Back in the 1980’s, frozen yogurt (“fro-yo”) became the rage in America. Fro-yo chains like TCBY started popping up all over the country, and women watching their waistlines lined up for what was supposedly a healthier frozen treat than ice cream.
Frozen yogurt is still popular, as evidenced by the many fro-yo bars where you can pile the sugary fixins’ high atop your yogurt. In fact, frozen yogurt sales have increased 21% since 2008, and the number of yogurt shops has doubled within the last seven years. A recent survey showed a whopping 95% of Americans believe frozen yogurt is healthier than regular ice cream.
But that’s not always the case.
Why Frozen Yogurt Isn’t Much Better than Ice Cream
The freezing process used to make frozen yogurt can kill some of the healthy gut bacteria found in regular yogurt. Some companies add probiotics after production to make up for the deficit.
And you might be surprised to learn that fro-yo often contains more sugar than ice cream. A half-cup serving of frozen yogurt contains 17 grams of sugar compared to ice cream, which only has 14 (these numbers vary, of course). Many fro-yo producers add sugar to cut the tart taste.
Frozen yogurt does contain less fat than ice cream, which is great, but there’s a catch-22. If you’re looking to frozen yogurt as a semi-healthy snack to keep you fueled, the lack of fat means you might not feel full as long as you would if you’d chosen ice cream. And the lower fat can “trick” people into believing it’s safe to eat a larger portion.
“People trick themselves into thinking they can eat more,” Alissa Rumsey, R.D., told CNN. “”The smallest cup still tends to be pretty big. You’ll get something that’s 300 to 400 calories-worth.”
In comparison, a half-cup serving of vanilla ice cream has about 140 calories. And if you add toppings, you’re getting even more calories. 
Have a Healthier Fro-Yo Experience
- – “Look for the ‘Live and Active Cultures’ seal” when browsing the dessert aisle, Rumsey says. This seal confirms that a product has 100 million cultures per gram, which can benefit lactose-intolerant people digest milk-based products. The Pinkberry and RedMango fro-yo chains all carry the seal, as do prepackaged pints from Haagen-Dazs and Cold Stone Creamery. This is one step in the right direction.
- – If you can’t imagine a cup of fro-yo without toppings, opt for two spoonful’s of nuts or fruit.
- – Portion sizes can be tricky, so if you’re scooping it yourself, keep in mind that one serving should be about the size of a closed fist.
- – Eat slowly.
- – Seek out reputable products that use all-natural ingredients. Organic, optimally. Artificial sweeteners can cause stomach issues like bloating and cramping.
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.