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Is Frozen Yogurt a Healthy Dessert?

Health + Wellness
Is Frozen Yogurt a Healthy Dessert?
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Is Frozen Yogurt as Healthy as Regular Yogurt?

Yogurt can be a healthy, tasty addition to your diet.

However, unlike most plain, regular yogurts, frozen yogurt usually contains a lot of added sugar (3, 14).

In fact, sugar is one of the most important ingredients in the manufacturing process.

Adding sugar to yogurt before it's frozen prevents large ice crystals from forming and ensures the frozen yogurt retains a creamy texture similar to ice cream. It also makes the taste more acceptable, so that it's sweet and tangy, rather than sour.

However, frozen yogurt can still contain more added sugar than regular sugar-sweetened yogurt (2, 15).

If you're looking for the healthiest yogurt, choose a plain, regular variety. This will give you all the health benefits without the added sugar.

Bottom Line: Plain, regular yogurt has all the benefits of frozen yogurt without the added sugar.

Is It Healthier Than Ice Cream?

One of the reasons people choose frozen yogurt is because it's thought to be a healthier option than ice cream.

The main difference between the two products is that frozen yogurt is made with milk and not cream. This means that ice cream contains more fat (2, 16).However, it's important to note that manufacturers often make up for this lack of fat with sugar. So beware—your frozen yogurt can contain as much, if not more, sugar than ice cream does.

This is especially true for the nonfat versions of frozen yogurt, which tend to contain more sugar.

Combined with large serving sizes and a variety of high-sugar topping options, this means that frozen yogurt can end up having way more calories and sugar than an ice cream cone.

So despite the healthy-sounding name, frozen yogurt is a dessert just like ice cream. Neither is better than the other and either can be enjoyed occasionally as a treat.

Bottom Line: Ice cream contains more fat than frozen yogurt. However, frozen yogurt can contain high amounts of sugar, meaning it should be treated as a dessert.

How to Choose a Healthy Frozen Yogurt

To make your frozen yogurt as healthy as possible, try the following:

Watch Your Portions

Despite being a sweet treat, frozen yogurt generally comes in much larger serving sizes than ice cream.

To keep your portion in check, stick to around half a cup — about the size of a baseball.

If it's self-serve, you could also try filling your cup with fruit and serving a smaller amount of frozen yogurt on top.

Choose Healthy Toppings

To make your dessert healthier, go for a topping like fresh fruit.

Other toppings like candy, fruit syrups, cookies and chocolate chips can bump up the sugar content without any added fiber or nutrients.

If you do want a more indulgent topping than fruit, try dark chocolate or nuts, both of which contain less sugar and come with some beneficial nutrients (17).

Look for Varieties Without Added Sugar

Some frozen yogurt is made with artificial sweeteners, rather than sugar.

If you want to keep your calorie intake in check, consider trying it.

Avoid Fat-Free Varieties

Fat-free varieties contain more added sugar than low-fat or regular varieties.

Eating excess added sugars has been linked with poor health outcomes, so it's probably better to stick to a low-fat or full-fat frozen yogurt (18).

Look for Live Cultures

Due to their potential health benefits, frozen yogurts that contain live probiotic cultures are the best choice.

To pick a variety that contains them, look for the words, "live active cultures" on the nutrition label.

Make Your Own at Home

Making your own frozen yogurt at home can give you more control over the ingredients and calories in your dessert.

There are lots of simple recipes online, like this one and this one.

Some people like using Greek yogurt as a base due to its higher protein content (19).

Bottom Line: To make your frozen yogurt healthier, keep your portions in check and avoid fat-free versions. If you can, try making your own at home.

Take Home Message

Frozen yogurt often comes in large servings and can be high in sugar.

Like other desserts, it's fine to eat occasionally as a treat, but don't be fooled into thinking it's a health food.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

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