FroYo Healthy In Small Doses

Monday, August 8, 2011 - 7:01am

Cool treat offers healthy alternative to ice cream...if you watch the serving size.

The frozen yogurt craze that's swept the nation is keeping customers cool this summer.

Fro-yo stores are popping up everywhere.

"I think the appeal for most consumers is the control factor," said Alex Leonard, vice president of franchise development for Yogen Fruz. "They basically get to put as much or as little in the cup."

Customers can help themselves to a frozen treat that really does have some healthy benefits.

Lori Brandt and her son, Dmtry, come into the new Yogen Fruz in Miami about three times a week.

"It's got a lot of protein and calcium, and it's delicious and refreshing," Brandt said.

There's even frozen yogurt in the cafeteria and doctors dining area at Memorial Regional Hospital where Sonia Angel is a dietitian.

"It's usually low fat or fat free. It has the active cultures, which is better for you in terms of your digestive system," Angel said.

When comparing a four-ounce serving of frozen vanilla yogurt to the same serving of soft serve ice cream, fro-yo is generally the healthier option.

Counting calories, Carvel's serving of four-ounce vanilla ice cream has 225 compared to 110 in low fat yogurt from Yogen Fruz.

Carvel has 13 fat grams while the yogurt has two grams. But there's not much of a difference in grams of sugar; Carvel's ice cream has 20 grams compared to Yogen Fruz's 19 grams.

"Portion control is the key here because people assume because frozen yogurt is healthier than ice cream they can have any amount," Leonard said.

But sticking to a small portion is difficult when yogurt shops supply customers with large cups.

Some fro-yo flavors contain more than 40 calories per ounce. Then there are all those toppings to choose from. That's when the calories can really start adding up.

"You can mix in a little of the toppings, but don't go overboard with all the sugar and high-fat toppings like peanut butter crunches and the gummy bears," said Angel.

She suggests sticking with the more nutritious add-ons, like fresh fruit and nuts.

"We have some folks who come in here simply for the yogurt who walk out of here with no toppings, no sauces, no nothing," Leonard said.

As with most foods, except for veggies, moderation is key when treating yourself to frozen yogurt.

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