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Frozen yogurt: Is it really healthy?

Picture this: you’re on a health kick. You’ve had oats for breakfast, salad for lunch and a veggie-packed stir fry for dinner. Then your sweet tooth strikes, so you reach for the frozen yoghurt in your freezer – because it’s healthy, right?

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but while frozen yoghurt might seem like a healthy choice – it’s usually not the case. You see, frozen yoghurt can still be quite high in calories and full of nasties like saturated fat (which is bad for your heart health) and added sugar (which can cause grief when consumed in excess).

Nutrient breakdown

To get you up to speed, one scoop (50 grams) of frozen yoghurt is likely to contain about 65 calories, one gram of saturated fat, more than 10 grams of sugar, and only 60 milligrams of calcium. Of course, like any other product there is likely to be variations between brands (and some indeed may have a more favourable nutrient profile), but as a guide, we’ll stick with these numbers.

By comparison, the same quantity of a reduced-fat plain natural yoghurt will have roughly 35 calories, less than half a gram of saturated fat, 4 grams of sugar and 100 milligrams of calcium.

So, frozen yoghurt clearly isn’t just yoghurt that’s been frozen. Add to that the enticing toppings and flavours that you might get at a frozen yoghurt bar, and you’ve got yourself a decent dose of calories.

However, you might be wondering how frozen yoghurt compares to ice cream – so here’s your answer. A scoop of regular vanilla ice cream has around 95 calories, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 9 grams of sugar and 50 milligrams of calcium. So, yes, frozen yoghurt could be considered a better choice than ice-cream, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy.

So, what’s the verdict?

As a blanket rule, I’d say to consider frozen yoghurt as a treat food – the same as you would ice cream, cake and chocolate.

What to have instead:

If you’re looking for a dietitian-approved way to tame your sweet tooth instead of reaching for frozen yoghurt, here are some my top suggestions:

  • Three quarters of a cup of reduced-fat plain natural yoghurt topped with berries
  • A fruit smoothie, made with one cup of skim milk and one frozen banana
  • An apple with one tablespoon of peanut butter
  • A baked pear with cinnamon and a dollop of reduced-fat plain natural yoghurt
  • Homemade ice blocks, made with yoghurt, seasonal fruit or small amounts of 100% fruit juice

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can follow her @honest_nutrition.

While you’re here, these are 5 desserts under 200 calories, and this is the recipe for a sugar-free chocolate sorbet that’s even better than ice-cream.

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