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Is Frozen Yogurt Healthier Than Ice Cream?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Frozen yogurt is a dessert that is similar to ice cream but is made with yogurt rather than cream. It tends to be healthier than ice cream, so many people choose it as an alternative. Consumers should realize, however, that although it is richer in many minerals and nutrients than ice cream is, frozen yogurt is not as healthy as regular yogurt. Some types of frozen yogurt might also include significant amounts of sugar, making them not much healthier than ice cream and possibly even higher in calories than some varieties of ice cream.

Healthy Alternative

In general, frozen yogurt can be viewed as a healthy alternative to ice cream — perhaps on par with frozen milk or some sorbets. The enzymatic benefits of yogurt can aid digestion, and some of the additional health benefits of yogurt remain in its sweetened and frozen form. It should not, however, be viewed as a “healthy” food, because it still contains relatively high levels of fat and might have extremely high amounts of sugar.

Benefits

There are several benefits that yogurt has and other dairy products don't have. Perhaps most importantly, yogurt contains enzymes that assist in breaking down dairy, allowing many people who are lactose intolerant to ingest yogurt — including the frozen kind — with few or no ill effects. Yogurt also tends to contain high levels of protein and many important minerals.

Frozen yogurt is perhaps best viewed health-wise as being somewhere between real yogurt and ice cream. Although it contains protein, the protein in frozen yogurt is often as little as one-third of the amount in regular yogurt and roughly equivalent to the amount in ice cream. Ice cream is quite high in fat — typically 10 percent to 18 percent fat by weight — but frozen yogurt varies more widely. It usually has less fat than a comparable ice cream but higher amounts of fat and substantially more calories than a comparable yogurt. Fat-free frozen yogurts exist, but they often have more added sugar than other varieties.

How It is Made

Yogurt is a fermented food that is made by adding live bacterial cultures to milk. These bacteria promote fermentation in the milk, releasing lactic acid. The acid, in turn, thickens the milk proteins and causes them to form a mass while guarding against non-beneficial bacteria. Yogurt usually is considered true yogurt only if live bacteria remain at the end of the creation process. When a person consumes true yogurt, these live bacteria enter the body and help other beneficial bacteria that are present in the body.

Frozen yogurt is made in much the same way as ice cream, and it can even be made at home in an ice cream maker. Yogurt replaces the cream content of ice cream, but otherwise, similar ingredients are used. A great deal of sugar is usually added, as in ice cream, which is a major reason why frozen yogurt is not nearly as healthy as regular yogurt. Yogurt, because of its changed structure, freezes and melts at much higher temperatures than milk, making it stay frozen much longer than ice cream when it is subjected to room temperatures.

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Discussion Comments
By anon956295 — On Jun 12, 2014

Frozen yogurt doesn't have fewer calories than ice cream- both have at least 120 calories per serving.

By anon113943 — On Sep 26, 2010

Frozen yogurt is a delightful way to combine grapes and other berries for a healthful, sensible dessert or snack. --Jaya

By amypollick — On Jul 23, 2010

@Anon98458: No, frozen yogurt is not necessarily better for you than ice cream if you're T2. It's all about the sugar content, not whether it's yogurt or not.

As a fellow T2, I suggest you go either with Edy's (Dryer's west of the Mississippi) sugar-free, or Blue Bunny sugar-free if you can get it.

For a treat, you can have a *small* serving of regular ice cream. I get the kids' size. You just can't have the whole walloping waffle cone with extra candy sprinkles. Well, you could, if you didn't care that you ran your blood sugar up to 400.

Moderation is the key.

By anon98458 — On Jul 23, 2010

I have type 2 diabetes and am wondering if frozen yogurt is better for me than ice cream as far as sugar goes? My local ice cream shop only has two kinds of sugar free ice cream and they are both gross!

By anon48232 — On Oct 10, 2009

Wisegeek needs to start accepting donations so I can donate millions. You guys have given me so much information to aid in my human curiosity. Also, I read this while eating Wildberry Vanilla Swirl Frozen Yogurt. I was just curious about what I was putting in my stomach. Thanks!

By anon47718 — On Oct 06, 2009

i buy chapmans ice cream yogurt in vanilla and chocolate flavors. is it a healthy choice? please answer.

By catapult43 — On Jul 05, 2008

There are some frozen yogurts on the market that come in different flavors, such as the regular vanilla, chocolate, but also cookies and cream and peanut butter among others. They taste quite good, but the real kicker is that they are lower in calories.

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