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Icelandic vs. Greek Yogurt: Which is the Healthy Choice?

09/21/2019
By Sam Davis, BHS, CPT, FNS

As time goes on, there are always new fitness crazes, diets to try, and new “healthy” foods to research. But sometimes, go-to foods that are supposedly amazing for you—aren’t actually as healthy as they seem. That’s the case with most yogurt. But now, we have choices. Is there a difference between Icelandic and Greek yogurt when it comes to health and fitness?

Greek yogurt became a staple in the grocery aisles after its Americanized cousin found in Yoplait containers was exposed as a very high sugar food. As Greek yogurt became more popular, so did other types of yogurts like Skyr, also known as Icelandic yogurt.

Now that there are so many options on the market, here’s how to make the best choice for your health and fitness.

What is Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt is made from dairy milk that has been cultured, fermented, then strained. In the straining process, the whey is removed, which creates the thick consistency which highly differs from regular yogurt. This makes the protein content much higher as it’s condensed and there usually isn’t much added sugar (just read the nutrition labels), and you can find them in non-fat, low-fat, and whole-fat. The natural fat in the yogurt comes from the dairy itself.

Greek Yogurt Nutrition Explained – BJC Healthcare

A bonus: tangy yogurt can be used for so much more than just breakfast. It can also be used as a healthy replacement for sour cream, be thrown into a batter to add some density and fluff to your baked goods, and you can use it to make yummy dips and sauces. Greek yogurt also adds protein and healthy fats to almost any dish.

What Is Icelandic Yogurt (skyr)?

This is a yogurt that’s fairly new in our grocery stores. Before, you used to only be able to find this type of yogurt in health food stores like Whole Foods. Now, you can find skyr in some gas stations as a quick snack on the go. This Icelandic-style yogurt is strained even more than Greek yogurts, which makes it very dense. But, Icelandic yogurt is still very much like Greek yogurt.

What is Icelandic Yogurt? – Dairy Good

You can use skyr just like you would Greek yogurt. It has even more protein than Greek yogurt, and usually has zero added sugar (unless you get the honey kind) which makes Skyr a bit better for health-conscious sweat junkies.

Is Icelandic Yogurt (Skyr) Better for You Than American Yogurt?

Yes. It’s not even a close call. Americanized yogurt is watered down and pumped with sugar, which makes it actually quite unhealthy. When you compare the two side by side, you’ll notice a huge difference in carb, sugar, and protein content (not to mention all the added junk in the ingredients label America has added to their yogurt).

As you can see, Americanized yogurt has added pure sugar, whereas Icelandic yogurt has half the sugar content. (Plus, its sugar occurs naturally.) There is more than double the amount of protein in Icelandic yogurt, zero fat, and a significantly lower amount of carbohydrates.

Is Icelandic Yogurt Healthier Than Greek Yogurt?

Icelandic and Greek yogurt have shared benefits. However, Icelandic is still healthier based on the nutrition label.

Benefits of Greek Yogurt: It’s packed with vitamins like calcium for bone health and  B12 for brain function. The probiotics are microorganisms that help immensely with gut health. It is higher in protein than American yogurt, which makes it an awesome pre or post-workout meal. Protein is vital for all bodily functions, so it’s good to know how much protein you need daily.

Benefits of Skyr: The reason why skyr takes the cake is because the protein content is even higher than Greek yogurt. It’s also packed with vitamins and minerals, but has less sugar and carbs than American yogurt and Greek yogurt—which is why Icelandic yogurt should be at the top of your grocery list.

The Bottom Line

Let’s face it: fitness and ice cream don’t go hand-in-hand. Subsequently, we find ourselves on a never-ending search for healthier alternatives. If healthy nutrition is a priority, then it’s easy to pick the right yogurt. When you must choose between Icelandic and Greek yogurt, go with Icelandic, or Skyr yogurt. It’s not ice cream, but it is delicious and creamy. The high protein Icelandic yogurt is definitely a great addition to your fitness and nutrition program for a low sugar, low carb, low fat, high protein snack.

Here are a few of my favorite Icelandic Yogurt flavors you can try today.

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