The frozen yogurt fad blew up in America when Pinkberry was opened for the first time in 2005. It is advertised as a “guilt-free” healthy substitute for ice cream, but is it really as nutritious as they say?
1. Yogurt is low in fat so froyo is automatically a healthier option.
Partially true. The calories still add up; most nonfat or plain yogurts have about 35 calories per ounce with about 20 grams of sugar. This means the average 16 oz. froyo cup is about 380 calories before adding any toppings.
2. “Real” frozen yogurt is better for me than the Ben and Jerry’s kind.
False. All frozen yogurts are pretty comparable. It doesn’t matter if it’s from Pinkberry, the frozen section of the grocery store or a stand on the side of the road. Generally, they will contain similar nutritional qualities.
3. Frozen yogurt is always a healthier choice than ice cream.
Mostly false. Froyo has fewer calories and is lower in saturated fat than regular ice cream, but if you choose low-fat ice cream, the nutritional values are about the same.
- 1/2 cup of Breyer’s lowfat vanilla ice cream has about 100 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat. The same amount of plain frozen yogurt from Pinkberry, has 100 calories and 0 grams of saturated fat.
- Depending on the flavor, frozen yogurts can have more added sugar than ice cream. Some of Pinkberry’s offerings contain as much sugar as a McDonald’s McFlurry and more sugar than a Krispy Kreme glazed donut.
4. The probiotics present in frozen yogurt make it healthier.
False. According to Alice Mackintosh, a nutrition consultant at The Food Doctor, the probiotic element is in too low a concentration to have much of an impact.
5. There really isn’t that much sugar.
Also false. According to David Katz (M.D., founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center), there’s a lot more sugar than you think; “One of the things they’ll do is in the same product list sugar by three, four, five different names. Sugar is sugar and we eat too damn much of it.”
So what can you do about your unhealthy froyo obsession?
1. The key is portion control.
Don’t fill your cup. You might feel silly filling only the bottom of your cup with a layer of froyo, but by keeping your portion size to a 1/2 cup (or the smallest size offered), you’ll stay within a healthy calorie range.
2. Follow Nestle’s rule: “If it has more than five ingredients, or you don’t recognize the ingredient as a food, leave it.”
3. Fruit for toppings!
Many frozen yogurt places have fresh fruit to add to your cup. This is an excellent way to add some sweetness without the extra empty calories.
Still want more froyo?