With every sweet treat and dessert, we allow ourselves to indulge in, there is a 'healthier' alternative. For ice cream, this job usually falls to frozen yogurt. For years, frozen yogurt has been touted as a healthier treat with a trendy edge. As a result, frozen yogurt shops have boomed; there were around 2,582 of them just at the end of 2013. You'd be hard-pressed to not find one in your local shopping center or college neighborhood today. But is frozen yogurt REALLY that healthy?
Yogurt is healthy because it has gut-supporting probiotics and it is low in sugar. Unfortunately, both of these things can be eliminated in the fro-yo creation process. Probiotics and active cultures in the yogurt can be killed during the freezing process. Because of this, some companies (like Pinkberry and Haagen-Dazs) add probiotics back in after the freezing process. When this occurs, they'll advertise the 'live and active cultures' seal on their packaging.
But yogurt has less sugar than ice cream or gelato, right? Wrong, usually. Yogurt has a naturally tart taste. To cut the tartness companies will add sugar, sometimes resulting in higher sugar content than typical ice cream.
On top of that, customers can choose toppings that add on a few extra calories and grams of sugar.
This doesn't mean frozen yogurt is inherently bad, of course. There are a few ways you can enjoy this frozen dessert and still feel relatively guilt-free.
Watch your serving size. Even small yogurt cups can be pretty large. Going back for seconds or overloading your yogurt cups can be a common problem for those watching their health.
- Look for the 'live and active cultures' seal if you're keen on getting the gut-healthy benefits of regular yogurt.
- Check the sugar content of flavors. Some brands and some flavors may be more sugary than others.
- Be choosy with your toppings. If you spoon on a million sprinkles or gummy bears, you'll be adding tons of extra calories. Stick to a scoop of nuts or a few berries for texture.
Mindfulness is a big factor in being able to enjoy sweets like frozen yogurt on a sweet-restricted diet. Be aware of where you're getting your yogurt from. Buying a reputable brand from the grocery store and serving yourself and your family works well. Once you know you're buying a good product and serving it responsibly, you'll be able to enjoy it guilt-free.