Frozen Yogurt: Is it Healthy?
Using yogurt instead of cream typically means a significant reduction in fat and calories. A half-cup serving of frozen yogurt will typically average 100 to 140 calories and zero to 3 grams of fat (a very reasonable sweet treat for any healthy diet). Some premium brands of ice cream contain 3 times more calories and 5 times more fat than frozen yogurt! Our taste test revealed that beneficial probiotic bacteria are present in frozen yogurt (a bonus for your digestive system). Nutrients like calcium, vitamin D and protein can also be found. Tart yogurt shops like Pinkberry and Red Mango are popping up across the country -- just remember that while the tart yogurts do have a unique flavor they’re still sweetened with sugar and have a similar amount of calories per serving to other types of frozen yogurt.
Frozen yogurt still stacks up equally to ice cream when you look at the sugar content. One half cup of vanilla averages 2 to 3 teaspoons of sugar. Top with extra goodies like cookies and candy the sugar content will be jacked up as well.
Nonfat varieties need to use thickeners and binders like carrageenan, cellulose and guar gum to make up for the texture that high fat ingredients like cream naturally provide. While these additives are very safe to eat, they do make some varieties of yogurt more processed than ice cream.
Frozen yogurt certainly does have healthy attributes like less calories and fat and some healthy bacteria but there’s a lot of variation in the sea of frozen yogurt options. Whether you’re at the local yogurt shop or picking up pints at the grocery store – seek out nutrition info and read ingredient labels carefully. Portion control is still key - choose "small" or "child" sizes when eating out and scoop out no more than a cup when at home. One of the healthiest routes may be to make your own.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »