Brands push frozen yogurt as a healthy alternative to ice cream that's significantly lower in fat and calories and has plenty of flavors to offer. Is it all a bunch of misplaced marketing hype, or is frozen yogurt good for you?
When it comes to food products, good marketing is everything. Somewhere along the line, a manufacturer invented frozen yogurt, the hilariously-nicknamed froyo, and it caught on like wildfire.
Why did the frozen yogurt industry grow virtually overnight? A marketer used just the right tools to take advantage of the early 1980s health-craze and created a perfect storm to build a massive boom in the mostly uncharted healthy dessert industry.
But just how healthy is frozen yogurt?
95% of consumers think that eating frozen yogurt is healthier than eating ice cream, even though the myth of fat making you fat is long disproved.
While some frozen yogurt health benefits exist, many brands are not nearly as healthy as they seem.
Learn more about frozen yogurt nutrition facts, frozen yogurt benefits, and the difference between frozen yogurt and ice cream.
Frozen Yogurt Ingredients: What is Frozen Yogurt?
Frozen yogurt is a dairy dessert containing milk solids, sweetener, milk fat, yogurt culture, and a massive range of flavors and add-ins.
Does frozen yogurt have lactose?
Absolutely! Though we don't use cream to make frozen yogurt, it still contains milk ingredients with lactose.
The only exception would be dairy-free frozen yogurt, which contains cashews or other plant-based milk instead of cow's milk.
Is frozen yogurt fattening?
Most frozen yogurt is significantly lower in fat than ice cream, with only 2g of fat in an ample half-cup serving.
That said, it depends on the variety, as some can contain up to 7g of fat, which is on par with the fat content in a single serving of ice cream.
And while too much fat in any diet can be bad for your general health, the macronutrient fat is not the enemy we once thought it was.
Overall calorie intake is the most significant factor in weight gain or loss, and with 120 frozen yogurt calories per serving, it can easily fit into a low-calorie diet.
Health Benefits & Nutrition of Frozen Yogurt
There are some health benefits to eating frozen yogurt and certainly a few drawbacks.
Frozen Yogurt Probiotics
Very few desserts provide us with gut health building probiotics in every serving.
- Much like regular yogurt, froyo contains bacterial cultures that help us maintain a healthy microbiome within our bodies, which aids digestion and builds immunity.
- Some of the frozen yogurt's bacterial cultures die off during the freezing process, but many manufacturers add in extra cultures afterward to make up for the loss.
- In America, one way to ensure you're getting a yogurt product high in probiotics is to check labels for the Live and Active Cultures seal, which guarantees 100 million probiotic cultures per gram of the product.
The Dark Side of Fro-Yo
Sugar and Frozen Yogurt Carbs
Most manufacturers don't want you to know that the sugar in frozen yogurt is higher than ice cream, which hardly makes this dessert a healthy food. In each serving, froyo contains 18g of sugar to ice cream's 14g.
This dessert will spike your blood sugar more than ice cream, which can be detrimental to your health.
There are also many carbs in frozen yogurt, weighing in at around 22g per serving.
While carbs aren't a massive deal for most of us, this dish is not suitable for anyone following a low-carb or Keto-type diet, especially when paired with high sugar content.
Frozen Yogurt Vs. Yogurt
While the name may cause some confusion, frozen yogurt is not just regular yogurt that you tossed into the freezer - though you can do that to save unused yogurt for cooking and smoothies.
These are two similar but distinctly separate products. While frozen yogurt contains probiotics, they're not enough to compete with the levels you find in regular yogurt: plain yogurt has no added sugar, while most frozen yogurt contains quite a bit.
Lastly, the calcium in frozen yogurt isn't nearly as high as regular yogurt - from a health perspective, you're almost always better off eating a serving of traditional yogurt, provided it isn't too high in added sugar.
Frozen Yogurt Vs. Ice Cream
While we think froyo tastes pretty good, you can tell with one bite that frozen yogurt contains lighter ingredients than the rich, creamy flavor of a big scoop of ice cream.
The fat in ice cream has always been considered problematic. But we think this fat is the reason that it’s the superior choice.
- Fat slows down the speed at which our bodies digest sugar.
- This combats blood sugar spikes and makes us feel more satisfied for longer. So we digest frozen yogurt sugars faster because it doesn’t contain the fat to slow it down.
- It also contains even more sugar than ice cream - so it's a double whammy of sugar-induced stress on the system.
Choosing a Healthy Frozen Yogurt
When choosing a frozen yogurt, here are a few guidelines for your health:
- Choose froyo with the fewest ingredients on the label
- Avoid sugary and nutritionally-void toppings
- Stay away from "fat-free," which usually means more sugar
- Avoid artificial, chemical sweeteners
- Watch your portion sizes, no matter the type you choose
All in All, Frozen Yogurt: Healthy Dessert or Half-Baked Marketing Scheme?
Don't let the nutrition information scare you - you can still enjoy frozen yogurt, in moderation, as a part of a healthy diet.
Frozen yogurt only becomes a health problem if we overindulge merely because of its healthy-alternative label.
If you're going to eat two cups of frozen yogurt topped with sugary chocolate and candies, do it because you genuinely enjoy the treat. Otherwise, you're better off heading straight for a moderately-sized bowl or cone of your favorite ice cream flavor.
No matter the frozen dessert you choose, we hope you enjoy every last drop of it!