Home > Nutrition > Frozen Yogurt: A No or a Go?

Frozen Yogurt: A No or a Go?

By Meridan Zerner,  MS, RD, CSSD, LD, Registered Dietitian at Cooper Clinic

It’s summer. It’s hot…really hot. After a long, hot day, nothing tempts the palate like a cool dish of ice cream, right? But wait, we know better – ice cream is fat and calorie-laden with close to 250 calories per half cup and 16 grams of fat (11 of which come from artery clogging saturated fat). We would have to jog for 30 minutes just to burn off the calories in that tiny half cup. So, now what?

The next best thing: frozen yogurt. It’s almost always a better choice, but as with anything, you may want to head to your local yogurt shop armed with a little more information. A half cup of the average frozen yogurt (about 3 to 4 ounces) has just 120 calories and often, low to no fat.

Be mindful of that portion size
Use the scale if they have one available because often what you end up with is a lot more than 3 ounces. I recently observed the serving sizes at one of our local yogurt shops (and there’s a new one springing up on every corner from Red Mango, to Pinkberry, to Orange Cup, to Yogurtland, and so on). The large, self-serve bowl at this shop held approximately 18 ounces of yogurt plus toppings. The calories in the yogurt alone would then be closer to 720 calories BEFORE the tasty toppings were added. I just hope they were counting that light, little dish of summer refreshment as a hearty meal instead of a snack with those numbers.

Use toppings with caution
Naturally we will always support fresh fruit as a topping choice. It really does go so well with some cold, tart frozen yogurt. Try opting for blueberries, raspberries and pineapple, which would add a minimal 20 to 40 calories worth of fiber, antioxidants and flavor.

Don’t be fooled by some of the other toppings that may seem healthy such as fruit soaked in gooey syrups and high calorie granola. A hearty sprinkle of granola could add another 150 calories and 7 grams of fat to your snack. And, if you are not careful over time, another inch around your waist.

Cooper Aerobics Center is within walking distance of Pinkberry, so we decided to give their toppings a calorie count:

Honey Roasted Sunflower Seeds

Calories: 35

Saturated Fat: 0

Italian Caramel

Calories: 40

Saturated Fat: 0.5


Calories: 20

Saturated Fat: 0


Calories: 15

Saturated Fat: 0

Milk Chocolate Crunch

Calories: 80

Saturated Fat: 1


Calories: 80

Saturated Fat: 0

Organic Fruity Bears

Calories: 90

Saturated Fat: 0

Peppermint Shavings

Calories: 50

Saturated Fat: 2


Calories: 10

Saturated Fat: 0

Pomegranate Juice

Calories: 50

Saturated Fat: 0


Calories: 10

Saturated Fat: 0

Shaved Milk Chocolate

Calories: 50

Saturated Fat: 1.5

Shaved White Chocolate

Calories: 40

Saturated Fat: 1.5

Again, choose wisely and remember that we can budget for a cool treat in the 200-calorie range, but beyond that we are looking at more of a meal.

Not all frozen yogurts are created equal
Many frozen yogurts aren’t as nutrient dense as the regular yogurt that you might get in the grocery store. The frozen variety usually contains half the calcium and a bit less protein.

Example (6 ounces):

• Average non-fat vanilla yogurt – 8 grams protein and 250 mg calcium

• Average frozen vanilla yogurt – 5 grams protein and 100 mg calcium

In a regular yogurt you will be able to find “live and active cultures.” These are the probiotics – the healthy bacteria in our bodies that help us absorb certain nutrients, aid in gut motility and other health benefits. You may not find these beneficial cultures in all of the frozen yogurt varieties. Quality frozen yogurt will have at least 10 million “live and active cultures” and carry the National Yogurt Association’s LAC seal. (Our neighbors at Pinkberry have achieved that seal.)

As summer months heat up, enjoy your “fro-yo” treat, but do the math…and you’ll reap the healthy benefits!

For more information on Cooper Clinic Nutrition Services visit our website or call 972.560.2655.

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