Frozen yogurt is a favorite treat for many of us, and as the days get warmer the lines at the frozen yogurt shops get longer and longer. The popularity of frozen yogurt can be attributed to its reputation as a healthy treat. Sugar and fat free, low calorie, full of beneficial probiotics, and tasty... is yogurt the world’s healthiest treat, or is it a health trap?
Health Trap # 1: Serving Size and Calories
The first thing to consider when grabbing a refreshing frozen yogurt from your local shop is the size of your cup. A “small” sized cup can hold 1.5 servings, and the medium cup may be as much as twice that. So if a single serving of PinkBerry’s Original flavored frozen yogurt only has 100 calories, then the small sized cup is 150 calories, and the medium sized cup can hold almost 300 calories of yogurt alone. A single scoop of Baskin Robbins Chocolate Chip ice cream has only 170 calories, in comparison.
Health Trap #2: Toppings
To top or not to top? Most of us have a hard time walking past the topping bar without helping ourselves to a smidgen of something. If you are skipping the crushed candies and heading for nuts or granola, you may be congratulating yourself on your healthy choice. But these “healthy” toppings can add some hefty calories to your treat. 1 tablespoon of granola topping can add an additional 100 calories to your yogurt.
Health Trap #3: Fat-Free and Sugar-Free
Fat and sugar play some pretty important roles in our treats. Fat provides texture and flavor, while sugar provides sweetness. When these ingredients are removed, chemical emulsifiers, binders, thickeners and sweeteners are often added in their place. Common ingredients found in vanilla frozen yogurt powder are crystalline fructose, dextrose, and maltodextrin: a chemical with a glycemic index of 110, compared to sugar’s GI of 57. And if you opt for a flavor (cake batter, anyone?), there is a good chance that is artificial as well. Remember that sugar-free does not mean chemical free.
Health Trap #4: Beneficial Probiotics
One of the main reasons for frozen yogurts reputation as a healthy treat is the presence of probiotics- the beneficial bacteria that lead to GI and immune system health. Probiotics can be sensitive, and the manufacturing process, extreme temperatures, and digestion of the frozen yogurt can all destroy these beneficial bacteria before they offer you any benefits.
If you are looking to get more probiotics in your system, select a high-quality nutritional supplement that offers billions of active cultures per dose, various strains of beneficial bacteria, and is formulated to withstand the digestive process so bacteria aren’t destroyed in the stomach.
The bottom line is that frozen yogurt has potential to be a low-calorie treat, but it is in no way a health food, or a diet food. If you decide to get some frozen yogurt, watch your serving size, and select a low calorie topping like fresh cut fruit (or omit the toppings all together) to keep your tasty treat from becoming a health trap.