is frozen yogurt healthy

There’s nothing better on a hot day than a cool, refreshing treat, and for many of us, frozen yogurt has become a summer must-have.

With so many different flavors and toppings, this confection offers nearly endless options. Even better, we feel less guilty about eating it because it’s yogurt, after all. But is frozen yogurt really healthy? And what’s the difference between frozen yogurt and ice cream?

This frozen treat can actually be a great alternative to ice cream. While both are dairy products, they do vary in nutritional value. Frozen yogurt does not contain cream, so it’s lower in calories and fat as compared to ice cream. This might sound like great news, but there are other factors you should consider before you snack.

Frozen Yogurt vs. Fresh Yogurt: Facts vs. Myths

It’s important to remember that frozen yogurt is not the same as fresh yogurt and does not offer the same healthful benefits. Fresh yogurt contains probiotics, a type of bacteria that helps both prevent digestive problems and boost your immune system.

Probiotics, however, do not survive in cold temperatures, and are lost in the freezing process associated with frozen yogurt.

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Frozen Yogurt Portion Control

Heather Bell-Temin, registered dietitian and nutritionist in the UPMC Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center, said serving sizes are the key to enjoying frozen yogurt with a healthy diet.

“Yogurt is a delicious, cool summer treat that can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet,” Bell-Temin says.

So, like most things that taste good, fro-yo is best in moderation. One cup of regular vanilla frozen yogurt contains about 200 calories, but flavors such as cake batter and peanut butter can contain much more. Plus, this does not include those extra toppings you’re probably adding.

Most frozen yogurt shops use self-serve machines, making it difficult to tell just how much you are getting, but it’s important to pay close attention to portion sizes. Stick to the smallest size bowl and be careful with how high you are piling the toppings.

Beware of Fro-Yo Toppings

Think about what you are adding to your frozen yogurt. Most frozen yogurt shops have an array of toppings to choose from, including:

  • Sprinkles
  • Candy
  • Nuts
  • Syrups and sauces

In many shops, you can even add cake or brownie bits. So, while you may have started with something healthy, those toppings pack on extra calories and fat.

Instead of adding candy as a topping, try fruit. Topping your treat with strawberries, bananas, and blueberries is a great way to add nutrients and vitamins.

Before enjoying a serving of your favorite frozen yogurt, stop to think about what you are actually eating. Watch your serving size, be careful with toppings, and understand that you are still eating dessert.

About Digestive Disorders

UPMC Digestive Health Care cares for a wide range of gastrointestinal (GI) conditions and diseases, from diagnosis to treatment. Whether your digestive condition is common or complicated, our experts can help. Upon referral from your physician, we coordinate your testing and treatment. If you have a complicated condition, we can refer you to one of UPMC’s digestive health centers of excellence. Find a GI doctor near you.