The Clean Plates Greek Yogurt Taste Test: We Tried Them All and Found the Very Best

By Candace Nagy
|
June 15, 2022
greek yogurt with granola and berries

There’s some debate when it comes to the origin of Greek yogurt and what actually deems a yogurt “Greek.” Much like French law protects the name Champagne, allowing the name only to appear on labels of sparkling wine produced under traditional methods and using grapes grown in its namesake region, Greece too has battled to protect a name that has been both their success and bane when it came to the marketing of what practically the whole world now recognizes as “Greek yogurt.” What is not up for debate is Greek yogurt’s thick, creamy, and nutrient-dense profile that nutritionists say is exceptionally good for the gut.

Read next: 8 Delicious Ways to Use Greek Yogurt in the Kitchen

So back in 2016, the European Parliament declared that “‘Greek yogurt’ refers to a particular production method [and] the designation is not protected and may be used outside Greece, provided that consumers are not misled about the place of origin.” What they were referencing is the traditional method of straining the yogurt to remove the whey (the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained) that results in a tangier taste and thicker consistency, or what the Greeks call “straggisto,” and what we call “Greek yogurt.” 

Brands like Fage and Chobani introduced Greek yogurts to the U.S., exponentially rising from holding a relatively small share of the yogurt market to nearly 50% in 2020. That’s a huge leap — especially for a yogurt that’s been around since the Ottoman Empire.

So why has Greek yogurt gotten this popular?

“A trending topic over the past couple of years has been gut health, and Greek yogurt has been highly notable amongst foods that can aid in this, given its probiotics, the bacterial strains that we need in the gut,” says Patricia Kolesa, MS, RDN. “Having a good balance of probiotics and prebiotics in the gut can help us better fight off bacterial infections like E.coli and prevent us from having constipation.”

When it comes to Greek yogurts, the probiotics (or bacteria), are often listed under the ingredients on the nutrition label as live cultures or active cultures, and can vary depending on the brand. Most Greek yogurt brands have anywhere from four to six live cultures, typically including L. acidophilus and Streptococcus thermophilus, among others. These names may look and sound confusing, but what’s more important is their role in enhancing the gut microbiota, a collection of bacteria in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that can strengthen and protect our bones, prevent digestive problems, and even boost the immune system.

It’s not just good for the gut — Greek yogurt is also seriously protein-packed

And that’s not all the goods on Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is also high in protein and calcium content. “Protein can help us feel fuller while slowing down the absorption of blood sugars in the body, while calcium helps with maintaining our blood pressure and strengthening our bones. Both nutrients equally help us complete everyday activities, including exercise,” says Kolesa.

“Protein is found in every cell of the human body,” says Michelle Rauch, MS RDN. “It’s required for practically all chemical interactions in the body, and it’s involved in building muscle and repairing tissue.” One ¾ cup serving of whole milk Greek yogurt has an average of 14g of protein — just slightly under what you would get in a serving of canned light tuna.

And it’s rich in potassium

Depending on the brand, Greek yogurt can also contain up to about 350mg of potassium, an important mineral for optimal nerve, muscle, and heart health that’s especially helpful for anybody concerned with blood pressure levels and sodium intake. “Potassium-rich foods are beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure as potassium reduces the effects of sodium. As you consume more potassium-rich foods, you excrete more sodium through the kidneys. Potassium also relieves stress in your blood vessel walls, lowering blood pressure even further.” says Rauch.

So now that you know a few reasons why Greek yogurt is great for your health, you might be wondering how to choose the best among the dozens of popular brands available. We’ve done the research, taste-testing, and narrowing down this list to what we believe are the top plain, whole milk Greek yogurt choices for both our health and our palate — and they all boast zero added sugars. We’re comparing all of these by the serving, which is ¾ cup.

1. Fage Total 5% (Whole Milk) Greek Yogurt

The Fage Total brand was introduced to the U.S. in 1998, and was the first to label its containers with the term “Greek” to describe the strained nature of its yogurt. Since then, Fage has become a leader in the Greek yogurt market, offering consumers traditional Greek-style strained yogurt in whole milk fat (5%), 2%, and 0% varieties, among other, more recently introduced products, such as sour cream.

The 5% variety has a balanced, tart taste and thick, creamy texture that is synonymous with what most would expect from traditional Greek yogurt. And it’s at the top of our list for a reason — not only is the consistency spot on (this Greek brand really knows its yogurt!), but it also has high levels of calcium and protein, and uses no rBGH growth hormone or preservatives.

A peek at the label:

Calories : 160

Total Fat: 9g

Protein: 15g

Calcium: 200mg

Potassium: 260mg

2. Chobani Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt

Fage may have been the first to coin the term “Greek yogurt,” but Chobani put it on the map with a fierce marketing strategy that made it the best-selling Greek yogurt brand in just seven years. With a high focus on ethical farming and animal welfare, coupled with a traditional flavor and consistency, we’re not surprised Chobani is leading the way.

A peek at the label:

Calories: 170

Total Fat: 9g

Protein: 16g

Calcium: 170mg

Potassium: 230mg

3. Stonyfield Whole Milk Plain Organic Greek Yogurt

Stonyfield proudly calls themselves “Obsessively Organic” and to be honest, we’re a little bit obsessed ourselves with their products and practices. From yogurt cups made from plants to producing their own renewable energy, Stonyfield is doing more than just making dairy products. Though, we are glad they jumped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon. Their whole milk organic Greek yogurt may be slightly less tangy and noticeably thinner than traditional versions, but the subtle sweetness (still with zero added sugars) makes it a versatile yogurt suitable to eat plain or mixed into your favorite recipes.

A peek at the label:

Calories: 150

Total Fat: 6g

Protein: 16g

Calcium: 170mg

Potassium: 200mg

4. Wallaby Organic Aussie Greek Style Whole Milk Plain Yogurt

The name is a mouthful, and so is the yogurt itself — and we mean that in a good way. The Australian brand’s take on Greek-style yogurt is what they call “deliciously different.” We think it leans more European style, with a thinner texture, but it’s still pleasantly less tangy, perhaps even a bit sweet. We’re already dreaming of piling it high with berries and granola.

A peek at the label:

Calories: 160

Total Fat: 8g

Protein: 15g

Calcium: 180mg

Potassium: 240mg

5. Straus Organic Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt

Hold on to your taste buds: Straus’ Greek yogurt is seriously sharp — as in very, very tart. And it doesn’t have much of a thick consistency. Still, we love the surprising hit of acidity that would work well in savory dips like tzatziki, in addition to its supercharged calcium and potassium levels. The brand also gives us all the eco-friendly feels by remaining committed to its environmentalist roots almost 100 years later through its strict organic and carbon-neutral farming methods.

A peek at the label:

Calories: 190

Total Fat: 10g

Protein: 13g

Calcium: 261mg

Potassium: 343mg

Read next: What’s the Difference Between Greek Yogurt and Regular Yogurt?

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