All things Greek: The battle of the healthy yogurts

India’s prominent nutritionist decodes the fine print behind Drums Food International’s Epigamia and Nestle’s a+ Grekyo.

Updated: August 1, 2016 6:27 pm

The battle for the ‘healthiest’ Greek yogurt has finally begun in India with two companies, Drums Food International, and now Nestle, offering their products in an increasingly price-sensitive market.

While Greek Yogurt isn’t Greek to us, the regular consumer still has questions about the benefits of a product that’s still at a nascent stage in India. What started as a trend in some western countries a decade back, is only catching up in a price-sensitive market such as ours. Yes, it has more protein than the regular dahi, but what else?

We decided to decode the fine print behind Drums Food International’s ‘Epigamia’ and Nestle’s a+ Grekyo by asking one of India’s prominent nutritionists to review it for us. “By consuming a simple serving of dahi/yogurt, we can ensure that the good bacteria remain present in the gut in adequate numbers. That’s why it’s really no surprise to see that the market is booming with healthy dahi/yogurt and its variants,” explains Nutritionist Neelanjana Singh, President, Indian Dietetics Association, Delhi Chapter and Nutrition Therapist for New Delhi’s PSRI Hospital.

Excerpts from the review:

What’s special about Greek Yogurt?
I have always been a votary of the traditional Indian diet, which is wholesome and balanced. One of the reasons why I consider it so is because it almost always includes a daily dose of the friendly bacteria in the form of dahi, raita, lassi or chaach.

With the passage of time, scientific studies have only strengthened the evidence that the friendly bacteria in our gut can play a crucial role in wellness. By consuming a simple serving of dahi/yogurt, we can ensure that the good bacteria remain present in the gut in adequate numbers.

EPIGAMIA3

That’s why it’s really no surprise to see that the market is booming with healthy dahi/yogurt and its variants. There is so much variety in this segment all of a sudden that it is possible that you may have missed the launch of the two premium brands- Epigamia and a+Grekyo. These brands of greek yogurt are available at upmarket grocery stores across the metros such as Nature’s Basket.

The uniqueness of Epigamia greek yogurt is that it contains no preservatives and artificial flavours and has a truly natural taste. Real fruit pulp is used and some amount of sugar is added to it. The other competitive brands contain additives and preservatives, which is also a scoring point for this brand of yogurt. Moreover, this product is free from chemicals that are often used in industrial preparations to thicken it. It is also nutrient dense. A 90g serve of Epigamia greek yogurt provides 140mg calcium and and 6g of protein. The live culture of bacteria (contains S.Thermophilus, Lactobacilus bulgaris), mentioned among the ingredients, lends it a unique, mildly tangy unique flavour. The acidity of the product is controlled by arresting the fermentation process (by freezing) and additionally by removing the whey water.

Nestle’s a+Grekyo was launched in the Indian market a few months ago in the fruity variants of strawberry, mango, pineapple and orange. The nutrient profile for protein in a+Grekyo is marginally lower, but it is higher in Calcium content as compared with Epigamia. A 100g pack of a+Grekyo contains 5.8g of protein and 204mg of Calcium. In a+Greyko, bits of real fruit have been added (as opposed to fruit pulp in Epigamia). This brand, however, does not mention the culture strains of bacteria used in preparation. The use of added flavor, colour and preservatives is mentioned on the label.

What is it that really sets Greek yogurt from the Indian yogurt or dahi?
Greek yogurt is a thicker and smoother version of our dahi. It involves the draining of excess whey water, which lends it the thicker consistency. This is then followed by mechanised mixing so that it becomes smooth and creamy.

Nestle’s a+Grekyo was launched in the Indian market a few months ago in the fruity variants of strawberry, mango, pineapple and orange. Nestle’s a+Grekyo was launched in the Indian market a few months ago in the fruity variants of strawberry, mango, pineapple and orange.

Greek yogurt is a nutrient dense food. To get an equivalent amount of protein from regular dahi, one would need to consume double the quantity (approx. 200g). It is a tasty yet healthy product that contains the nutrients that we typically fall short on (protein and calcium). The value of such a product is that it can serve as a snack, an accompaniment or even a dessert. I think it makes for a perfect snack option in between meals when hunger strikes and one lunges for the ubiquitous chips or samosas.

A couple of things that are my concerns with Greek yogurt products: The whey water that is removed to make it creamier and thicker bothers me. As a nutritionist, I would hate to waste the whey, which happens to rich in B Vitamins, Calcium and amino acids. Traditionally, whey water has had many uses and I am now waiting to see the next health drink marketed as fruit-flavoured whey water!

I am despondent that our shrikhand has not been marketed in the same stylish way, so we could have been proud of an Indian product going global. I am inclined to believe that the mango shrikhand that I have regularly at my Gujarati friend’s place every summer is just as good as Greek yogurt.

All in all, both brands of Greek yogurt serve as health food options everyone can consider. Some novel variants have been created by Epigamia brand of yogurt. I found the Minty Chaat and Mulberry flavours to be quite unique and tasty. The lower sugar content in the savoury variant makes it even more sought after by health aficionados.

Nestle India claims that a+ Grekyo has 70 per cent more protein and 30 per cent more calcium than a+ toned Dahi.

Nestle a+ Grekyo: All variants cost Rs 30. It’s available in Strawberry, Mango, Pineapple and Orange flavour. 

Epigamia: Except for the natural flavour (Rs 35), all other flavoured variants cost Rs 38.

All views expressed in the story are that of the nutritionist.