Looking for a creamy, frozen treat, but worried about all the risky health factors that accompany a scoop of ice cream? Well, frozen yogurt might be the perfect solution to your dessert dilemma. Frozen yogurt is lower in fat than the average ice cream, with the added benefits of "good" bacteria, or probiotics, found in regular yogurt. Here's a look at the benefits of frozen yogurt and why it is such a great dessert or snack idea.
Unlike ice cream, frozen yogurt is made from yogurt rather than cream, resulting in lower fat content. Another added benefit of having a yogurt base is the presence of probiotics like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These "live and active cultures" are what give regular yogurt its distinctive, tangy taste, and can benefit the body in the following ways:
- Microflora in the intestines: One of the benefits of probiotics is it adjusts the microflora, or the natural balance of organisms, in the intestines. This can potentially help suppress diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and other discomforts that can occur in the digestive system.
- Immune system: Studies have shown a link between probiotics and cells in the digestive tract. By balancing the organisms found in the digestive tract, probiotics can help with inflammatory bowel disease and lessen the response of the body's immune system. Probiotics can also enhance the body's ability to recover from infection, and potentially improve the success of certain drug therapies.
- Lactose Intolerance: Probiotics found in frozen yogurt help break down lactose, giving those who are lactose intolerant a chance to enjoy a dairy product without the regular discomforts associated with consuming other dairy foods. This makes frozen yogurt a great alternative to ice cream, a dairy food that those who are lactose intolerant have trouble eating.
Frozen yogurt is a better source of calcium than ice cream, with an average of 103 milligrams in one-half cup according to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Calcium is an important mineral in the body, and is found mostly in the bones and teeth. When the body is calcium deficient, it can take the calcium reserves in the bones and teeth, leading to health complications like osteoporosis. The calcium in frozen yogurt can also help reduce the risk of:
- Cardiovascular disease: Studies have suggested a correlation between regular calcium intake, and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Increased calcium intake may also lower the risk of high blood pressure and hypertension. To maximize these particular health benefits, it is important to look for brands of frozen yogurt that are either low-fat or nonfat.
- Colon cancer: Regular calcium intake can effectively reduce the growth of excess cells in the colon, lowering the risk of developing colon cancer.
- Obesity: Calcium intake can help with weight management by reducing calcium concentrations found in fat cells. Calcium can also decrease the production of hormones, like cortisol, related to the accumulation of body fat. Frozen yogurt can help with weight management when used as an alternative to ice cream and eaten in moderation.
Protein is an important macronutrient of the body, and needs to be replenished regularly to help the proper function of muscles, bones and cartilage. Protein is also very important to the skin, hair, nails and blood, and since protein is not stored in the body, it is important to include foods rich in protein in one's daily diet. This makes frozen yogurt a great addition to health shakes or smoothies typically consumed after exercising. The protein in the frozen yogurt can help the body build and repair muscles, while providing a healthier snack option than shakes or smoothies made with ice cream.
Maximize the Health Benefits
While frozen yogurt can be a healthy alternative to ice cream, it is important to remember a few things to maximize its potential health benefits:
- Moderation: Moderation is a key to a healthy lifestyle. Frozen yogurt may have less fat than ice cream, but it still contains sugar and high calorie content. Eating frozen yogurt in moderation can maximize its potential health benefits, while minimizing the negative effects of high sugar and calorie intake.
- Low-fat or Nonfat: Another way to maximize the health benefits from frozen yogurt is to look for varieties that are either low-fat or nonfat. However, waffle cones and unhealthy toppings, like candy, can negate the health benefits of low-fat or nonfat frozen yogurt. When searching for toppings to add to frozen yogurt, fruits and healthy nuts, like almonds, work best.
- Exercise: The good thing about the calories found in frozen yogurt is that they are mostly from carbohydrates, and can be used to fuel your body. Pairing frozen yogurt with regular exercise and physical activity is another great way to reap its health benefits, while avoiding the potential health risks of consuming too many calories from a snack food.
- Nutrition facts: Remember to always read the nutrition labels or search for the nutrition facts when selecting a particular variety of frozen yogurt that best suits your dietary needs.