Ice cream and frozen yogurt are both tasty treats, especially during the hot summer months. But what’s the difference between ice cream and frozen yogurt?

What’s the Difference Between Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt?

{This post is sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Referral links are used in this post.}

There are a few small differences between ice cream and frozen yogurt. The big difference is the main dairy ingredient. The other (smaller) difference is the nutrition.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is a blend of dairy products (typically milk and/or cream), sweeteners, and other flavors that are churned while it freezes. Ice cream must have at least 10% milk fat, and weigh at least 4.5 pounds per gallon. (See the FDA guidelines here.)

Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt is made a mixture of yogurt, milk, and cream. The term “frozen yogurt” is not regulated by the FDA, so there is not a standard for how much yogurt is actually in frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt still includes sweeteners and other flavors. Because yogurt is cultured milk, it tends to have a bit of a sour flavor, compared to milk. Frozen yogurt can also have this sour flavor. The amount of actual yogurt in the product and the amount of sweeteners or other flavors all have an effect on the amount of sourness you can taste in frozen yogurt.


Regular frozen yogurt tends to have fewer calories and less fat than regular ice cream. However, with many low fat, no sugar added, and fat-free ice cream and frozen yogurt options available, that is not always the case.

Here is a comparison of nutrition labels from Prairie Farms Vanilla Ice Cream and Vanilla Frozen Yogurt.

per serving Prairie Farms Vanilla Ice Cream Prairie Farms Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
Calories 130 120
Fat (grams) 7 2.5
Carbohydrates (grams) 16 20
Protein (grams) 2 3

While the frozen yogurt (of this brand and flavor) does have fewer calories and less fat than the ice cream, it has more carbohydrates. When you’re reading nutrition labels, it’s important to look at the whole picture.

One of the good things about yogurt is the “good” bacteria it contains. Unfortunately, this benefit is lost in frozen yogurt. Those bacteria are killed when the yogurt is frozen.


Did you know that both ice cream and frozen yogurt contain air? One of the ways that ice cream gets its texture is by introducing air into the ice cream (or frozen yogurt). This happens during the churning process. The more the ice cream is churned, the more air is “trapped” inside (this is called overrun). This is the same thing that happens when you make whipped cream with an electric mixer, or when you make ice cream at home. More air means the ice cream will be lighter and fluffier, but weigh less (think soft serve). Less air means the ice cream will be creamier and denser, but weigh more (think frozen custard). By mandating that ice cream must weigh at least 4.5 pounds per gallon, there is a limit on how much air can be included in the final product.

Quality grades on ice cream or frozen yogurt can help you predict what the consistency of the ice cream or frozen yogurt will be (and how much air it contains). Regular or economy ice cream will have the highest amount of air. Premium or super-premium will have less air, but more fat, and be much creamier.

Which is your favorite – ice cream or frozen yogurt?


3 Ways to Take the Fear Out of Your Kitchen

  • How Long to Keep Foods in the Freezer
  • What is Freezer Burn?
  • Is There Too Much Sugar in Flavored Milk?

3 More Recipes to Try

  • Homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream
  • Homemade Blackberry Ice Cream
  • Homemade Double-Mint Ice Cream

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What’s the Difference Between Frozen Yogurt and Greek Yogurt Smoothies? Pinkberry Explains
January 31, 2017

Many patrons that approach the counter at their local Pinkberry frozen yogurt shop ask the same question: “what’s the difference between a Greek yogurt smoothie and a plain yogurt one? Here, their scoopers explain the difference.

Frozen Yogurt vs. Greek Yogurt Smoothies

Greek yogurt and traditional frozen yogurt share a few similarities. First, they’re both low in calories and packed with live bacterial cultures that promote healthy digestion. Both yogurts also give Pinkberry smoothies their refreshing, tart taste.

The main difference lies in how each product is made. Unlike its traditional counterpart, Greek yogurt undergoes a special straining process, ridding the products of liquid whey, lactose, and sugar, giving it a much thicker consistency. Because of this process, Greek yogurt also contains more protein per serving, with 11 grams packed into every Pinkberry smoothie.

Sample Both Smoothies Your Local Pinkberry!

They may have their differences, but that doesn’t mean frozen yogurt and Greek yogurt smoothies aren’t equally delicious. Try both for yourself at your nearest Pinkberry!

News & Events

September 12, 2019

Frozen Yogurt vs. Ice Cream vs. Gelato: What Are the Differences?

