The real scoop: Frozen yogurt only sounds healthier than ice cream

Not all "yogurts" are created equal.

Story highlights

  • Frozen yogurt often has more sugar than ice cream
  • Portion control can also be common problem with frozen yogurt
  • Freezing might kill some healthy gut bacteria found in regular yogurt

Few things hit the spot like a creamy cone on a hot summer day. But should you go for a double scoop of mint chip — or the more virtuous-sounding fro-yo? Market research shows that frozen yogurt sales have risen an average of 21% each year since 2008, while the number of yogurt shops has doubled within the last seven years. And if you think frozen yogurt is healthier, you're not alone. According to a survey conducted by Menchies, a frozen yogurt chain, roughly 95% of Americans believe the softer stuff is better for them than ice cream.

    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.

    The cold truth: frozen yogurt vs. ice cream

    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 s