The following account is written by Raquel Wingel, a Ball State University Dietetic Intern.
You, me, and everyone with a spoon has joined the thick yogurt revolution. Lately, Icelandic yogurt has started stealing the attention that Greek yogurt once received. Have you caught yourself wondering, “What is all the fuss about Iceland and their yogurt?”
You are not alone.
Let me explain:
Icelandic yogurt, or as the Icelanders like to refer to it, Skyr (pronounced “skeer”), is a very high protein, and low in fat and sugar yogurt – it is more of a cheese than a yogurt because of the way Skyr is made.
It is made with 4 times the amount of skim milk than any other yogurt and is combined with live active cultures. The liquid is strained off, strained off some more…more…okay, now you have Icelandic yogurt!
The unique history:
Back in the 800s, Skyr was brought to Iceland by the Norwegian Vikings when they first settled, and I know what you’re thinking, “What? Vikings invented a yogurt?”
(Apparently, the Vikings had more skills then just their advanced seafaring skills.)
Although, the Vikings couldn’t keep the Skyr alive in their homeland of Scandinavia, it lived on in Iceland and has been enjoyed to this very day as one of Iceland’s most traditional cuisines.
My yogurt journey:
If you were a yogurt-eater growing up in America in the 90s like me, then you know what it was like to consume a watery, gelatinous, aspartame-tasting substance yogurt.
Ever since I entered the field of nutrition (5 years ago), I have been on the hunt for a healthy yogurt that provides the right kind of balance – low in sugar, low in fat, and high in protein.
I’ve become quite the recreational yogurt connoisseur since I essentially eat yogurt almost every day.
I was one of the many who hopped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon (or shall I say donkey) as I find it is pretty healthy and better than aspartame-filled yogurts.
However, about three years ago, I discovered this ancient-style, but mysteriously new yogurt on the shelves, known as Icelandic yogurt. Being the yogurt snob that I am, I figured I had to see what it was like.
I’ve been eating it religiously ever since.
So here’s the yogurt smack-down:
Icelandic yogurt has a creamy and thick texture and doesn’t have Greek’s characteristic sour taste. It actually has a sweet taste to it, but with less sugar and more protein that the alternative. Plus, with some sort of Viking black magic, it’s entirely fat free!
But how does Icelandic yogurt stack up against its competitors?
Let’s take a look:
Plain Icelandic yogurt (per 170 g): 100 calories, 19 grams of protein, 3 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fat
Plain Greek yogurt (per 170 g): 100 calories, 17 grams of protein, 7 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fat
Plain yogurt (per 170 g): 95 calories, 9 grams of protein, 13 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fat
I finally found my healthy balanced yogurt.
If this sounds like your type of yogurt, the American-made Icelandic yogurt can be found in a variety of flavors and most commonly available in grocery stores by two brands Siggi’s (made in New York by an Icelandic immigrant named Siggi) and Smári (made in California by an Icelandic immigrant named…you guessed it… Smári).
Skyr is also high in calcium and vitamin D and provides you with all the other vital nutrients found in milk. It helps keep your bones strong and healthy!
For those of you cursed with lactose intolerance; you may actually tolerate Icelandic yogurt since it has strained away most of the lactose.
It has been quite the revelation over the years. Yogurt doesn’t have to be full of chemicals and sugar to be a yogurt anymore. We have Greece to thank for the Greek yogurt revolution – changing people’s views on yogurt and being the inspiration for this new generation of high-protein ‘origin’ yogurts.
This is not to say that I no longer like Greek yogurt or that you shouldn’t continue to eat that. I still have a love for Greek yogurts, but Skyr is a newfound love.
Icelandic yogurt is still not as well known yet in America, but it’s definitely been getting more attention.
If you are looking for the most protein bang for your caloric buck, why not take a chance on the Icelanders and Vikings, too?