Is Frozen Yogurt a Healthy Treat? A Nutrition Expert Weighs In
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It seems like frozen yogurt shops are popping up at every corner. Is this a healthy trend or just a bunch of hype? Here are the facts to know before you indulge in this soft serve treat. Before you set out to your local frozen yogurt shop, go online to the store’s website for the nutrition stats. Keep in mind that a standard serving size is a 1/2 cup, but this may not be the portion you serve yourself. Multiply the calories per ounce by the amount you actually eat. Typically 1/2 cup has 120 calories (or 40 calories per ounce). Note: you may also find the calories per ounce labeled next to the yogurt dispenser.
Serving size counts! The self-serve containers available are often “super-sized” bowls and if you’re swirling away you might end up with a whopping 18 ounces of yogurt to fill the whole container. That’s 720 calories and that’s before you start adding any toppings! Select the smallest container available and always use the scale to weigh before you start adding toppings.
Toppings can be tricky so proceed with caution. Your best picks will be the fresh fruit. Load up with berries, bananas, pineapple, mango or kiwi. These add minimal calories (see below) and bonus nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants. Consider serving yourself mixed fruit on the bottom of the bowl and use the frozen yogurt as a “topping” instead of a base. You can still enjoy the creamy frozen treat but with a portion savvy strategy! Try to budget your yogurt as a snack in the range of 200 calories. More than that is like eating a whole meal!
Beyond fruit, there is a slew of tempting “less healthy” topping options. See the comparison below of fruit, candy, granola and nuts:
Calories in one tablespoon (the size of a ping pong ball):
Low fat granola: 24
Dark chocolate chips: 50
Heath bar: 75
There are additional health benefits in frozen yogurt. Though it is less nutrient dense than regular non-fat yogurt, it contains some protein and calcium worth mentioning. A six-ounce portion of an average non-fat vanilla yogurt has eight grams of protein and 250 mg calcium. A six-ounce portion of an average frozen vanilla yogurt has five grams of protein and 100 mg calcium.
So the next time you serve yourself some frozen yogurt, enjoy this creamy treat with your eye on the portion size and the toppings you choose.
For information on nutrition consultations at Cooper Clinic click here or call 972.560.2655.
Article provided by Elana Zimelman, RD, LD, CDE, registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Cooper Clinic.