Better Choices: Greek Yogurt vs. Mayonnaise

While homemade mayonnaise from whole foods ingredients can definitely be a healthy addition to your diet, store-bought mayos come with rancid oils and artificial ingredients that are best avoided. A far healthier and easy alternative is plain, whole Greek yogurt. 

Why to Avoid Store-Bought Mayonnaise 

If mayonnaise is made with healthy and natural ingredients, it can actually provide a great deal of nutrition. Unfortunately, with store-bought mayo this is definitely not the case. The primary ingredient in most commercially prepared mayonnaises is soybean oil or another type of rancid vegetable oil. They are also fairly high in sodium, and many include artificial ingredients that are best avoided. 

While you can also make a healthy, homemade mayonnaise alternative at home by combining extra virgin olive oil, pastured egg yolks, lemon juice, a touch of salt and mustard powder, Greek yogurt also makes for a perfect alternative.  

What is Greek Yogurt? 

Various types of yogurts are healthy (the ones that are full fat, plain and don’t include added sugars and a long list of artificial ingredients), but Greek yogurt works well as a replacement for mayonnaise because of its thick texture. 

Greek yogurt is simply regular yogurt that has been strained to remove its whey content, one of the primary proteins found in dairy (the other being casein). Whey is the watery part of the milk and is removed via a simple process of suspending regular yogurt over a bowl in a cheesecloth or piece of fabric and left for several hours, waiting for the liquid way to drip through. The end product is a rich, creamy yogurt that has a similar taste to other yogurts. 

When the whey is strained, the yogurt also loses a lot of its milk sugars (lactose), meaning that Greek yogurt ends up being significantly higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than regular yogurt. It is also higher in calories. 

Health Benefits of Greek Yogurt 

While some of the health benefits of Greek yogurt as the same or similar to those of regular yogurt, it has certain benefits that are unique. 

Excellent Protein Source 

One serving (about 3.5 ounces) of regular yogurt offers about 3 grams of protein, while Greek yogurt offers 9 grams. This makes is a great protein source, especially for those who don’t eat meat. Getting plenty of protein in the diet has been shown to boost weight loss by increasing the body’s metabolic rate. 

Good Low-Carb Food 

As mentioned above, since much of the lactose content of yogurt is removed in the straining of whey protein, the carb count on Greek yogurt is decreased by about 2 grams per serving. If you are following a lower-carbohydrate diet model, Greek yogurt is a great snack or meal addition. However, be aware that this only applies to plain Greek yogurt, as many brands add sugars which dramatically increase their carb count (stick to whole Greek yogurt, as most low-fat options have added sugars).  

Supports Digestive Health 

Both regular and Greek yogurt are fermented foods, which are important to include regularly in your diet for digestive health. Yogurt tops the list of fermented food options (along with raw sauerkraut and kombucha tea, for example), and it is packed full of good gut bacteria (AKA, probiotics). 

Balanced gut flora have been linked to an improved immune system and decreased risk of disease. 

Which Greek Yogurt Should You Choose? 

Not all Greek yogurts are created equal, and many contain artificial ingredients and added sugars. Some brands are also made by simply adding thickeners to regular yogurt, and neither of these two options offer the same health benefits as the real thing. Opt for a brand that is whole, plain Greek yogurt without additional ingredients. Add a touch of raw honey or grade b maple syrup (or even better, fresh fruit), for added sweetness, if desired. 

How to Substitute Greek Yogurt for Mayonnaise 

The good news is, it couldn’t be simpler! Just substitute whole, plain Greek yogurt (low fat works too, but no added sugars), for mayonnaise as your recipe calls for. That’s it.  

Salmon Salad with Greek Yogurt Recipe

Try this easy and quick salmon salad using greek yogurt instead of mayo. It’s a great lunch option for the entire family, and you’ll get a serious boost of nutrients. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 can wild salmon (wild tuna works too) 
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped 
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • pinch of mustard powder 
  • 1/4 tsp. dill powder 
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • Any other veggies of your choice (lettuce, cucumber, carrot, etc) 

Instructions: 

  1. Combine all ingredients and enjoy!