The Real Scoop – Which is Healthier: Frozen Yogurt or Ice Cream?

woman-frozen-yogurt-dessert
(Photo: iStock)

There’s no dessert quite like a smooth and rich ice cream…or frozen yogurt? Let’s face it, the frozen dessert landscape has really changed since the days of chasing down ice cream trucks blaring carnival chords. While the quintessential American dessert has long been our sweet tooth’s victor, frozen yogurt shops have been doubling since 2008, popping up everywhere. With fro-yo sales rising an average of 21% each year, 95% of Americans believe the yogurt option is healthier than ice cream, but is it true?

Though both dairy treats provide calcium, protein and other nutrients, there are noteworthy differences.

Frozen yogurt

Though it’s easier to digest than other dairy desserts, the freezing process used to create fro-yo kills healthy gut bacteria ideal for our immune system. This forces some manufacturers to add extra probiotics after production, along with sugar to smooth out the sharp, tart taste.

  • Sugar: According to nutritionist Dana Kofsky, fro-yo often has more sugar than ice cream. Because of its sweetening process, each serving contains about 17 grams of sugar—seven more than one scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Fat: With its fat content varying from zero to four grams, frozen yogurt has less fat than ice cream. It does, however, contain more fat and calories than regular yogurt.
  • Benefits: Frozen yogurt enhances cardiovascular and digestive function, reduces allergic reactions, decreases symptoms of Irritable Bowel Disorders and aids in lactose digestion.

Ice cream

Ice cream sales may have melted a bit—after all, they do contain more milk fat, solids, sweeteners, cream and air than fro-yo. But the traditional option maintains 54% of the frozen dessert market with Americans eating an average of 48 pints of ice cream per person a year.

  • Sugar: While sugar-free is a wise choice, content varies among flavors—and it’s still empty calories.
  • Fat: With more fat than fro-yo, ice cream serves about seven grams (and more, depending on the flavor), but that’s not totally a bad thing. Since it slows our body’s digestion of sugar, we feel more satisfied without experiencing blood sugar spikes like with frozen yogurt.
  • Benefits: Full of vitamins and nutrients, ice cream is known to aid weight loss in women who eat one daily serving. Another plus? Its high levels of calcium and phosphorous help boost libido.

Tips for a Healthier Indulgence 

According to a survey from Handels, 79% of customers prefer frozen yogurt to ice cream. While it might feel like the healthier option, it’s about your needs for your diet--and there’s no wrong way to eat these two frozen treats.

  • Avoid sugary toppings as they spike sugars. Instead, try nuts, oats and fresh fruit.
  • To keep calories under control, put toppings on the bottom and the frozen treat on top.
  • Sugar-free seems like a good idea but it means artificial sweeteners, which will have you craving more.
  • Portion control is a common problem, so make sure your serving size is no larger than a closed fist or a medium-sized lemon. Also, order in a small cup--not a cone.

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