Frozen yogurt, ice cream, and gelato. They can all be described as cold, creamy, and delicious, but what are the differences between these treats? From the creation, to the ingredients, to health and flavor, how much do you really know about your favorite summer desserts?

Well, this is the inside scoop!

The Creation Process

Here is where the differences begin. How each treat is made impacts the flavor, texture, and healthiness of the dessert. We can start by looking into the history, ingredients, and the processes underwent.

While regular yogurt has been around for thousands of years, frozen yogurt was introduced in the early 1970s. Starting out, it was scooped like ice cream, then shaped like popsicles. A great evolution of frozen yogurt has occurred in the past few decades. While invented fairly recently, frozen yogurt has quickly become a household staple for millions. Now there are thousands of “fro-yo” shops all over the country!

Frozen yogurt does not generally use cream because it gets its dairy from cultured milk. Cultured milk is created by adding live cultures into pasteurized milk. As a result, frozen yogurt contains bacteria, which results in its signature tart flavor. But no worries, these are actually good bacteria that can have very positive health benefits for the consumer!

Of course, different frozen yogurts are made differently. The freezing process in some frozen yogurts limits the probiotic effect. And if you have a lactose allergy, some frozen yogurts do not use milk at all! If you are looking for different frozen yogurts to satisfy dietary restrictions, you’re in the right place. Here at 16 Handles, we do our best to cater to your needs with a large variety of different flavor profiles and healthy ingredients! Learn more about our offerings. We have frozen yogurts that are vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, fat-free, you name it!

Ice Cream

Ice cream has a very far-reaching history, as some say it was introduced as early as the second century B.C. It was introduced to America in the mid-1700s, but it was considered an exotic delicacy for the elite even in the 1800s. Over time, however, it became more accessible to the masses. Since then, ice cream has become a great American staple as it pops up through every generation. From ice cream sodas, to the creation of sundaes, to ice cream parlours, ice cream has consistently stayed near and dear to our hearts.

As you can tell by its name, ice cream is made from cream. There is actually a required minimum of 10% milkfat for ice cream to be legally sold. As a result, ice cream has a much higher fat content compared to frozen yogurt (which does not use cream at all). Ice cream consists of a combination of water, milk, cream, and sugar, all of which are rapidly churned together. This produces the creamy and lighter concoction that you love! Because of its churning process, ice cream can have an air content that ranges from 25-90%. (It will never reach 100% because that would be just air!)


Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream and is thought to have been created during the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century. It was introduced to the United States in the late 1700s. When it was brought to the US, two types were introduced: one made by mixing water with fruits (sorbetto) and the other by mixing milk with cinnamon, chocolate, or other flavors. Of course, many changes have been made to produce the gelato we have today.

Like ice cream, gelato uses cream and has a much thicker consistency compared to frozen yogurt. However, unlike ice cream, there is no required minimum of milk fat. Therefore, gelato uses substantially less cream than ice cream.

Like with ice cream, the ingredients are churned together, but more slowly to incorporate less air. As a result, gelato tends to be denser, milkier, and more flavorful, while consisting of less fat. Because of its composition, gelato has to be served at higher temperatures compared to ice cream. Otherwise, you would get a rock solid popsicle! (But who knows; that could be delicious, too!)

The Health Effects

All three treats have nutritional benefits with protein, calcium, potassium, and other vitamins. Because ingredients differ amongst various brands, there are a variety of different amounts of sugar, fats, and nutrients. Some brands of ice cream may be healthier than other brands of frozen yogurt or gelato! It really comes down to how they are made individually.

Some frozen yogurts add more sugar due to the tartness of the flavor. However, some still have sugar-free options or add other flavorings to mask the flavor. Some frozen yogurts simply fully embrace the tartness. Because frozen yogurts sometimes have probiotic effects and good bacteria, there may be more health benefits compared to other frozen treats. Frozen yogurt with active bacteria can improve digestive health, lower cholesterol, boost immune system health, as well as freshen breath.

Because ice creams have a 10% milkfat minimum, wiggle room for fat content is limited. However, low-fat ice creams do exist! Ice cream sometimes contains less sugar than frozen yogurt, but it depends on the brand and type of ice cream.

Gelato sometimes contains less fat per serving, but serving sizes will seem smaller because the product contains less air. The density of gelato compacts it, which could double its calories per cup, but become equivalent or less per serving, so beware! While there may be fewer calories per serving compared to ice cream, one serving of gelato will often seem much smaller.

