Skyr Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Skyr

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When you think of Nordic foods, your thoughts may turn to pickled herring, lingonberries, and Swedish pancakes. But another traditional northern European food has made its way onto the refrigerator shelves of American households: skyr. This strained yogurt has been made in Iceland for over a thousand years. Now, it’s gaining popularity in the U.S. for its wealth of probiotics, its low sugar, and its substantial protein content.

Skyr—pronounced “skeer,” or sometimes with two syllables as “ski-er"—makes a smart addition to any diet that includes dairy and can serve as a substitute for Greek yogurt in most recipes. Though its tangy, almost sour taste may take some getting used to, it’s worth giving a try for its health benefits.

Skyr Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 150g (or 5.3 oz.) of plain traditional Icelandic skyr.

Skyr Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 70.5mg
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 6g
  • Protein: 17g

Carbs

Unsweetened skyr contains minimal carbohydrates at just 6g per serving. And while it may seem alarming that the entirety of skyr’s carbohydrate content comes from sugar, this actually isn’t cause for concern. These sugars are merely from the naturally occurring lactose in milk. Watch for additional carbohydrates in any varieties of skyr that have added sweetener or fruit.

Fats

In its traditional Icelandic preparation, skyr is made with the milk left over after separating out fat solids to make butter. Because it’s made from this type of skim milk, many varieties of skyr contain no fat at all. Sometimes, however, cream is added during processing, which accounts for the minimal fat you may see on some skyr nutrition labels.

Protein

One of skyr’s major selling points is its high protein content. In just 5.3 oz., you can expect to take in 17g of protein. (For reference, the Daily Value of protein is 50g.)

Vitamins and Minerals

Like most dairy products, skyr is an excellent source of calcium, with 200mg (20% of your daily recommended intake) in a 5.3 oz serving. Depending on the milk used as a starter for the yogurt, it may be high in vitamin D, too. You’ll also get significant amounts of phosphorus, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 in each serving.

Health Benefits

Not only is skyr an excellent source of protein, but it also has many other benefits.

Boosts Bone Health

Getting enough calcium through dairy foods like skyr really “does a body good” as the milk commercials used to say. Calcium plays a major role in bone health. Consuming plenty of it through skyr makes a great choice.

Helps Cardiovascular and Muscular Function

It’s not just your bones that benefit from calcium. Your heart, muscles, and nerves all need calcium to function properly. Some research indicates that a calcium-rich diet may even protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

Provides Protein Without Added Saturated Fat

Skyr’s sizable dose of protein also contributes to a healthy daily total without the added saturated fat you’ll find in many other high-protein foods like meats and more highly processed foods. 

Builds a Healthy Microbiome

Because of the fermentation process used to make skyr, it’s quite high in probiotics, which benefit the microbiome—the sum of good bacteria within your intestinal tract. A healthy microbiome has been linked to better digestive health, reduced risk of obesity, and even lower rates of depression.

Many experts now believe that consuming probiotics through food is preferable to taking them in pill form. So you can feel good about eating fermented foods like skyr every day. 

Allergies

People with a known allergy to the dairy proteins casein or whey should avoid skyr, since it is made from milk. However, the straining process used to make skyr removes about 90% of its lactose, so many people with lactose intolerance are able to eat it without the intestinal discomfort they might normally experience after eating dairy products. If you’re lactose intolerant, start with small amounts of skyr to see how your body responds to it.

Adverse Effects

Although skyr is a healthy food for most people, those taking certain medications also need to keep it off the menu. The probiotics in yogurt can interfere with some antibiotics and drugs that depress the immune system. Talk to your doctor about any dietary restrictions that accompany your medications.

Varieties

Skyr and Greek yogurt resemble each other closely in texture and taste. Since skyr is strained more thoroughly than Greek yogurt, it contains more protein, ounce for ounce. A 5.3 oz. serving of nonfat plain Greek yogurt contains 15g protein, two grams less than skyr’s 17g.

Because of its thickness and lower water content, skyr is also slightly higher in calories than Greek yogurt. As for calcium, the two are fairly comparable, at 15% of your daily value in a serving of Greek yogurt and 20% in skyr. 

There’s one more point of comparison that may attract your notice: cost. Because of its smaller market share, skyr is frequently more expensive than Greek yogurt.

How to Prepare

Skyr can stand in for regular or Greek yogurt in just about any recipe or preparation. Use skyr to start your day with a healthy breakfast parfait or smoothie bowl. When recipes for baked goods call for yogurt, experiment with skyr instead.

In creamy casseroles or mac and cheese, skyr can add a pleasing tangy taste. Or, to cut back on calories and fat on baked potatoes or Mexican foods, sub skyr for sour cream. If you find skyr’s texture to be too thick for a particular recipe, try thinning it with a little milk.

Recipes

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