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Skyr: The Icelandic Yoghurt with Several Health Benefits

Our thoughts immediately turn to pickle herrings, Swedish pancakes, and lingonberries when we think of nordic foods. However, another traditional northern European food is gaining popularity in American households. It is skyr. This is a strained yoghurt that people in Iceland have been eating for thousands of years. It is a dairy product similar to yoghurt. However, it is slightly different and holds beneficial nutrients, positively impacting human health.

Dairy products are full of essential nutrients and minerals. In today’s world, we can choose from a variety of dairy products to consume for various health benefits. There seem to be a limitless amount of options, whether it’s the several yoghurt brands or the expanding number of plant-based alternatives. Skyr is a yoghurt variety that is becoming increasingly popular. But what exactly is this creamy, delectable concoction? Is skyr genuinely nutritious? Let us find out.

Skyr is made using ancestral Icelandic culture and milk. Although it has a similar texture as yoghurt, it has a milder flavour. Many people consider it identical to sour milk cheese made using fresh milk. People eat it in Baltic nations, Germany and Russia like curd cheese. However, it is gaining popularity worldwide in America and other countries due to its health benefits.

Skyr, pronounced ‘Skeer’, is a smart addition to any diet that allows the consumption of dairy products. Many people use it as a substitute for Greek yoghurt in most recipes. It has the same colour as traditional yoghurt. However, it is tangy, almost sour and has a rich creamier texture than conventional yoghurt. In addition, it is also thicker than yoghurt. 

For ages, skyr has been a staple of Icelandic cuisine. Despite its tanginess and sour taste, it is worth trying for its health benefits. Skyr is rich in probiotics and has low sugar. In addition, the high milk content in Skyr makes it more protein-rich than yoghurt. It is usually served chilled, either solo or with cream. Due to its emerging demand, several manufacturers are selling flavoured skyr with flavours like vanilla, coffee, and fruits.

Skyr: Manufacturing Process

The process starts with removing the cream from the milk and making it skimmed.The skimmed milk goes into the process of pasteurisationThen comes the pasteurised milk fermentation using a skyr culture for eight hours.The skyr culture contains particular yoghurt cultures and a small amount of rennet. The rennet is cheese and not yoghurt.Then the fermented milk goes into filtration. Finally, people can use additional steps like adding flavours, such as fruit flavours, vanilla, coffee, cane sugar, etc. However, it naturally has a hint of residual sweetness. So, it is best not to add any sugar.

Nutritional Properties of Skyr

As per USDA, one hundred grams of plain traditional skyr contains the following nutrients.

Energy: 73 KcalProtein: 11.33 gTotal Fat: 1.33 gCarbohydrates: 4 gSugar: 0 gCalcium: 133 mg

The nutritional properties of skyr show that it is a low-calorie food that offers a high amount of proteins and calcium. It provides nearly twice the amount of protein as conventional low-fat yoghurt. In addition, it has a low-fat and carbohydrate content, making it a healthy food choice. The low-fat and high-protein content of skyr makes it a healthy option for people. Furthermore, it has a delicious flavour that people love. So, skyr is an excellent choice if you want to consume a taste-rich food with low calories and high-protein content.

The HealthifyMe Note

With 11.33 grams of protein per 100 grams, Skyr is an excellent source of protein for you. Furthermore, its calcium content makes it healthy for your bones and teeth. With fewer carb content and low calories, skyr is a healthy choice that you should incorporate into your meals.

Health Benefits of Skyr

Weight Management and Fat Loss

The nutritional properties of skyr are evident to prove its weight-management attributes. It is low in calories and high in proteins. In addition, it requires 3-4 times more milk than traditional yoghurt production, meaning 3-4 times extra milk nutrition. Dairy products are a rich source of nutrients and bioactive compounds. As a result, they are an important modifiable factor for managing healthy body weight and composition. 

Studies suggest that dietary calcium can potentially increase faecal fat excretion to the extent that could be relevant for the prevention of weight (re-)gain. In addition, other research shows that dairy protein helps regulate appetite, help manage weight and prevent weight gain. 

A study states that dairy protein can stimulate diet-induced thermogenesis. As a result, it increases your metabolism and helps you burn more calories after meals. Furthermore, research also shows that dairy protein keeps you full for a long time. It further states that high protein meals reduce subsequent calorie intake, leading to weight loss.

Promotes Heart Health

Since skyr contains a high amount of milk, it is a rich source of potassium and other vital minerals. As per research, higher potassium intake can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 24%. In addition, it reduces blood cholesterol levels, which is a significant risk for heart diseases. Another research on Japanese individuals discovered a 14% reduction in heart disease fatalities.