The Flavor Differences

Of course, it all comes down to the flavor.

Frozen yogurt has the most distinct taste out of the three. Given its signature tart flavor, many try to compensate by adding sweetness. Ice cream has a creamy and fluffy texture with a mellower flavor, while gelato is denser, with a stronger flavor.

Flavor differences are also strongly influenced by brand, so it really comes down to personal preference!

The Biggest Differences

There are many similarities between the three, but here is a brief overview of what the major differences between frozen yogurt, ice cream, and gelato are:

  1. Frozen yogurt does not use cream, but sometimes uses more sugar to compensate for its tart flavor.
  2. Some frozen yogurts contain very beneficial bacteria for numerous health benefits. Frozen yogurt can be “healthy” for you!
  3. Ice cream contains the most cream out of the three because of its 10% milk fat minimum.
  4. Ice cream has a much fluffier texture because it is 25-90% air.
  5. Gelato is very dense (1 cup of gelato can have double the calories of frozen yogurt or ice cream because it has less air).
  6. Gelato has a much lower fat content and much stronger flavor compared to ice cream.

Frozen yogurt, ice cream, and gelato are all delicious options for a cold treat! Who knew how many differences there really were? While they may look the same or sometimes even taste the same, with so many differences in the creation process and in ingredients, you are left with three distinct and yummy desserts!

Healthy Snacks: 5 Myths About Frozen Yogurt

You may feel virtuous ordering a creamy white swirl of frozen yogurt from any one of the “real” yogurt shops popping up across the country-frozen yogurt has become a $2 billion dollar industry, with the majority of consumers being female-but what are you really getting? Does fro-yo offer all the same health benefits as regular yogurt? Is this seemingly guilt-free pleasure truly low-fat? And what about all those toppings? Discover the truth about these tempting frozen snacks as we shine the light on the top five misconceptions about frozen yogurt.

Frozen Yogurt Myth 1

Frozen yogurt is naturally nonfat or low-fat, so I can have as much as I want. Partially true. While most frozen yogurt is nonfat or very low in fat, the calories still add up. Most nonfat “original” or “plain” (the lowest-calorie flavor at most frozen yogurt shops) has about 30 to 35 calories per ounce with about 20g of sugar-meaning that a large 16-ounce cup weighs in at 380 calories and 76g of sugar before you add any toppings.

Diet tip: If you’re going to spoon down one of these delicious frozen snacks, stick with the small for about 150 calories or the medium for 230. Just see Frozen Yogurt Myth 2 before you decide. (Related: Can’t get enough frozen treats? Find out which frozen yogurt orders are the healthiest.)

Frozen Yogurt Myth 2

Those toppings don’t pack many calories. True-if you go for fruit. Stay away from popular “healthy” snack toppers like granola, which adds 138 calories and 6.8g of fat per ounce, or a cereal such as Cap’n Crunch, which adds 116 calories and 3g of fat per ounce. Other “healthy” frozen yogurt add-ons to avoid include yogurt chips (150 calories, 8g fat per ounce), dried cranberries (96 calories, 0.4g fat per ounce), and mixed nuts (168 calories, 15g of fat per ounce).

Diet tip: For a variety of flavor and texture, add a few different fruits. One ounce of fruit has about 15 calories and 0.1g fat-and gives your frozen snack an added boost of vitamins and nutrients. Just make sure fruit is fresh, not in a sugary (and caloric) syrup.

Frozen Yogurt Myth 3

Frozen yogurt is full of healthy probiotics that support my immune and digestive systems. True and false. While it’s true that probiotics are naturally found in yogurt, those healthy bacteria don’t always make their way into your digestive tract. “Shelf-life, manufacturing processes, stomach fluid and-particularly in the case of frozen yogurt-extreme temperatures can prevent probiotics from surviving and getting to where they can do the most benefit,” says Marshall Fong, former VP of marketing at Ganeden Biotech, Inc. Although frozen yogurt does contain probiotics, the majority of them do not survive long enough for you to reap the rewards.

Diet tip: Frozen yogurt manufacturers, like Red Mango, are beginning to realize the delicacy of probiotics and are starting to use strains that can survive the freezing process and the other challenges these healthy bacteria face. In the meantime try a supplement like Digestive Advantage, Sustenex, and AZO to get the full health benefits of probiotics. (Learn which healthy foods Victoria’s Secret models love most.)

