Nutrition Comparison of Frozen and Regular Yogurt

Yogurt Benefits Vary

Frozen yogurt with berries
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Yogurt has been touted as a health food for some years, and that's probably true because it's an excellent source of calcium and protein. It also contains beneficial probiotics, which are friendly bacteria that can take up residence in your digestive tract (which is a good thing). But you may wonder whether frozen yogurt is just as good for you. Maybe, but maybe not.

Frozen Yogurt Basics

Frozen yogurt is a sweet concoction made of milk, yogurt cultures, sugar, and flavorings that can be either artificial or natural. It's similar to ice cream in texture but is usually lower in fat, so frozen yogurt became popular when people started following low-fat diets.

Being low in fat, especially saturated fat, is a good thing. But frozen yogurt is also high in sugar, so it still has lots of calories. It's also unclear how many probiotic bacteria are found in any particular brand. If the probiotics are heat-treated any time during the manufacturing process, then they're all dead. Dead bacteria don't do much good. But you can look on the product label—if you see something about containing live cultures, then you know there is, at least, some probiotic bacteria in the frozen yogurt.

Nutrition Comparison of Yogurt vs. Frozen Yogurt

The nutrition information for yogurt varies a bit based on fat content and flavorings.

One-half cup of plain yogurt made with whole milk has approximately 75 calories, 4 grams protein, 6 grams fat (2.6 grams of which are saturated fats) and just under 6 grams carbohydrates, mostly in the form of milk sugar or lactose. It also has 148 milligrams calcium and 15 milligrams magnesium.

One-half cup flavored frozen yogurt has 110 calories, 2.6 grams protein, 3 grams fat (2 of those grams are saturated fat), 19 grams carbohydrates (much of which come from added sugar), 87 milligrams calcium and 9 milligrams magnesium.

So, frozen yogurt has more calories from sugar and less calcium and magnesium than the same amount of plain yogurt.

The plain yogurt comes out as the nutrition winner, but if you have a craving for sweets, the tangy flavor of regular yogurt isn't going to cut it. You can add fresh fruit or berries for just a few extra calories and lots of vitamins and phytochemicals. If it's still not sweet enough, you can add a little honey—but not too much, or you'll start to pile on the extra calories from the natural sugars found in the honey. You can also add some sweetness with a little bit of a zero-calorie sweetener such as sucralose, stevia, or aspartame if you like.

Frozen Yogurt vs. Ice Cream

What if you're comparing frozen yogurt with ice cream? One-half cup of a typical brand of vanilla ice cream has 137 calories with about 7 grams fat (4.5 grams of that is saturated fat). It also has about 16 grams of carbohydrates from the added sugar, 2 grams protein, 84 milligrams calcium, and 9 grams magnesium. From a nutritional standpoint, about the only difference is the fat—there's more fat in the ice cream.

If you're looking for good nutrition and probiotics, the regular yogurt is the best choice, if you're looking for a frozen dessert, then the frozen yogurt may be better than ice cream, but not by much.

You also have to keep in mind the serving sizes. If you load up a bowl with either ice cream or frozen yogurt, you're consuming two, three, or more servings and the calories, sugar, and even the fat are going to add up quickly.

Source:

National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. United States Department of Agriculture. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list?ds=Standard+Reference.