Greek Yogurt Nutrition, Benefits, Risks and Side Effects - Dr. Axe

Fact Checked

This Dr. Axe content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure factually accurate information.

With strict editorial sourcing guidelines, we only link to academic research institutions, reputable media sites and, when research is available, medically peer-reviewed studies. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to these studies.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by our trained editorial staff. Note that the numbers in parentheses (1, 2, etc.) are clickable links to medically peer-reviewed studies.

Our team includes licensed nutritionists and dietitians, certified health education specialists, as well as certified strength and conditioning specialists, personal trainers and corrective exercise specialists. Our team aims to be not only thorough with its research, but also objective and unbiased.

The information in our articles is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.

Greek Yogurt Benefits for Your Bones, Gut and Muscles


Greek yogurt - Dr. Axe

Around the world, dairy is mostly recognized as an important part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Yogurt is usually the most acclaimed dairy product of all — especially Greek yogurt, which has become more popular than ever over the past decade or so, considering it’s especially high in protein, calcium, selenium and phosphorus.

Can you eat Greek yogurt every day as part of a healthy diet? For people who can tolerate dairy well, yes — assuming you choose the right type (especially those low in added sugar) and you can digest milk products well (which includes all types of yogurt).

If this applies to you, then it makes a great snack or breakfast that is high in protein and other nutrients.

Many people enjoy the thick, creamy texture of this yogurt — plus it’s known to provide hard-to-get calcium in addition to several other nutrients, like selenium, phosphorus and potassium.

What Is Greek Yogurt?

Greek yogurt originated in parts of Europe hundreds of years ago, where widely available cow and goat milk were first fermented to prolong shelf life.


This type of yogurt is made by combining milk and live cultures (bacteria), then straining the mixture through a filter to remove the liquid whey that naturally occurs in milk. Straining also removes some of the lactose sugars, salt and water, which is why Greek yogurt is thicker and higher in protein than standard yogurts but also usually lower in sugar and carbohydrates.

Today, many yogurts that claim to be “Greek-style” don’t follow traditional methods and instead take shortcuts, like adding thickening agents, such as condensed milk, cornstarch, carrageenan or gelatin. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate the term “Greek-style,” so this actually means practically nothing when it comes to ingredients or preparation.

One unfortunate aspect of Greek yogurt is that every cup of Greek yogurt takes about three cups of milk to make, which results in a lot of unused and wasted material that needs to be disposed of. As a comparison, regular yogurt uses about a quarter of this amount. In particular, Greek yogurt production creates a lot of acid whey — 2–3 kg of acid whey remains for every kg of Greek yogurt produced.

Farmers and Greek yogurt companies are still grappling with more economical and ecological ways to deal with this acid whey. While farmers can spread it on their field, only limited amounts can be used because of toxic runoff into nearby waterways (producing algal blooms, fish kills and more).

Nutrition Facts

The healthiest version of Greek yogurt is the lowfat (often 2 percent milk fat) variety. It’s high in protein while being relatively low in fat and carbohydrates. Importantly, it’s also especially high in multiple minerals like selenium, phosphorus and calcium as well as vitamins like vitamin B12, riboflavin, vitamin A and pantothenic acid.

Meanwhile, whole fat Greek yogurt is both higher in fat and calories, and flavored and sweetened versions are considerably higher in carbohydrates and added sugar.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one container (7 oz or 200 g) of plain, lowfat Greek yogurt contains:

  • Calories: 146
  • Total Carbohydrates: 7.9 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugar: 7.1 g
  • Total Fat: 3.8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.5 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1 g
  • Protein: 19.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 20 mg
  • Sodium: 68 mg (3% DV*)
  • Selenium: 24.8 mcg (45% DV)
  • Vitamin B12: 1.04 mcg (43% DV)
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 0.47 mg (36% DV)
  • Phosphorus: 274 mg (22% DV)
  • Vitamin A: 180 mcg (20% DV)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 0.94 mg (19% DV)
  • Calcium: 230 mg (18% DV)
  • Zinc: 1.2 mg (11% DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.11 mg (6% DV)
  • Potassium: 282 mg (6% DV)
  • Magnesium: 22 mg (5% DV)

*Daily Value: Percentages are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day.


Why is Greek yogurt good for you? Let’s look more closely at the potential benefits of consuming this type of yogurt:

1. Provides plenty of protein

Although all milk products provide some protein, the way in which Greek yogurt is made makes it a top high-protein food. Depending on the particular brand, one cup of Greek yogurt can contain between 17 and 24 grams of protein, the equivalent to eating about three to four eggs.

Including enough protein foods in your diet is important for making you feel full, helping build and maintain muscle mass, and for many other functions, such as supporting skin and bone health.

How much protein do you need? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the recommended daily minimum intake of protein for adults who are at an average weight and activity level is 56 grams per day for men and 46 grams per day for women. However, these are considered minimum amounts. 