Frozen Yogurt Myth 4

I make lunch out of regular yogurt, so why not frozen? Frozen yogurt is a great lunch. False. Frozen yogurt (and regular yogurt for that matter) is not an appropriate meal. A small serving (1 1/2 cups) of frozen yogurt does provide about 15 percent of your daily calcium and 5.5g of protein, but it also packs 30 grams of sugar. You’d never drink a glass of milk and call it lunch, yet the same serving of 1 percent milk provides 45 percent of your calcium, 19g of sugar, and a much more significant 12.3g of protein.

Diet tip: Like regular yogurt, frozen yogurt can be a healthy accompaniment to a light lunch. For a well-rounded meal, try a protein- and vegetable-rich sandwich followed by a small frozen yogurt topped with 3 ounces of your favorite fruits and five chopped almonds. Altogether, this lunch will clock in at just 430 calories while providing a great balance of fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and carbohydrates. Plus, it satisfies your frozen snack sweet tooth!

Frozen Yogurt Myth 5

“Real” or “natural” frozen yogurt is better for me than the Ben & Jerry’s version. False. While all frozen yogurts are not created equal, they are fairly comparable. Pinkberry, one of the leaders of the “real” frozen yogurt movement, serves up 116 calories, 0g of fat, and 20g of sugar per half cup. TCBY boasts 98 percent fat-free vanilla, which weighs in at 120 calories, 2g fat, and 17g of sugar. Ben & Jerry’s frozen yogurt is basically on par with 130 calories, 1.5g fat, and 16g of sugar in half a cup of their vanilla frozen yogurt. (Related: Yogurt’s not only for dessert. Use Greek yogurt to make these 10 healthy and delicious recipes.)

Diet tip: Before you indulge in a frozen snack, think about what you’re getting. Lots of women order the large (16 oz) cup at their favorite frozen yogurt shop and think they’ve made a healthy choice. Throw on sliced banana and a sprinkling of shredded coconut and you’re looking at 530 calories. That’s more than an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla frozen yogurt (520 calories). If you’re looking for quantity and all the goodies along with it, you’re better off splitting a pint of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie frozen yogurt with a friend. It will set you each back 320 calories and 5g fat, many fewer calories than a large fro-yo-and way less money too!

  • By Karen Borsari

Is frozen yogurt actually healthy or are you being bamboozled by the name?

What’s In It?

Milk and milk by-products are the main ingredients in frozen yogurt.

Frozen yogurt companies have their own recipes, but most common frozen yogurts contain yogurt cultures, sweetener, corn syrup, milk solids, gelatin, flavoring, and coloring.

Sugar makes up 15-17% of frozen yogurt and adds flavor, body, and thickness. Frozen yogurt, which isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (but is by some states), might or might not contain live bacterial cultures.

Frozen yogurt is lower in fat than most ice creams because it’s made with milk instead of cream. Most of the nonfat “original” or “plain” flavors are usually the lowest in calories at about 30-35 calories per ounce with about 20g of sugar.

It comes in a multitude of flavors and can be bought in cartons, as frozen bars or cups, or soft-serve. The recipes and quality of ingredients used by different brands create products with varying levels of sweet/tart, fat content, consistency, and flavor.

Some Frozen Yogurt History

Frozen yogurt was invented in Massachusetts in 1970 when a Hood dairy employee put regular yogurt through a soft-serve ice cream machine. The first “frogurt” cone was served by a Harvard Square store on February 3, 1971.

During the health craze of the ’80s frozen yogurt went mainstream and then sort of fizzled. Its popularity rebounded big-time with self-serve stores that allow customers to mix and match flavors, pick from dozens of toppings, and pay by weight.

Self-serve yogurt shops also allow customers to control their portion size, subsequent price, and flavors and toppings.

Frozen yogurt continues to wear a healthy food “halo” but doesn’t always warrant one. Some varieties are “healthier” than others — depending on the company’s recipe and the quality and quantity of ingredients and added toppings.

