Skyr, the Viking super food: what it is, nutritional values, benefits, differences with Greek yogurt

Skyr, the Viking super food: what it is, nutritional values, benefits, differences with Greek yogurt

Perhaps you have already seen the Skyr in the fridge section of the supermarket, or you have found it as an ingredient in some sweet or savory recipes. Due to its properties it is very versatile in the kitchen. What is it? What’s the difference with yogurt? How to use it?

It is a dairy product, i.e. derived from the processing of milk. What makes the difference between yoghurt, kefir, Skyr and cheese is the production process.

And it is precisely the processing method that makes Skyr such a valuable food from a nutritional point of view. Due to its characteristics, it is chosen by sportsmen as a light but at the same time proteinic snack. And it is a valid substitute for yogurt in numerous recipes. Read on to learn about all the properties, the recipe for making it at home and how to use it in the kitchen.

What is Skyr, between yogurt and cheese

It is a dairy product of Icelandic origin which is obtained from the processing of cow’s milk. It is white in color and its texture is soft and creamy. In appearance it is therefore very similar to yogurt, or a spreadable cheese.

Known as the cheese of the Icelanders, Skyr was known to the Scandinavian populations as early as the Middle Ages. Today it is chosen for its nutritional qualities (low in fat and rich in protein) by athletes, or by those who want to keep an eye on their figure.

Similarly to yogurt, it is very versatile in the kitchen. It is often eaten for breakfast, in fruit bowls, or with the addition of muesli. It is ideal for light mid-morning snacks. And it finds space in both sweet and savory recipes.

But before discovering how to use Skyr in the kitchen, let’s find out how it is produced and what are the advantages of including it in our diet.

Production method

Skyr is prepared from skimmed cow’s milk, not whole, as is the case for the other two types of dairy products, yoghurt and soft cheeses. The end result will be a leaner product. In comparison, Skyr has fewer kcal and fat and is richer in protein.

To obtain the desired density, proceed by adding rennet (coagulation of caseins) and lactic ferments (acidification with lactobacteria), similarly to the procedure for yogurt or cheese.

After all, Skyr is actually a cream cheese, not a yogurt!

In the traditional manufacturing method, it is poured onto a fine-mesh cloth to allow the whey to be eliminated. This process eliminates most of the lactose contained in the food (it is a water-soluble sugar, abundant in whey). This helps to make this cheese more digestible, even if Skyr cannot be considered a completely lactose-free food.

Skyr calories and nutritional values

At this point you may be curious to know more about the nutritional values ​​of the Skyr. How many kcal does it have? How many g of protein? What about fat?

In general it is a protein food, low in fat and simple sugars. Therefore suitable for the nutrition of athletes and those who want to lose weight. It has a good content of vitamins and mineral salts, especially that portion of microelements useful for the well-being of bones, muscles and the immune system.

It is in fact an excellent source of vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus, which help keep teeth and bones healthy, and prevent the development of osteoporosis. While it also contains a good dose of B vitamins, which are beneficial for the nervous system; and minerals such as potassium and magnesium, which are beneficial for heart health and for improving sports performance.

Obviously we are talking about the white Skyr, natural. In fact, there are some variants of this dairy product on the market with flavourings, pieces of fruit, chocolate, caramel, or added sugars, which modify its nutritional profile.

Here are summarized for you the nutritional values ​​for 100 g of natural white Skyr, with no added sugar:

energia                     50 – 60 kcal / 100 g.

Protein 9 – 10 g / 100 g.

Grassi                         0 – 0,5 g / 100 g.

Carbohydrates 3 – 5 g / 100 g.

Source: comparison between natural white Skyr nutritional labels on the market.

Skyr: properties and benefits

Skyr has excellent nutritional values, but its benefits don’t end there. If often chosen for its low fat content and good amount of protein, this Icelandic cheese is actually a real superfood.

