If you're Greek, chances are you have been lovingly lectured by your Yiayia on why Greek yoghurt "ine toso Kalo", including how good it is to "balance out the stomahi".
Yiayia may also have advised you to slather some Greek yoghurt on your face to banish those pesky zits, or to add some to the side of every dish you cooked.
Recently, there has been an astronomic rise in the demand in the world market for pure Greek yoghurt outside of Greece, notably in the United States and Australia.
Once hard to come by outside of the Motherland, Pure Greek yoghurt (the properly strained kind) is now available in hundreds of flavours and varieties in supermarkets all around the world. But not all types carry the famous health benefits.
Why has the stuff become so popular? Was Yiayia correct all along?
Greek yoghurt first originated in parts of Europe hundreds of years ago, where the once widely available sheep and goat milk were first fermented to prolong shelf life. This yoghurt was stored in earthenware jars underneath the family dwelling to help it remain cool.
Health and nutrition experts have long sung the praises of Greek yoghurt, with many claiming that just 2 cups per day can 'dramatically improve your health' by providing protein, calcium, iodine, and potassium while helping you feel full for fewer calories'.
Yet, more important than this, Greek yoghurt provides the essential healthy bacteria that your digestive tract requires for optimum digestion, which can affect the entire body, not to mention the mind.
The gut is connected to the brain, which means that a healthy gut equals a healthy mind! So if you want to be in a good mood, why not eat some Greek yoghurt!
To notice all the aforementioned benefits from Greek yoghurt, it is crucial to buy the right kind of Greek Yoghurt.
Traditional 'yaoorti', (AKA Greek Yoghurt) is produced by blending milk and live cultures (beneficial bacteria), then vigorously straining the mixture through a fine filter to remove the whey (the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained).
Whey is normally left over when milk curdles. Straining also removes any of the lactose sugars, salt and water which is left in the mixture. And this is what makes Greek yoghurt special. The more straining, the purer AND better quality the yoghurt will be.
Proper Greek Yoghurt is thicker and higher in protein (around 20g a cup) than standard yoghurts, but also a lot lower in sugar and carbohydrates, because of the extensive draining process.
Traditionally, Greek yoghurt was made with sheep’s or cow’s milk. Nowadays, the Greek yoghurt people buy at the grocery store is made from cow’s milk.
If you're used to buying regular yoghurt, why not switch to Greek Yoghurt? You can enjoy the creamy texture and delicious taste while also reaping the health benefits!
When shopping for Greek yoghurt, be careful not to fall into the trap of buying 'Greek Style' Yoghurt. And yes, there is a tremendous difference between the two.
Katrina Mills, accredited practising dietitian at Body Fusion, explains why.
"Traditional Greek yoghurt should be your top pick because of its high amount of protein and low amount of preservatives".
"Traditional Greek yoghurt has no other ingredients apart from milk, sometimes cream and live cultures," she continued.
"Greek-style yoghurt can contain several ingredients including thickeners, stabilisers, gelatine, gum blends, preservatives and milk solids.
"Although traditional Greek yoghurt may have more kilojoules (energy) than the same amount of Greek-style yoghurt, it is still a better choice because it is free of any additives and boasts an all-natural ingredients list," says Mills.
Katrina also gushes about other amazing benefits of consuming this yummy food, which includes:
-Easing the digestion of carbohydrates in the gut. "These living bacteria can aid in digestion and help build the numbers of healthy bacteria in the gastrointestinal tracts," says Mills.
-Aiding in weight and fat loss. "Also, yoghurt is low in salt and is wonderful for people trying to maintain or lose weight because it often keeps you feeling full, preventing the likelihood of reaching for high salty, fatty and sugary snacks."
Despite all the confusion out there, traditional Greek yoghurt is scientifically proven to be an essential and wholesome food to eat, providing you buy the good stuff.
The best kind is PLAIN, FULL FAT Greek Yoghurt.
The best brands to buy are Evia, Jalna, Fage, Dannon Oikos, Chobani and Barambah Organic. Happy hunting and munching!