Calorie Tips

  • Despite variation in recipes, frozen yogurts are fairly comparable when calories are compared. For instance, a half cup serving of Pinkberry has 116 calories, 0g fat and 20g of sugar; TCBY’s 98% fat free vanilla has 120 calories, 2g fat, and 17g of sugar; and Ben & Jerry’s vanilla frozen yogurt has 130 calories, 1.5g fat, and 16g of sugar. Tip: DO reverse the order of your cup.
  • Put the self-serve yogurt on top, not under, layered toppings. Make space-filling low calorie fruit like berries or fresh pineapple your first layer. Then add things with crunch and volume, like cereal. Follow with the yogurt, then perhaps a teaspoon of candy crunch on top. Starting with yogurt often means putting a lot of yogurt in the cup followed by a lot of toppings. Layering low calorie volume food on the bottom can save you a lot of calories.
  • When you start with a smaller cup rather than a large one, you’re already ahead of the game. Despite the fact that you swear you won’t fill up a large cup, you almost always do.
  • Try not to mix flavors. Swirling a couple sounds like fun, but taste buds are funny. When you pick just one flavor and topping your taste buds are happy and you probably end up feeling more satisfied than if you have a variety of flavors.

Calories in Frozen Yogurt

One cup of low fat frozen yogurt runs about 210 calories. More specifically, for a one cup serving of different varieties of generic frozen yogurt:

  • Frozen yogurt: Calories: 214; Fat: 2.94g; Carbs: 39.24g; Protein: 9.40g
  • Nonfat frozen yogurt: Calories: 164; Fat: 0.65g; Carbs: 34.84g; Protein: 5.96g
  • Low fat frozen yogurt: Calories: 214; Fat: 2.94g; Carbs: 39.24g; Protein: 9.40g

  • Chocolate frozen yogurt (soft serve): Calories: 230 | Fat: 8.64 | Carbs: 35.86g; Protein: 5.76g
  • Vanilla frozen yogurt (soft serve): Calories: 234; Fat: 8.06g; Carbs: 34.84g; Protein: 5.76g
  • Frozen yogurt (non-chocolate flavors): Calories: 210; Fat: 2.70g; Carbs: 38.24g; Protein: 9.14g
  • Chocolate frozen yogurt (not soft serve): Calories: 226; Fat: 3.90g; Carbs: 43.22g;Protein: 10.48g
  • Frozen flavored yogurt (non-chocolate, not self serve): Calories: 221; Fat: 6.26g; Carbs: 37.58g; Protein: 5.22g
  • Nonfat chocolate frozen yogurt: Calories: 172; Fat: 1.32g; Carbs: 35.19g; Protein: 8.95g

Calories In Frozen Yogurt Toppings

It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re really doing well (and you might be) by eating frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. But, some toppings can turn frozen yogurt into a caloric nightmare – especially when you keep piling them on.

Here are the calorie counts are for one ounce of various toppings:

Fruit (fresh and not):

  • Strawberries: 9 calories
  • Blueberries: 16 calories
  • Blackberries: 12 calories
  • Rasberries: 15 calories
  • Pineapple: 17 calories
  • Mango: 17 calories
  • Grated sweetened coconut: 131 calories


  • Slivered almonds: 170 calories
  • Chopped peanuts: 166 calories
  • Chopped walnuts: 184 calories


  • Cap’n Crunch: 114 calories
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch: 123 calories
  • Froot Loops: 97 calories
  • Granola: 138 calories


  • Oreo topping: 112 calories
  • Pretzels covered in chocolate swirl: 130 calories
  • Milk chocolate M&Ms: 146 calories (1/4 cup has 210 calories)
  • Gummi bears: 90 calories (14 pieces have 120 calories)
  • Nestle crunch bar topping: 37 calories
  • Heath bar, crumbled: 170 calories
  • Chocolate sprinkles: 25 calories
  • Rainbow sprinkles: 30 calories

For more tips get 30 Ways to Have Low-Calorie Fun in the Sun: Your Guide to Guilt-Free Eating at Picnics, Amusement Parks, Barbecues & Parties available in print and for e-readers from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Photo: Pond5

Few things hit the spot like a creamy cone on a hot summer day. But should you go for a double scoop of mint chip — or the more virtuous-sounding fro-yo? Market research shows that frozen yogurt sales have risen an average of 21 percent each year since 2008, while the number of yogurt shops has doubled within the last seven years. And if you think frozen yogurt is healthier, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by Menchies, a frozen yogurt chain, roughly 95 percent of Americans believe the softer stuff is better for them than ice cream.

RELATED: 15 Healthier Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

Dig into the nutrition facts, though, and the swirl of smooth and creamy self-serve dessert isn’t always the superior option. Here’s the scoop on why you may want to reconsider your next 16-flavor “16 Handles” bender.

