Some of the leading brands, such as Chobani or Fage, specialize in Greek yogurt, but even the more classic brands such as Dannon and Yoplait have developed their own contenders for the market.
Portions of five different brands of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt were set in front of me with no difference from one dish to the next. I paid attention to their creaminess and tartness, but also the overall flavor to choose the best Greek yogurt:
With four of the five samples, I tasted a small spoonful of a yogurt, put the spoon down and wrote a few notes about what I liked and didn’t like.; But there was one yogurt, one exception, to this process.
I tasted that fifth yogurt, and as I considered what I liked most about it, I subconsciously licked the spoon completely clean. It was the perfect combination of taste and texture and I happily finished off this winning sample.
This company was founded by three friends in Seattle in 2003. They developed a line of products with the hope of sharing their proud heritage and family values while maintaining a high level of quality in their product.
Unfortunately, Greek Gods Greek yogurt was easily my least favorite. It was the only yogurt that looked and tasted grainy. The signature creaminess I would normally associate with Greek yogurt was surprisingly absent. While it was sour in taste, it also had a vanilla-like flavor that I would never associate with plain Greek yogurt.
After examining the container, Greek Gods appears to be the only brand that contains ingredients (Pectin and Inulin) in addition to milk and live active cultures.
OIKOS (DANNON) AND STONYFIELD FARM
Isaac Carasso founded Danone in 1919 and brought it to the United States in 1942. It was well-received, but they revolutionized yogurt in 1947 by becoming the first company to introduce „fruit on the bottom” yogurt. Today Dannon is one of the top two providers of yogurt in the United States.
In the early 2000s, Danone actually aquired 85% of Stonyfield Farm, which began producing Greek yogurt in 2007 under the Oikos name. Dannon began producing their own Greek yogurt in 2010, and in 2011 adopted Oikos for itself.
Neither yogurt was bad, but each one seemed to be lacking what the other excelled at.
Dannons Oikos had an excel- lent smoothness to it and was very much the kind of texture that I look for in Greek yogurt, but the flavor lacked the tartness of a good Greek yogurt. Where- as Stoneyfield had that wonderful tart- almost-sour flavor to it that I have always associated with Greek yogurt, but it was much thinner in texture. Not quite like regular yogurt, but certainly thinner than Greek yogurt should be. Perhaps mixing the two together would produce the perfect Greek yogurt, but they are currently fourth and third on my list.
Fage was born of very humble beginnings when Athanassios Filippou opened a small dairy shop in Athens, Greece, in 1926. The shop grew and become popular throughout Europe and began exporting to the United States in 1998. The company’s main headquarters remain in Athens, but in 2008 they opened a 220,000-square-foot plant in upstate New York.
Fage has a very satisfying thick and creamy, yet smooth texture as well as a tartness that would be complemented by anything from fruit and granola for breakfast to honey and walnuts for dessert. Fage, however, is missing the sour tanginess connected to Greek yogurt, so while it may be the best for eating with other food, it is the runner-up in this stand-alone taste test.
A relative newcomer in the yogurt industry, Chobani was founded in 2005 in New York and is currently the top-selling brand of yogurt in the United States. In December 2012, Chobani opened a 1 million-square-foot yogurt processing plant in Twin Falls, Idaho. Chobani’s Greek yogurt was the best of all that I sampled. I can go on and on about how smooth and creamy the texture was, or how it was just sour enough to be delicious without being puckering, or how I have literally purchased dozens of containers of Chobani since completing this comparison—all of which is true—but I think most significant is still that I licked the spoon completely clean.
One clean spoon surrounded by four still covered in yogurt.
No matter what time of day, Greek yogurt is a satisfying and healthy snack. When it comes to selecting a brand, my recommendation lies in Chobani. All Greek yogurts contain the same wonderful health benefits though, so no matter which brand is your favorite, Greek yogurt is one food that is anything but a strain to add to your diet.
Source: GC- GREEKCIRCLR-SPRING-SUMMER2133