Is Frozen Yogurt Really Healthier Than Ice Cream?

When you're in the mood for a sweet treat, you might think it's healthier to reach for frozen yogurt over ice cream. But which is the better choice, really? Is frozen yogurt offering any nutritional benefit, or hiding nutritional pitfalls in the guise of health?

To tell the difference, it's important to look at how each of the confections is made. Ice cream, as the name suggests, is whipped up from cream that contains between 10 and 25 percent milk fat, according to Healthline. Sugar and flavoring are added, and sometimes egg yolks too, but it is the fat in cream that gives ice cream its satiating properties.

Frozen yogurt is made from yogurt, which is cultured milk. It's much lower in fat — typically between three and six percent for regular frozen yogurt and two and four percent for the low-fat version. Sugar is added to the milk, along with active bacterial cultures, which gives frozen yogurt probiotic properties.

But if you're scooping up fro-yo because it's gut-healthy, you need to be on the lookout. That's because the freezing process kills off many of the healthy bacteria, according to CNN. Some manufacturers will add probiotics back in after the freezing process. Any frozen yogurt that meets the standards to be considered probiotic will be marked with a "Live and Active Cultures" seal.

Overdoing it can ruin a good choice

But probiotics aren't enough to classify frozen yogurt as healthier than ice cream, especially if you're watching your sugar intake. To cut through the tart taste of the cultured milk, frozen yogurt companies often add extra sugar to their product. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's FoodData Central, one serving (1/2 cup) of vanilla ice cream contains about 14 grams of sugar. The same amount of vanilla yogurt has 17 grams of sugar.

The frozen yogurt wins out for overall calories and fat, however, with 114 calories and just four grams of fat. By comparison, the ice cream comes with 137 calories and seven grams of fat.

One mistake many people make when choosing frozen yogurt is overfilling a portion or pilling on unhealthy toppings. These are quick ways to rack up extra fat, sugar, and calories that you're not accounting for.

To make the most of your indulgence stick with original, plain, Greek yogurt (in a non-fat variety if possible), according to Women's Health. Keep your portion in check, and skip the candy in favor of nuts or fresh fruit for a healthier treat.