The Cold Truth: Frozen Yogurt Vs. Ice Cream

“People don’t realize that frozen yogurt often has more sugar than ice cream.”

Fro-yo might remind you of your favorite probiotic-rich morning Chobani — but not all “yogurts” are created equal. The freezing process used to make your dessert may kill some of the healthy gut bacteria found in regular yogurt. To compensate, some manufacturers of fro-yo (and standard yogurt, too) add extra probiotics after production.

“Look for the ‘Live and Active Cultures’ seal” when browsing the dessert aisle, says Alissa Rumsey, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This seal, created by the National Yogurt Association, confirms that a product has 100 million cultures per gram, which, among other health benefits, can help lactose intolerant people digest milk-based products. Chains like Pinkberry and RedMango and prepackaged pints from Haagen-Dazs and Cold Stone Creamery all carry the seal.

RELATED: 15 Healthy Recipes for No-Bake Desserts

But probiotics alone don’t make fro-yo a health food. “People don’t realize that it often has more sugar than ice cream,” says Dana Kofsky, a California-based nutritionist. Per each half-cup serving, frozen yogurt contains roughly 17 grams of sugar. Meanwhile, ice cream only has about 14 grams of the sweet stuff for the same serving size. “In order to get rid of the tart taste, add sugar,” says Kofky.

However, ice cream boasts more fat (there are roughly seven grams per serving in the frozen dessert compared to four grams in fro-yo, according to the USDA). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Fat can slow the body’s digestion of sugar, meaning you’ll feel more satisfied and won’t experience a blood sugar spike like you might with a swirl of sweetened yogurt, says Rumsey. She notes that many fro-yo brands also add sugar substitutes that could cause digestive issues like bloating or cramping.

RELATED: Are Artificial Sweeteners Wrecking Your Diet?

Portion control can also be common problem with frozen yogurt, says Rumsey. “People trick themselves into thinking they can eat more,” she says. “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 is roughly 140 calories.) And if you’re making it rain toppings on your Pinkberry cup, you’ll likely add on another few hundred calories. Rumsey recommends sticking to one or two spoonfuls of nuts or fruit if you want a little crunch.

Photo: Pond5

Frozen Dessert Dos and Don’ts

Whether you love ice cream or fro-yo, there’s no wrong choice as long as you keep your serving sizes in check. According to Kofsky and Rumsey, your portion should be a half a cup, which will be roughly the size of a baseball or your closed fist.

“Eat it slowly. Savor it,” says Kofsky. Your best bet is to choose a dessert that will actually satisfy your taste buds, so you won’t be tempted to double down on the scoops or swirls, or scrounge for more food later on. Both experts recommend seeking out reputable products that have real ingredients, and not a laundry list of preservatives or thickening agents.

For a DIY dessert fix, Kofsky suggests making your own ice cream by blending up frozen bananas, cocoa powder, milk and almond butter. You won’t even need an ice cream machine to whip up this healthy mint chocolate chip protein ice cream recipe.

The next time you need to get your fix, simply swirl (or scoop) responsibly!


Is FroYo Really Healthier Than Ice Cream?

A dietitian breaks down fact vs. fiction. By Allison Knott MS, RD· 8/20/2013, 9:47 a.m.

Read all about the latest gym openings, healthy events, and fitness trends in our twice weekly Wellness newsletter.

The Pinkberry team at Boston University. Photo via Facebook.

Froyo shops are everywhere. There’s even a Pinkberry on Hanover Street. (Although whether or not it will give any real competition to the authentic gelato shops, only time will tell.) Whether it’s a taste preference, or the belief that it’s the healthier choice, froyo’s popularity is still skyrocketing. If you’re used to filling your cup (or bowl) with frozen yogurt, mounds of brownie bites, cookie dough, and even gummy worms then you’re probably piling on more calories than you realize.

The Basics: Serving Size

Self-serve yogurt containers can usually hold between 16 and 24 ounces of the cold treat. Yogurt averages about 100 calories per 1/2 cup. Do the math. Fill your cup to the brim, and you might mistakenly be eating more than 500 calories in yogurt alone. Add sweet toppings like those brownie bites and gummy worms and you’re well on your way to sabotaging your best intentions. Your cup of yogurt could have more calories than a Big Mac.