Research shows potassium in dairy products like skyr can help decrease blood pressure. For example, in individuals with high blood pressure, three servings of dairy per day resulted in a considerable reduction in systolic blood pressure. Besides these, minerals such as calcium, potassium, & magnesium are beneficial to heart health.

Healthy for the Bones

Skyr is abundant in calcium, which is an essential nutrient. Your bones and teeth contain the majority of your body’s calcium. While collagen is the major structural component of your bones, calcium and phosphate work together to make them strong and dense. 

According to research, calcium consumption increases bone density and development in children and teens. However, as you age, your bones lose density, resulting in porous bones and the development of osteoporosis. As per studies, calcium supplementation protects and prevents bone loss.

Although you can get calcium from several foods, one serving of skyr can give 20% of the daily required amount.

Regulates Blood Sugar

Skyr is rich in proteins and has a low carbohydrate content. Hence, it aids blood sugar regulation. When you consume carbohydrates, your body breaks them down into glucose to generate energy. However, when you consume excess amounts of carbohydrates, it may elevate your blood sugar levels. Hence, a low-carb food like skyr is healthy for regulating sugar. In addition, protein consumption inhibits glucose absorption,enhancing glucose management and control.

Researchers believe that substituting carbohydrates with proteins improves blood sugar management substantially.

Best Ways to Eat Skyr

Traditionally, people in Iceland serve skyr with a pinch of sugar. However, eating it raw without any sugar is a healthier option. With emerging demand, manufacturers are selling flavoured skyr. But, it usually comes with added sugar. In addition, people also serve it with fruits or jams to add sweetness. Furthermore, people use it in several dishes like flatbreads, frittatas, puddings, etc. You can also eat it as desserts, cheesecake toppings, fruit smoothies and other yoghurt recipes.

Here are some of the healthy recipes that you can try.

Smoothie with Cherry Blossoms

Ingredients

Vanilla Skyr: ⅔ cupFrozen Cherries: 1 cupMilk or milk alternate: ¼ cup

Preparation

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender.Add ⅓ cup ice if using fresh cherries. You can also add honey to your taste.

Nordic Bowl

Ingredients

Skyr: 2 cups Wild Berries: 2 cupsLemon, juice, and peel: 1Honey: 1 tbspNuts: A HandfulBuckwheat: As per taste

Topping

Nuts Honey Buckwheat

Instructions

Combine the berries, honey, lemon peel, and juice in a saucepan and saute them,Allow cooling for fifteen minutes without covering.In a dish, combine the Skyr and the wild berry sauce.Serve with honey and almonds.

Icelandic Berry Skyr Cake

Ingredients

Biscuit Crust: ½ Biscuit Package (e.g. cinnamon biscuits or whole-grain butter biscuits). You should take enough to fill the baking tin’s bottom.Butter: 50 g

Filling

Skyr: 250gVanilla Skyr: 250 gCream: 500 ml

Topping

Blueberries: 1 pack of blueberries or ½ jar of blueberry jam (approx 250g)

Method: 

Crush your biscuits, melt the butter, and combine in a circular 24cm cake mouldWhip the creamBlend the skyr into the cream gradually Spread the milk and skyr mixture on the biscuit crust, then spread the jam on top and top with the berries.Set aside for 2 hours until serving.

The HealthifyMe Note

Skyr has several nutrients that benefit your health. It also helps improve bone and cardiovascular health, weight reduction, and blood sugar regulation. Furthermore, it has a high protein content with low carbohydrate and fat levels.. Skyr is a nutrient-dense meal that you can incorporate into nearly any diet.

Skyr vs Greek Yoghurt

Greek yoghurt and skyr share a similar carbohydrate, sugar and iron content. However, here is what differentiates them.Bacterial Cultures: The primary difference between skyr and Greek yoghurt is the bacterial cultures used in their production. Unlike Greek yoghurt, skyr fermentation requires particular yoghurt cultures and a small amount of Rennet.Flavour: The flavour of both these foods is distinctly different. Unlike Greek yoghurt, skyr has a sweeter taste.Thickness: Greek yoghurt is slightly thinner than skyr. Hence, it does not have a cheese-like texture.Protein: Skyr contains more protein content than yoghurt. One hundred grams of skyr offers 11.33 grams of protein, whereas one hundred grams of yoghurt offers only 3.5 grams of protein.

Is Skyr Healthy for Everyone?

Skyr offers several health benefits. However, it may not benefit everyone. Here are some of the reasons.

Since skyr is a dairy product, people with casein sensitivity should avoid it. In addition, you should also avoid it if you have a whey allergy. Whey and casein are proteins found in milk. If people allergic to whey and casein consume lactose, they may experience allergic reactions to skyr and other dairy products. Some of the symptoms include bloating, diarrhoea and anaphylaxis.