It has numerous properties useful for the well-being of our body in the round. That’s why we find it among functional dietary foods, meaning those foods that are positive for health, to the point of being able to even prevent the onset of certain diseases.

Let’s see in detail what are the advantages of including Skyr in your diet.

Helps restore intestinal balance

It is a dairy product obtained from the fermentation activity carried out by acidophilic and heat-resistant bacteria. It therefore contains lactic ferments, similarly to yogurt or kefir.

What are lactic ferments? Also known as probiotics, they are live microorganisms that exert a positive action to restore intestinal balance and regularity. Among these, lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, of which Skyr is really rich:

  • Streptococcus thermophilus.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus.
  • Lactobacillus Bulgaricus.
  • Bifidobacterium lactis.

But let’s take a step back! Our intestines are “inhabited” by numerous microorganisms, which coexist in balance and collaborate to keep our intestines in good health. Together these form the so-called “intestinal microbiota”.

In particular situations of stress, taking medicines, an unbalanced diet, or other causes, the balance of the species of microorganisms that live in our intestines can be lacking.

This has unfortunate consequences on the health of our digestive system, nutrient absorption processes, sugar metabolism and even our immune system.

Taking probiotics, or functional foods that contain them, such as Skyr, can help our intestines recover the lost balance. And consequently it allows us to regain intestinal regularity and good health.

Strengthens the bone structure

Skyr has a high content of calcium and phosphorus, minerals useful for bone metabolism. It can be a valid food to support the growth of children, and in particular periods of women’s lives, such as pregnancy, breastfeeding or menopause. And even in sports nutrition. But let’s go in order.

Numerous studies show that a diet rich in calcium prevents the development of osteoporosis and bone diseases. A diet poor in this mineral, on the other hand, weakens our skeletal system, depriving it of the mineral component.

Bones contain calcium reserves which we draw on if we lack in the diet, helping to reduce bone mineral density.

In senile age this process is physiological. The bones then become more fragile and prone to breaking. But a calcium-rich diet can hinder bone demineralization, preventing bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

Similarly, calcium is essential to support the diet of growing children, so that they have strong and robust bone structure. Or pregnant and breastfeeding women, for whom the daily calcium requirement increases.

Supports muscle functions

Skyr, low in fat and rich in protein, is also a valid food for sportsmen thanks to its Ca++ contribution.

In fact, calcium is not only involved in bone metabolism. This mineral is very important for the muscles: it actively contributes to regulating the mechanisms of muscle contraction and relaxation.

Offers benefits to the circulatory system

The heart is also a muscle. Skyr, rich in calcium, is certainly beneficial for our heart muscle. But the benefits of calcium for the circulatory system don’t end there.

This mineral is in fact involved in blood clotting processes. It has therefore been demonstrated that the consumption of dairy products can positively affect the health of the cardiovascular system, reducing blood pressure and the consequent risk of blood clots and atherosclerosis.

Prevents muscle catabolism

Skyr is a natural supplement of casein (or rather, of molecules belonging to the casein class). Caseins are among the most used protein supplements by sportsmen, in the gym and bodybuilding.

This is because they contain essential amino acids (EEA) in large quantities and in excellent proportions. Caseins are high biological value proteins, which offer valid support to athletes to increase muscle mass:

  • They provide the “bricks”, the amino acids, with which to build new muscle fibers.
  • They reduce muscle catabolism from effort (anti-catabolic action).
  • They help in muscle recovery following an intense workout.

In a nutshell, taking caseins – and EEA – helps athletes maximize protein synthesis post-workout.

But Skyr is not just a “gym food”. Its protein and casein content helps meet protein needs at any age and level of physical activity.

Which is better Skyr or Greek yogurt?

Skyr and Greek Yogurt are both milk derivatives, white in color and with a thick and creamy consistency. Very similar in appearance, they also show broadly similar nutritional values: they are both protein foods, low in fat and sugar.

There is no better or worse food. But if you’re following a low-calorie weight loss diet, like the