If you’re trying to keep tabs on healthy choices this spring and summer, you may be tempted to reach for frozen yogurt instead of a traditional ice cream. But is frozen yogurt healthier than ice cream? We asked one of our resident dietitians, Alex Oskian, to give us the scoop (see what we did there?) on whether frozen yogurt is the healthier option.

frozen yogurt vs. ice cream pin

Frozen Yogurt vs. Ice Cream: Which is Healthier?

Question: Are there any myths or misconceptions about ice cream vs. frozen yogurt?

Alex: Most people hear the word “yogurt” and assume frozen yogurt is the healthier choice over ice cream. People also believe that ice cream contains way more calories than frozen yogurt. Although some frozen yogurt options have fewer calories, this isn’t always the case and isn’t always the healthier option.


Question: So, if calories are (sometimes) comparable, what are the biggest nutritional differences between frozen yogurt and ice cream?

Alex: Frozen yogurt is a lower-fat version of ice cream. Both are made with similar ingredients, but one is made with cultured milk and one with cream. Ice cream has around 10% milk fat, whereas frozen yogurt usually has between 2-6% milk fat. So, the main nutritional difference between the two is the fat content. 


Question: If frozen yogurt contains less milk fat, does that make it healthier? Does ice cream have more sugar than frozen yogurt?

Alex: Just because frozen yogurt is usually lower in fat doesn’t necessarily make it healthier than ice cream. Frozen yogurt usually contains just as much, if not more, sugar to improve its taste and texture.


Question: How are frozen yogurt and ice cream made?

Alex: Frozen yogurt and ice cream are made similarly; both contain a milk product, milk fat, sugar, and additives to provide flavor and texture. Both also contain ingredients to help the product remain shelf-stable. Each ingredient is precisely measured and mixed in a specific order to create the base.

The base is then heated to improve the consistency and pasteurized to remove any pathogenic bacteria. From there, the products are cooled down to start the freezing and aerating process. After the base is warmed and pasteurized, live yogurt cultures may be added to frozen yogurt.

At this point, flavor and color are added to the product. When the freezing occurs, air is injected into the mix to help create a creamy product we all love and enjoy! Mix-ins can be added at the end of the freezing and aerating process for additional flavor combinations.


Question: You’ve mentioned probiotics a few times; what are they, and how do they affect your health?

Alex: Probiotics are the “friendly bacteria” that live in your gut and can help improve many aspects of your health. Everything from digestion to immune health and even some aspects of mental health are impacted by gut health (Wang et all, 2016). Make sure that the frozen yogurt you consume says it contains active and live cultures.


Question: Is there anything else people should keep in mind when making the choice between frozen yogurt and ice cream?

Alex: All the things we’ve discussed today only apply to the base of your dessert. Additives (like chocolate, nuts, candy, and flavor) can increase the fat content. So, even if you’re choosing a frozen yogurt made with minimal, fresh ingredients that contain probiotics, this “healthier” option can quickly become just as high calorie as ice cream!

At the end of the day, there isn’t a big enough difference between ice cream and frozen yogurt to make a meaningful difference in your health. It is possible to incorporate either into a healthy diet if you account for the calories and focus on getting lots of veggies and protein in your other meals and snacks. 

Choose the product you enjoy most, plan it into your day, eat it slowly and mindfully, and then move on with your life!

And, if you need help doing this, hire a WAG coach who can help you move away from “good food” vs. “bad food” mindsets and work towards your health goals while enjoying the foods you love.