2. Boosts bone health

Yogurt is a food high in calcium, which helps strengthen and maintain bone mass. Some yogurts (and other milk products) are also fortified with vitamin D, which promotes calcium absorption and supports proper bone mineralization.

With not just calcium but also protein, phosphorus and magnesium in Greek yogurt, it’s a food that can help maintain the health of the skeletal system as well as increase bone formation.

One study found that Greek yogurt consumption helped improve bone health markers in adults following exercise programs when consumed post-workout over a 12-week period.


3. Supports gut health

Yogurt is one of the most popular probiotic foods in the world, especially if you buy yogurt with the “Live & Active Cultures (LAC) seal” that indicates that the yogurt contains a significant amount of beneficial bacteria (probiotics).

It’s also key to choose only unsweetened Greek yogurt, as sweetened yogurt with added sugar can interfere with gut health.

Unprocessed, fermented dairy products are beneficial for gut health because of the probiotics (“good bacteria”) they provide. The live cultures active in Greek yogurt usually include bacteria S. thermophilus (St) and L. bulgaricus (Lb), which are responsible for its characteristic sour or tangy taste.

Benefits of adding probiotic foods to your diet can include enhanced nutrient absorption, improved digestion, reduced constipation and diarrhea, and even protection against problems related to colon damage.

In addition to providing bacteria that can help replenish and promote gut health, the fermentation process that is used to make yogurt also naturally helps breaks down lactose molecules, along with some of the proteins found in dairy (casein and whey). This usually means they are easier on digestion than milk —  plus they have less of a hormonal response.

Aside from yogurt, kefir is another popular fermented dairy product that holds protective bacteria that’s available to you when you eat it.

4. High in minerals

Greek yogurt is a fountain of minerals, with high levels of selenium, phosphorus and calcium in particular. It also contains a good amount of zinc, potassium and magnesium.

Selenium is a nutrient found in yogurt that plays a critical role in detoxification and liver function, as well as hormonal and thyroid health.

Phosphorus is important for building strong teeth and bones, plus it helps our tissues and cells repair and grow.

5. High in vitamins: A, B2, B5 and B12

Vitamin B12, riboflavin (B2), vitamin A and pantothenic acid (B5) show up in considerable amounts in Greek yogurt.

B12 is required for red blood formation, energy production and nervous system function.

Riboflavin is important for the maintenance of healthy blood cells, energy levels, and protection of skin and eye health.

Vitamin A is needed in the body for normal vision, immune system function as well as our growth and development.

Pantothenic acid is a key contributor to cardiovascular health, energy production as well as healthy digestion.

6. Assist with muscle recovery and a healthy body composition

As a post-workout snack, Greek yogurt is an excellent option because its high protein content can help assist muscle growth and recovery.

A 2019 study demonstrated that Greek yogurt consumed during a strength-training program resulted in improved strength, muscle thickness and body composition compared to a carbohydrate-based placebo diet.

Greek yogurt is also filling because it contains both protein and fat. Therefore, it may help manage a healthy weight. In fact, a review of 22 studies concluded that regular consuming yogurt was linked to lower body fat, smaller waist circumference and less weight gain.

7. Easy to consume in multiple ways

Because its high protein and contains so many nutrients, plus has an inviting texture, Greek yogurt is increasingly popular and added to many recipes as long as one is not allergic.

The most typical ways to use Greek yogurt is consuming with fresh fruit and granola for an easy breakfast. You can also add to a fruit smoothie, along with a protein powder, for improved creaminess.

Greek yogurt also adds that same creaminess to soups, curries and more. Consider topping your chili, baked potato or oatmeal with it.

Risks and Side Effects

Some people can tolerate dairy products well, while others have strong reactions to lactose, casein or other compounds found in dairy that cause them to experience symptoms like acne, diarrhea, bloating and gas.

Conventional dairy farms often use added growth hormones to boost the cows’ production of milk. Even without added hormones, dairy naturally contains some hormones, which can be problematic for people prone to hormonal imbalances.

Casein, the other dominant dairy protein other than whey, is capable of triggering an immune response in the form of a histamine reaction, which leads to inflammation, swelling and other signs of allergies.

For people with sensitive digestive systems, lactose, whey or casein can affect the gut in the same way that food allergens like gluten do.


  • Greek yogurt is a type of fermented and strained dairy product. It is relatively low in calories but high in protein, plus is excellent source of probiotics, vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, selenium and phosphorus.
  • Health benefits of Greek yogurt include providing gut-friendly microbes called probiotics, assisting in digestion (for some people), supporting muscle recovery and aiding in bone health.
  • The best type of Greek yogurts are those made from milk of grass-fed cows that were raised on organic pasture. Be sure it’s free of added sugar and artificial sweeteners and additives.

More Nutrition