Is fro-yo more fattening than ice cream? -
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Is fro-yo more fattening than ice cream?

Jill Koegel is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday.Read more from Jill here.

A couple of times a week, my kids like to have a sweet dessert, and one of our favorites is ice cream. Most of the time, to make it a little healthier, we stay home and eat Edy's 's Slow Churned Rich & Creamy 1/2 fat Ice Cream.

At my son's request, I recently purchased Edy's Key Lime Frozen Yogurt, which to most people would seem healthier because it's “yogurt.” When we read the label, its ingredients and nutrition facts were very similar to Edy's 1/2 fat Ice Cream.

So, is frozen yogurt healthier than ice cream?
Overall, frozen yogurt is not healthier, especially not the way the average American eats it. Large portions and toppings (like candy and chocolate) can make frozen yogurt just as bad, or even worse, than ice cream. While the Edy's frozen yogurt had a little more calcium (4 percent more) and live cultures which help digestion, it also had more sugar and surprisingly, more cholesterol compared to the 1/2 fat ice cream. They both had 120 calories per 1/2 cup serving.

Is the store-bought kind better than eating it out?
It depends on where you are getting it, and what you are having. Frozen yogurt that is made with all natural ingredients doesn't guarantee that those ingredients are things you would want to be eating. Just because an ingredient comes from nature doesn't mean your body knows how to utilize it. For example, carrageenan, which comes from red seaweed and is a common additive in yogurt, can cause inflammation and be hard on the digestive tract. But, if you are eating frozen yogurt versus full fat ice cream, gelato or custard, and you are weighing it in when you pay, your treat is probably less detrimental to your health.

If a fro-yo or ice cream joint has nutritional facts and ingredients available, take a peek. Look out for all of the different labels for sugar, artificial colorings, sweeteners, and stabilizers, which are usually indicated by a tough-to-pronounce name. It doesn't mean you can't eat there. It just means that you should limit your serving and the frequency.

Does frequency make a difference, and does it make a bigger difference if you eat more than one serving?
Yes. Most serving sizes are small! To get an idea of serving sizes, measure a cup scoop of ice cream and put it in an ice cream bowl. Or, weigh your dessert. A 1/2 cup serving of Edy's Ice Cream is listed as 62 grams, which is just over 2 ounces. Is this less than you would normally eat, and by how much? Does dessert take up too many of your weekly calories, or is it a once-a-week treat?

Are toppings really to blame?
Yes. This is an obvious one. Adding toppings also adds excess fat and sugar to an already-excessive treat!

Try fruit toppings, nuts, and anything else that is not from a package. This will help make your dessert healthier and may help to better satisfy your craving.

I've written about dessert before, and I'll admit it again — ice cream and frozen yogurt are two of my favorite foods! Being careful about how much, how often, and how it's prepared can help any food fit in the lifestyle of a healthy, active person. Remember, the occasional ice cream outing, or a weekly sweet treat is more sweet when it isn't a daily occurrence.

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