Skyr is a cultured Icelandic dairy product that's becoming popular worldwide.
With a high protein content and a wide range of vitamins and minerals, skyr is generally recognized as a nutritious addition to the diet.
It's commonly enjoyed as a high-protein breakfast, healthy dessert or sweet snack between meals.
This article takes a deeper look at skyr, examining what it is and why it's healthy.
Skyr has been a staple food in Iceland for over a thousand years.
It closely resembles yogurt, with a similar taste and slightly thicker texture.
Popular brands include:
- Icelandic Provisions
- KEA Skyr
Once the product has thickened, it is strained to remove the whey.
Skyr has become increasingly popular in recent years and can now be found in many grocery stores around the world.
Summary: Skyr is a popular Icelandic dairy product. It's made by adding bacteria cultures to skim milk and then straining it to remove the whey.
Skyr packs an impressive set of nutrients.
It's low in calories, fat and carbs, yet high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
While its exact nutrient content varies by brand, a 6-ounce (170-gram) serving of unflavored skyr typically contains the following (, , ):
- Calories: 110
- Protein: 19 grams
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Phosphorus: 25.5% of the RDI
- Calcium: 20% of the RDI
- Riboflavin: 19% of the RDI
- Vitamin B-12: 17% of the RDI
- Potassium: 5% of the RDI
Skyr is a naturally fat-free product, although sometimes cream is added during processing, which can increase its fat content.
It also contains more protein than many other types of dairy, with about 11 grams of protein per 3.6 ounces (100 grams) ().
For comparison, the same amount of Greek yogurt contains about 7 grams of protein, while whole milk contains 3.2 grams (, ).
Summary: Skyr is low in calories but high in protein, and it also contains important vitamins and minerals.
One of the biggest benefits of skyr is its protein content.
Producing skyr requires three to four times as much milk as making yogurt, resulting in a more nutrient-dense, high-protein product.
Studies have shown that protein from dairy products can regulate blood sugar, improve bone health and help preserve muscle mass during weight loss (, ).
Protein can also be beneficial for weight management, given that it increases fullness and decreases hunger. In fact, eating high-protein dairy foods like yogurt has been shown to help prevent weight gain and obesity ().
One study looked at how high-protein snacks like yogurt affected appetite, compared to unhealthy snacks like chocolate and crackers.
Not only did eating yogurt lead to a decrease in appetite, but it also led to eating 100 fewer calories later in the day ().
Another study compared the effects of low-, moderate- and high-protein yogurts on hunger and appetite. It found that eating high-protein yogurt led to reduced hunger, enhanced fullness and a delay in subsequent eating later in the day ().
Evidence also suggests that protein may stimulate diet-induced thermogenesis. This causes an increase in your metabolism, allowing your body to burn more calories after meals ().
Summary: Skyr is rich in protein, which may benefit weight loss by improving satiety and decreasing appetite.
Skyr is high in calcium, an essential mineral in the diet.
About 99% of the calcium in your body is found in your bones and teeth.
While collagen forms the main structure of your bones, a combination of calcium and phosphate is what makes them strong and dense.
In children and teenagers, studies have shown that calcium intake is associated with an increase in bone mass density and bone growth (, ).
As you age, your bones begin to lose some of that density, leading to porous bones and a condition known as osteoporosis ().
Research shows that increasing your calcium intake can protect against bone loss.
In fact, a three-year study in women showed that eating more calcium from dairy foods helped preserve bone density ().
Another study in elderly women showed that supplementing with calcium in the long term reversed age-related bone loss ().
Calcium can be found in a variety of foods, but just one serving of skyr can provide 20% of the recommended daily amount.
Summary: Skyr is rich in calcium, an essential mineral that can help protect against bone loss and osteoporosis.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for nearly 31% of all deaths ().
Fortunately, evidence shows that dairy products like skyr may be linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
This is likely because dairy contains minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium, all of which are important for heart health (, , ).
One 24-year Japanese study found that for every 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of dairy consumed, there was a 14% reduction in deaths from heart disease ().
Another study showed that dairy products can help lower blood pressure. It found that three servings of dairy per day caused a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure in men with high blood pressure ().
Summary: Dairy products like skyr have been associated with lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Skyr is high in protein but low in carbs, so it could help control your blood sugar.
When you eat, your body breaks carbs down into glucose. A hormone called insulin is then responsible for transporting the glucose into your cells to be used as energy.
However, when you eat too many carbs, this process doesn't work as efficiently and can lead to high blood sugar levels.
Studies show that eating protein slows the absorption of carbs, resulting in better blood sugar control and lower blood sugar levels ().
One 16-week study compared high-protein and normal-protein diets. The researchers found that replacing carbs with protein significantly improved blood sugar control ().
Summary: Skyr is high in protein and low in carbs. This combination can help improve blood sugar control.
Certain people may not benefit from adding skyr to their diet.
Because skyr is made from milk, if you are allergic to casein or whey — the two proteins found in milk — you should avoid skyr.
For these individuals, skyr and other milk-based products can trigger an allergic reaction with symptoms ranging from bloating and diarrhea to anaphylaxis ().
If you have lactose intolerance, figuring out whether you're able to tolerate skyr may be a question of trial and error.
Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk. It's broken down by an enzyme called lactase.
Those with lactose intolerance lack this enzyme, which can lead to stomach pain and other digestive side effects after eating products containing lactose ().
Fortunately for these individuals, the process of straining skyr removes about 90% of its lactose content, so many people with lactose intolerance can tolerate moderate amounts of skyr.
However, it's best to try a small amount first to make sure you don't experience any negative symptoms.
Summary: Skyr contains milk, so it may cause adverse effects in those with lactose intolerance and milk allergies.
Traditional skyr is served mixed with a few tablespoons of milk and some sugar, although eating it plain is a healthier choice.
Additionally, it's often paired with fruit or jam to add a bit of sweetness for a dessert.
Furthermore, skyr is incorporated into a variety of recipes, from flatbreads to frittatas to puddings and more.
A few other ways to enjoy skyr include:
Summary: Skyr is traditionally eaten mixed with milk and sugar, but it can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
Skyr is rich in many nutrients that could benefit your health.
It may also promote bone and heart health, weight loss, help regulate blood sugar and provide a good amount of protein with minimal amounts of carbs and fat.
Overall, skyr is a nutritious food that can be a healthy addition to most diets.