While Greek yogurt is very popular, regular yogurt might offer more nutritional benefits for young children. Pin it here.
Let’s talk Greek yogurt.
I’ve been on the Greek yogurt train for… over a decade? Since whenever it became a thing.
Ya know, high protein, lower sugar (depending on the brand). Basically a better macronutrient composition for an adult, but… I learned some interesting things recently about yogurt and that made me switch from Greek yogurt to regular for my one year old daughter.
Disclosures: None. This post wasn’t created in partnership with any product or brand.
Why I Switched My Daughter from Greek to Regular Yogurt
You see, I was writing a blog post about my favorite yogurts (which I’ve since delayed publishing until after this post) and as I was combing through USDA data of various yogurts, which includes micronutrients that aren’t required to be listed on food labels, I learned that actually… regular yogurt is higher in several vitamins and minerals than Greek yogurt.
How Greek Yogurt Is Made & Why It Loses Micronutrients
I started diving into the why because this isn’t something that’s ever really talked about or marketed.
How Regular Yogurt Is Made
The process of making regular and Greek yogurts starts the same. First, “good” bacteria starters (also known as “cultures”) like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles are added to heated, pasteurized, homogenized milk. (Don’t get scared by big words – that just means it’s been heated to a high temp to kill any potential bad bacterias and then made all the same consistency). Then the milk is incubated for a certain period of time for the fermenting process. The bacteria converts lactose (naturally-occurring milk sugar) to lactic acid which creates a thick and creamy consistency (1,2).
How Greek Yogurt Is Made
Where Greek yogurt processing differs from regular yogurt, is that from there what will become Greek yogurt is strained, often multiple times (3). In this extra straining process, much of the whey and lactose are removed. When the whey is lost, a number of the vitamins and minerals which would usually be present in regular yogurt are also lost. To clarify, they’re not totally gone, but many can be decreased by about 50% (4,5).
Regular Yogurt Has More Vitamins & Minerals than Greek
Let’s compare regular yogurt vs. Greek yogurt. Here I compared 7 oz low-fat plain whole milk yogurt to 7 oz low-fat plain Greek yogurt.
- Calcium: 392 mg (78% DRI for children age 1-3 yo) vs. 230 mg
- Iron: 0.17 mg (6% DRI) vs. 0.08 mg
- Magnesium: 36 mg (55% DRI) vs. 22 mg
- Phosphorous: 309 (81% DRI) mg vs. 274 mg
- Potassium: 502 (17% DRI) mg vs. 282 mg
- Zinc: 1.91 mg vs. 1.2 mg
Notably, I give Baby T a full-fat yogurt because our littles need the extra fat and calories, but USDA data doesn’t have a viewable option for me including the extended nutrient lists for either kind of whole milk yogurts. The micronutrients shouldn’t vary much, though, since whole milk just adjusts the milk fat content.
Why I Made the Switch
Keep in mind that the values above are for 7 oz, and she usually caps out at about 3 or so tablespoons. Since she’s little and can only consume so many calories, ideally she’s eating very nutrient-rich sources of calories. Because the micronutrients are so much higher, especially for key nutrients like calcium and potassium, it makes the most sense for her to use a regular, whole milk yogurt instead of a whole milk Greek yogurt.
If you’re concerned about protein, I wouldn’t be. The DRI for kids ages 1-3 for protein is only 13 g a day (7 oz of regular yogurt would still provide 11 g, if they actually ate that much of one food).
Here are two options I would recommend if you want to make the switch, too:
I like these ones because the only ingredients are milk and the active cultures needed. I prefer to keep the ingredients simple without other thickeners or stabilizers if possible. Again, it’s recommended to do a whole milk (full-fat) yogurt for babies and young children.
Why I’ll Still Buy Greek Yogurt for Me
I’ll still be buying Greek yogurt for myself, though. I eat a lot more calories in a day than she does, which means I have more opportunities to make up for the micronutrients elsewhere. The macronutrient composition for Greek yogurt is more ideal for adults, in my opinion, compared to regular yogurt. And maybe most importantly, I just prefer the flavor and texture. I enjoy it more!
As always, I hope this has been helpful! I’m choosing a plain whole milk yogurt for Baby T because it’s a richer source of micronutrients at her young age. I don’t necessarily think Greek yogurt is a bad choice for the kiddos, I just want her to have an opportunity to have more vitamins and minerals in each little bite! No mom-judgment from me if you’ve chosen a different kind of yogurt!
What type of yogurt do your little kids eat?
What do they like to eat with it?
Did you learn anything new about yogurt you didn’t know before?
Pin this post on what yogurt to feed babies and why I switched my daughter from Greek to regular yogurt here.