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Frozen Yogurt: Healthy Treat or Junk Food in Disguise

By Lindsey House, RD LD Certified Personal Trainer through the American Council on Exercise


Ahhh...the joy of frozen yogurt. With a rainbow of delicious flavors and all-natural toppings like strawberries, bananas and cherries, it’s practically a health food...right? Not so fast.


The cold hard truth is that frozen yogurt might not be the skinny treat we like to think it is. And even though this summertime favorite has become a dietary fad to take the health-crazed public by storm, ounce for ounce, frozen yogurt can contain just as much sugar as regular ice cream.


But perhaps the bigger problem is that frozen yogurt is packaged in a way that promises to deliver a yummy, low-calorie superfood. However, if you’re used to piling on, mounds of cookie dough, brownie bites and even candy pieces, you’re probably adding more calories than you realize. And the ounces come out of the machine fast and you may have more than two servings in one pump.  So, before you take another bite, let’s learn the truth about this tempting frozen treat.


3 Myths About Frozen Yogurt

Myth One: “It’s non-fat or low-fat, so I can eat it every day if I want, maybe even have seconds”! Most popular frozen yogurt shops do offer non-fat and low-fat options, but that does not mean it is a low calorie or low sugar option. A 4 ounce serving of vanilla frozen yogurt offers about 100 calories and 18 grams of sugar. However, the cup sizes offered are usually 12 ounces or 16 ounces. Even by going with the smaller size of 12 ounces, you would consume 300 calories and 54 grams of sugar!


Myth Two: “It’s all natural”. By definition yogurt is a simple fermented dairy product. Frozen yogurt is not so simple. When reviewing ingredients of many different brands, one will come across hard to pronounce additives such as maltodextrin, disodium phosphate, and propylene glycol monoesters. These additives are far from “all natural”.


Myth Three:The toppings I add when at my local frozen yogurt shop don’t add too many calories”. Let’s take a look at common toppings available. Reese’s, chocolate chips, Butterfingers, yogurt chips, wet nuts, and similar toppings, will all offer a significant amount of calories ranging anywhere from 200-400 calories per 2 full scoops. Remember, that’s in addition to the 300-400 calories from the frozen yogurt itself!


It’s easy to convince yourself that frozen yogurt is good for you, but a high sugar food that contains 500-600 calories is a treat, not a health food. As with other sugary treats, it’s not necessary to completely eliminate from the diet, but should be enjoyed rarely.


Tip: For a lower calorie and sugar treat, opt for the original tart flavored, filled a quarter of the way to the top of a 12 ounce container, and topped with fresh fruit!