Furthermore, lactose-intolerant people should be careful about consuming skyr. If you already have lactose intolerance, determining if you can handle skyr is a trial and error process. Although the straining process eliminates 90% of lactose content from skyr, it is best to start with a tiny dosage to see if your body can take it. If straining does not eliminate all the lactose content, you may experience stomach discomfort and other digestive issues after consuming lactose-containing foods.

The HealthifyMe Note

Everyone has a different body type, and everybody has different needs and tolerance levels. Hence, no foods can have the same effect on everyone. The same is with Skyr. Although it is a healthy choice for most people, lactose intolerant and people with a whey allergy should not consume it as it can lead to adverse health effects.

Precautions

Allergies

It is possible to have an allergic reaction to skyr. If you are allergic to dairy, you should avoid feta cheese. You should consult a doctor if you experience symptoms like diarrhoea, bloating, or shortness of breath.

Medication

Probiotics in skyr can interact with some antibiotics and drugs. Talk to your doctor beforehand about possible drug interactions.

The Conclusion

Skyr is a famous dairy product in Iceland. It’s manufactured by infusing bacteria cultures into skim milk and squeezing the whey out. It has a low-calorie count but is abundant in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is high in protein, which might help you lose weight by increasing fullness and lowering hunger. In addition, it is high in calcium, an essential element that helps prevent bone resorption and osteoporosis. 

Skyr and other dairy products reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart diseases. It is a high-protein, low-carb food. This combination may aid with blood sugar management. However, because skyr contains milk, it may create problems for people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk. Skyr is generally served with sugar and milk, although you can also consume it in other ways.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is skyr healthier than yoghurt?

A. Relative to traditional low-fat yoghurt, skyr seems to be a little rich in calories and has about twice the protein. It has a similar amount of fat and is marginally lower in carbs. Skyr is more satiating because of the protein content, and the creamy texture gives it a delicious flavour without adding calories or fats. Each skyr tub provides more protein than the same size tub of yoghurt. Therefore, it is ideal for anyone on a low-carb or paleo diet looking for a simple method to increase their protein intake. Skyr includes 19g protein but only 61 calories every 170g tub.

Q. How much skyr should I eat a day?

A. Although no guideline determines an upper limit to skyr consumption, you should consume it in moderation. That is because eating anything in excess can lead to side effects. You should monitor the amount of dairy consumed daily since excessive consumption may have side effects like weight gain, risk of cardiovascular diseases, rise in blood cholesterol etc.  Galactose, a type of sugar found in yoghurt, is also potentially associated with ovarian cancer.

Q. Which is better for you, skyr or Greek yoghurt?

A. Skyr has a greater protein content than Greek yoghurt, accounting for some of its higher calorie content. Although exact amounts vary, a six-ounce serve of plain non-fat skyr has 19 grams of protein. Conversely, plain Greek yoghurt has one gram less protein per six-ounce serving, at 18 grams.

Q. Is skyr a probiotic?

A. Yes, skyr is a probiotic. The process of skyr manufacturing involves fermentation. Therefore, it contains live bacteria, making it a probiotic. Probiotics have numerous health benefits like improved digestive and intestinal health, weight loss, better immune system etc.

Q. Is skyr good for weight loss?

A. Skyr is high in proteins and low in carbohydrates, making it healthy for weight loss. Proteins keep you satiated for a long time and help you lose weight. In addition, dairy calcium from skyr prevents you from regaining weight and burns fat. The creamy texture of skyr also keeps you full. Moreover, the low-calorie content of skyr also adds to weight loss. 

Q. Is skyr a Superfood?

A. Skyr has been a staple of Icelandic cuisine for years. However, it has started gaining popularity in the US and other countries because of its health benefits. Its low sugar, calorie and carbohydrate content makes it beneficial. In addition, the high protein content makes it even healthier. Hence, it can be considered a superfood. 

Q. Is skyr inflammatory?

A. Since foods dairy products like yoghurt and plain unsweetened skyr contain live cultures that make them probiotic, they possess anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, they may protect humans against dangerous gut bacteria byproducts. Hence, skyr is not inflammatory.

Q. Does skyr make you fat?

A. Skyr is a fat-free product. However, people usually add cream during manufacturing, increasing the fat level. But, the high protein content of skyr, along with its low sugar and carbohydrate content, does not make you fat if you eat it in moderation. 

Q. How many calories are in skyr?

A. Skyr is a low-calorie food. One hundred grams of skyr offers only 73 calories. Its low-calorie content makes it a perfect addition to your diet.

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