FroYo vs. Ice Cream

Ounce for ounce, frozen yogurt has fewer calories and is lower in saturated fat than regular ice cream. But, if you choose low-fat ice cream, the calories and saturated fat are about the same. For example, 1/2 cup of Breyer’s “1/2 the Fat” vanilla ice cream has 100 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat. The same amount of frozen yogurt, original flavor from Pinkberry, has 100 calories and 0 grams of saturated fat. Depending on the flavor, some frozen yogurts might also have more added sugar than ice cream. Many ice cream and yogurt companies now offer their nutritional information online. This is a valuable resource that I recommend checking out.

Probiotics in FroYo?

Probiotics are often a source of confusion. The beneficial bacteria that aids in digestion are found in yogurts and fermented foods, but the confusion usually centers on whether they survive the freezing process. Since the Food and Drug Administration does not have a standard definition for frozen yogurt, there is no guarantee that every frozen yogurt brand and will contain probiotics. One way to know if the yogurt you choose has probiotics is to look for the National Yogurt Association Live & Active Cultures seal. Both Pinkberry and Red Mango carry the seal.

Tips for a Healthier FroYo:

  • Don’t fill your cup. You might feel silly for only covering the bottom of the container with one layer of frozen yogurt, but by keeping your portion size to a 1/2 cup, you’ll stay within a healthy calorie range. If they’re serving it for you, make sure you choose the smallest size.
  • Load up on fruit. Many frozen yogurt places have fresh fruit to add to your cup. This is an excellent way to add some sweetness without the extra calories.
  • If you want a sweet treat to add to your yogurt, choose one. For example, I love the combination of original frozen yogurt, strawberries, mango, and brownie bites. Remember that some toppings have up to 50 calories per serving which can add up quickly.

— — What’s better than a little froyo? And it’s yogurt, right? Yes, but the amount of added sugar may shock you.

Nutritionist Maya Feller says even the plain tart flavor at your local frozen yogurt shop is “absolutely different” from the plain yogurt in the grocery store.

“With plain yogurt you’re going to get protein, no added sugar, probiotics. Good choice. Really, really healthy,” she said.

But “Good Morning America” looked at the nutritional information for the plain/tart frozen yogurt from five national chains. They averaged 18 grams of added sugar per 113 gram (4 fluid ounce) serving, with some as high as 28 grams of added sugar. That’s equivalent to seven sugar cubes.

And there’s another problem: Of the six local self-serve yogurt shops I visited in the towns of Oakland, Berkeley and Walnut Creek, California, none offered a 4-ounce cup. One provided a 12-ounce cup, but most had 16-ounce, 20-ounce, and 32-ounce cups.

But maybe people just serve themselves a modest amount in those quadruple portion cups? To find out, I went to a yogurt shop franchise in Walnut Creek and weighed the cups of yogurt people purchased before they took a bite. I found weights of 5, 6, 8, 10, and 17 ounces.

In the case of the 17-ounce yogurt, there were 1 to 2 tablespoons of nuts on top, so I adjusted my yogurt weight down to 16 ounces. Even with that conservative downgrade on weight, the added sugar was 120 grams. That’s the equivalent of 30 cubes of sugar.

Feller put that in perspective, saying, “The World Health Organization recommends 15 grams of added sugar for kids, 25 grams for women and 37 grams for men per day.”

And keep in mind we’re talking about yogurt alone, before we even get to the toppings.

One yogurt customer told me she chooses yogurt over ice cream because she thinks of it as a healthier choice. She cited the fact that many frozen yogurt options are non-fat. But she also admitted that this perception is what she uses to give herself permission to add a few candy toppings, which roughly average 7 grams of added sugar per tablespoon (I used Gummy bears, brownie bites, Butterfinger and Heath bars to get to that average number). That bumps the added sugar numbers up even more.

When we compared the added sugar in the frozen yogurt to the same size serving of a higher-end international ice cream chain’s ice cream, the frozen yogurt had twice the sugar. Granted, the ice cream had 17 grams of fat — no small amount, but in a straight sugar comparison the difference was staggering.

So what can you do?

Tips for Eating Healthier When You Go for Frozen Yogurt

1. Visit yogurt shops that serve the yogurt for you.

In almost all of those shops I visited they offer 4-ounce cups.

2. Visualize 4 ounces. A 4-ounce serving of frozen yogurt is slightly less than the size of your fist.

3. Pile on the fruit. Once you put a fist-sized serving of yogurt in your bowl, if you want more and you want toppings, add fresh fruit and a few nuts for crunch.

