The Health Benefits of Skyr

Skyr, Icelandic cultured yoghurt is getting more popular and can be found in all supermarkets these days. Skyr is an excellent vegetarian source of protein.

What is skyr, and how is it made?

Traditionally in Iceland and Norway, skyr is prepared by yeast-lactic acid fermentation of skimmed milk using a starter with strains such as Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. Bulgaricus to initiate the fermentation process. The starter may contain some yeasts as well. During the making of skyr, the whey is removed by filtration after the fermentation process. The whey is isolated using ultrafiltration, and then the concentrated whey is added back to the final product to increase the solids.

Nutritional benefits of skyr

Skyr is rich in protein and micronutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, selenium, potassium, zinc and magnesium. Skyr is low in saturated fat content. On an average, 100 grams of pre-packed skyr provides 11.2 g protein, 100 mg calcium, 192mg phosphorus, 9.37 mg magnesium, 123 mg potassium, 6.43μg selenium and 32 mg sodium. 100g serving of skyr provides 22% of the recommended intake of protein.

Does skyr help lose weight?

100 g unflavoured skyr provides only 80 calories. Skyr is made with skimmed milk, so it is naturally low in fat. Also, as the protein content of the skyr is high, it will keep you fuller for longer, consequently, feeling less hungry and eating less. 100 grams of Greek yoghurt contains 3.33 g protein, whereas the same quantity of skyr can provide 11.2 grams of protein. Consuming skyr as part of a balanced diet, along with regular exercise and other positive lifestyle changes may contribute towards overall health and wellbeing.

Does skyr improve bone health?

Skyr is a rich source of calcium which is essential for maintaining bone health, regulating the contraction of muscles and maintaining the health of the nervous system. Sufficient calcium intake is recommended to avoid conditions such as osteoporosis. Calcium from skyr is more bioavailable than the other sources of calcium such as leafy vegetables and grains; therefore, it is better absorbed to your body. Other micronutrients found in skyr such as phosphorus, potassium and magnesium can contribute towards bone health. In addition to the micronutrients, protein from skyr can also help improve the bone mass density.

Does skyr improve gut health?

Probiotic bacteria in skyr may help to improve digestive health and may contribute towards the overall health of the host. Consumption of fermented food products such as skyr may help to increase the gut microbiota diversity. However, it is essential to consume fibre rich foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits to provide enough prebiotic (specific plant fibre) to promote the growth and healthy composition of the beneficial intestinal microorganisms.

How much research exists to prove health claims?

There is no substantive evidence from research to support health claims.

What to look for when buying skyr?

Flavoured skyr can be relatively high in sugar and calories. It is best to check the labels to ensure whether the skyr is sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners if you are trying to cut off extra calories from your diet. Adding chopped fruits or fruit puree to plain skyr is a better way to sweeten the skyr. Those who are allergic to milk and milk products should avoid consuming skyr. Medical advice should be taken from your GP if you experience any symptoms of allergy to milk or milk products. Allergy symptoms may vary from itchy skin rash, lip swelling, runny nose, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea to severe anaphylaxis. An extreme reaction to an allergen is known as an anaphylactic reaction which is a life-threatening situation and needs emergency medical attention. People who are lactose intolerant or intolerant to milk should contact their GP immediately if they experience any adverse reactions or symptoms. 

Different ways to enjoy skyr?

Skyr is a little bit sharp in taste than yoghurt and creamy in texture but thicker when compared to Greek yoghurt. It can be consumed as part of your daily diet. Traditionally skyr is mixed with milk or cream before serving to reduce the sharpness. Skyr can be included as part of your breakfast or snack, ideally flavoured with berries or other kinds of fruits or as a healthy granola topping. Skyr can be used as a replacement for yoghurt or cream in recipes. As skyr is a versatile ingredient, it can be used to make salad dressings, dips, frozen yoghurt alternative, smoothies or sauces.

Recipe ideas: Protein-Rich Tofu & Skyr Dip - Creamy and intensely flavoured dip, perfect for snacking


Nutritionist Reading, Berkshire
Contact: Nutriadvice, The Therapy Centre, 6B Church Street, Reading Berkshire RG12SB.
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