In the year 2018 alone, the United States produced a total of 6.4 billion pounds of ice cream and frozen yogurt for consumers to enjoy. Both of these creamy, frozen treats are clearly popular — and tasty — but what sets frozen yogurt apart from ice cream?
Though it’s similar in appearance, frozen yogurt has some unique qualities that make its health impacts a bit unique among dessert options. For example, frozen yogurt has a lower fat content than the average ice cream. Plus, it’s loaded with probiotics, or the “good bacteria” found in regular yogurt. Want to know more? We’re delving into what, exactly, makes frozen yogurt such a great snack.
What Is Frozen Yogurt?
Often referred to as “fro-yo,” this treat has become popularized by shops that specialize in build-your-own bowls. You know, several yogurt flavor options and a near-endless selection of toppings. Made from a combination of milk, sweetener and yogurt cultures, fro-yo has a creamy, light texture and a slightly tangy taste.
1. Full of Important Nutrients
Frozen yogurt makes a great snack or dessert because it contains multiple essential nutrients, including:
- Protein: An important macronutrient of the body, protein 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 vital 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; a single scoop contains approximately 4.8g of protein. 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.
- Fats: Though it’s lower in fat content than most ice creams — usually 2-6% milk fat compared to at least 10% or higher in ice cream — frozen yogurt still contains fats, or lipids, that are needed to help support and provide energy to the cells of the body.
- Calcium: Frozen yogurt is a great source of calcium, with an average of 160 milligrams in one scoop. Calcium is an important mineral in the body, and is found mostly in the bones and teeth. Adding calcium to the diet can help maintain bone, muscle, heart, and nerve function as well.
- Probiotics: Just like regular yogurt, frozen yogurt contains probiotics like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. These “live and active cultures” are what give regular yogurt its distinctive tangy taste. And, of course, they can benefit the body in a variety of ways.
Other Health Benefits Associated With Frozen Yogurt
2. Helps With Digestion
- Introducing probiotics to the digestive tract can promote the growth of “good” bacteria, or microflora, that protect the intestines against uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Lactose-free versions of frozen yogurt are also available for those who have difficulty digesting lactose.
3. Supports Cardiovascular Health
- Regular consumption of frozen yogurt along with other dairy products has been linked with a reduction in cardiovascular disease incidence in adults with high blood pressure. The high calcium content supports heart muscle function.
4. Supports Your Immune System
- Probiotics in frozen yogurt may also support the body’s immune response, combat inflammation, and enhance the body’s ability to recover from infection.
How Can You Maximize the Health Benefits Associated With Frozen Yogurt?
While frozen yogurt can be a healthy alternative to ice cream, it’s important to keep a few things in mind if you want to get the most out of it. Remember to:
- Practice Moderation & Balance: Frozen yogurt may have less fat than ice cream, but it still contains sugar and high calorie content. Eating frozen yogurt in moderation as part of a balanced diet can maximize its potential health benefits while minimizing the negative potential effects of high sugar and calorie intake.
- Eat Low-fat or Nonfat Varieties: You can look for varieties of frozen yogurt that are either low-fat or nonfat. Keep in mind that waffle cones and candy toppings add to the fat and sugar content. When searching for toppings to add to frozen yogurt, consider dried fruits or nuts for additional protein.
- 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.
- Check Out Those 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.
- “U.S. production of ice cream and frozen yogurt totals 6.4 billion pounds per year” via Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- “Nutrition Fact — Frozen yogurt, vanilla” via U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- “Regular Yogurt Intake and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Hypertensive Adults” via American Journal of Hypertension
- “The growing role of probiotics” via Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School
- “Probiotics: What You Need To Know” via National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- “Probiotics” via Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- “Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance” via Mayo Clinic