Dig into the nutrition facts, though, and the swirl of smooth and creamy self-serve dessert isn't always the superior option. Here's the scoop on why you may want to reconsider your next 16-flavor "16 Handles" bender.
Fro-yo might remind you of your favorite probiotic-rich
morning Chobani — but not all "yogurts" are created equal. The freezing process used to make your dessert may kill some of the healthy gut bacteria found in regular yogurt. To compensate, some manufacturers of fro-yo (and standard yogurt, too) add extra probiotics after production.
"Look for the 'Live and Active Cultures' seal" when browsing the dessert aisle, says Alissa Rumsey, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This seal, created by the National Yogurt Association, confirms that a product has 100 million cultures per gram, which, among other health benefits, can help lactose intolerant people digest milk-based products. Chains like Pinkberry and RedMango and prepackaged pints from Haagen-Dazs and Cold Stone Creamery all carry the seal.
But probiotics alone don't make fro-yo a health food
. "People don't realize that it often has more sugar than ice cream," says Dana Kofsky, a California-based nutritionist. Per each half-cup serving, frozen yogurt contains roughly 17 grams of sugar
. Meanwhile, ice cream only has about 14 grams of the sweet stuff for the same serving size. "In order to get rid of the tart taste, [fro-yo companies often] add sugar," says Kofky.
However, ice cream boasts more fat (there are roughly seven grams per serving in the frozen dessert compared to four grams in fro-yo, according to the USDA). This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though. Fat can slow the body's digestion of sugar, meaning you'll feel more satisfied and won't experience a blood sugar spike like you might with a swirl of sweetened yogurt, says Rumsey. She notes that many fro-yo brands also add sugar substitutes that could cause digestive issues like bloating or cramping.