Monday, May 7, 2012

Is Frozen Yogurt Better For You?

Sometimes research is fun.

Willing Participants.

Those are my kids, double blinded, randomized, and placebo controlled; ready for a taste test of frozen yogurt tonight. More on that in a moment. . .

First, a little more on Frozen Yogurt and its' counterpart, Ice Cream.

We seem to take it for granted that Frozen Yogurt wears a halo of health, and is "good for you". Is it?
Well, maybe.

Ice Cream, by definition is a frozen dairy dessert, comprised of milk fat (10-16%), milk solids (9-12%), sweeteners, and stabilizers.

Frozen Yogurt, on the other hand, is composed of yogurt cultures, milk fat (0.5-6%), milk solids (8-15%), gelatins, sweeteners, and flavours. Frozen yogurt, in general, then, tends to have lower fat content, but also tends to have higher added sugars.  Since yogurt is made by adding live bacterial cultures, which may be of benefit for our guts, this might be considered beneficial. Additionally, the lactose present in yogurt is more easily digested than that in traditional ice cream. 

When we think of yogurt, being low or no-fat, we start to think we can eat as much as we want, right?
Not necessarily. The TOTAL calories in a similar cup of frozen yogurt and ice-cream may not be that different.
Although the fat content of the ice-cream will be higher, the total number of calories may actually be fairly close, due to all the added sugars in the frozen yogurt. Don't forget, excess calories, whether from fat or sugars, are all converted to fat if not metabolised.

So, where does that leave frozen yogurt, on the scale of  "healthy"?  Probably middle of the road.
Certainly, the lower fat is a plus over ice cream. The live bacterial cultures may also provide the gut some additional benefit. The added sugars and similar calories, not so much. The best choice, as with so many other things, is all in moderation. Enjoy it as an occasional treat, and feel good about yourself.

P.S. There is something to be said about the  "pull your own" Fro-Yo stores. If you have reasonable self-control, this is a great way to indulge in a nice treat!

Just a word of caution - the Mix-ins can add HUNDREDS of extra calories, and defeat any health benefits the yogurt may have. 

Now, for the Fun Stuff!
We tested 3 versions of No-Fat Vanilla Frozen Yogurt. Both of my kids were blindfolded and tested each brand after sitting in a freezer at home for 1.5 hours, then taken out to sit on the counter for 10 minutes at room temperature. They were then fed exactly 15 ml of each fro-yo from an identical stainless steel spoon. They then rinsed their mouths with distilled room temperature water, before testing the next sample.
After all samples, they independently made their decision, and the winner was . . . 


Let the debates begin. What's your fave?

By the way, after all the gruelling testing, the kids went to town with mix-ins.!

Again, I'd appreciate any comments you have, either about the Fro-Yo, or especially about your thoughts on the Blog!

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