January 23, 2018
Frozen Yogurt: Healthy or Not?

Supermarket Buying Guide: Desserts

Frozen Yogurt: Healthy or Not?

by Edward R. Blonz, Ph.D.  

Think frozen yogurt and you might think of a healthful, low-fat dessert with “friendly bacteria” (probiotics) that may offer additional health benefits. It can be all of these things, but don’t automatically assume that every frozen yogurt you pluck from the freezer section will actually meet any of these criteria.

While frozen yogurt is required by law to contain yogurt, not all products contain “live” bacteria. And while most refrigerated yogurt is low in fat, frozen yogurts can have as much fat as some ice creams. Flavors range from fat-free vanilla to not-so-low-fat dulce de leche. Label reading is the key to finding the healthful frozen yogurt you’re looking for. Keep these facts in mind as you make your choice:

  • Calories range from about 100 to 190 per ½-cup serving. If your serving size is larger (a ½ cup is smaller than you may realize), your calorie intake will be proportionally higher.
  • Just because it’s yogurt doesn’t mean it contains live ”friendly bacteria.” Look for the “live, active cultures” label to be sure. Still, while refrigerated yogurts must contain 100 million viable lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to carry the “live, active cultures” seal, frozen yogurts are required to have only one-tenth that amount at the time of manufacture.
  • The more exotic the flavoring and the more added ingredients frozen yogurt contains (like chocolate chips, caramel or pretzel pieces), the more likely you are to see high fat and calorie counts. Keep it simple.
  • Sodium isn’t a major concern with frozen yogurts (they usually contain 75 milligrams or less per ½-cup serving).
  • While regular yogurt is an excellent source of calcium (about 450 milligrams in a cup of plain low-fat yogurt, or 45 percent of the Daily Value), frozen yogurts can vary greatly in calcium. Typically, they provide only about 20 percent of the Daily Value per cup.

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