4. Consider it an occasional treat.

I love frozen yogurt, but now I know it’s not a freebie that I can indulge in all the time. When we reached out to one of the brand locations we visited — certainly not the only yogurt brand with significant sugar numbers — they offered that advice too: perceive yogurt as a “special treat.”

“…We offer a variety of custom frozen yogurt flavors and toppings that appeal to the tastes and dietary needs of our guests; these include gluten-free, non-dairy and no sugar added frozen yogurt flavors that are also all kosher,” the brand said in a statement. “Every day, our guests tell us how much they appreciate making their own creations knowing they can be as indulgent or as healthful as they choose, and they value the wide variety of choices we offer.”

A few notes to consider in methodology and specifics: While many yogurt shops do offer a no-sugar added option, most of those use artificial sweeteners.

We used the distinction “added sugar” here because dairy products all contain milk which has its own lactose sugar. We allotted 6 grams of lactose sugar per 4 ounce serving. Yogurtland’s listed sugar content was 36 grams per 4 ounces. We called that 30 grams of added sugar per 4 ounces to account for the lactose.

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Dessert is dessert and no sugary treat can ever really be considered “healthy,” but the low-fat frozen yogurt craze has many of us convinced it doesn’t count.

Katherine Booking, a registered dietician and co-founder of, cautions consumers that it does. “A lot of frozen yogurt places these days allow you to self-serve and you can easily end up doling out huge portions, then adding high-calorie toppings,” she says. “You could walk out of your favorite fro-yo shop with a 400-plus calorie treat; thinking you’re having a 100 calorie dessert.”

(MORE: Study: The Best and Worst Foods for Healthy Weight)

A common frozen-yogurt myth is that since it’s yogurt, it’s full of healthy probiotics that maintain digestive health and give your immune system a boost. But whether a given brand of frozen yogurt contains enough probiotic bacteria to actually have this beneficial effect depends on the manufacturer. According to Simin Nikbin Meydani, a professor of nutrition at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University:

Although the flash-freezing technique used in the production of frozen yogurt, unlike slow freezing in a freezer, should not kill the live cultures , there is no guarantee that this won’t occur.

As a result, the number of bacteria in frozen yogurt is usually lower than that in the yogurt it was made from. However, different yogurts and frozen yogurts are made with different types of live cultures and probiotics, and the levels that remain in frozen yogurt depend on the numbers that were in the yogurt and on the heartiness of the specific bacteria that was used.

To find out if your yogurt has a healthy helping of probiotics, you should read labels and look for the National Yogurt Association’s “Live and Active Cultures” seals on yogurt containers. But, as far as Booking is concerned, “Overall, probiotics are not worth the calories in most frozen yogurt since you can get probiotics virtually calorie-free in capsules or in fat-free regular yogurt.”

So what’s Booking’s solution? “I’d rather opt for a small portion — about a half-cup serving — of the ‘real deal’: regular ice cream. If I’m going to indulge, I really want to enjoy my indulgence,” she says.

PHOTOS: Pictures of Ice Cream That Will Make You Scream

Murray always wanted to create a decadent, premium ice cream with a “lot of butter fat, a really rich delicious thing”​ that would make people “want to break their diets for ice cream.”​ It was his wife, a pediatrician, who recommended adding probiotics to the product after her positive experience with the microorganisms in her practice.

Thus Foxy’s Thoughtful Ice Cream was born, named after his wife’s nickname, which launched at Expo West this year and it garnered a lot of interest. Still in its embryonic stage, Murray said he was excited and thrilled by the reaction toward his product at the show, which was “better than we could have possibly hoped.”​

With less sugar than most ice cream brands, the ice cream has won the attention of Whole Foods Market, Fresh and Easy, and Albertsons in the Pacific North West, and is officially sold in around 100 independent stores throughout the US.

In China, the ice cream is sold at Carrefour, and is expanding to Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.

“Frozen yogurt in America comes from a machine”​

Murray’s freezer aisle entrepreneurial endeavors actually started eight years ago in Australia, where together with a college mate, he launched the same-named Foxy’s frozen yogurt brand.

Looking at companies from an ad agency perspective (his friend/business partner owned an ad agency), Murray reminisced: “His customers that want to pay the bills aren’t creative at all, and the ones that couldn’t pay the bills were really creative. We sat around and wondered how can we create his best customer?”​

100 calorie frozen yogurt

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