TCBY frozen yogurts and sorbets contain very little fat and calories per half-cup serving. However, the addition of artificial sugars and corn syrup, as well as the actual large serving sizes offered, undermine the ability to be a low-calorie, healthy snack food. As a once-in-awhile treat, TCBY yogurts can be part of a healthy diet.
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TCBY yogurts contain probiotics; living microorganisms believed to have a beneficial effect on your body. TCBY lists seven probiotics, including Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus lactis, Lactobacillus paracasei, and Lactocacillus rhamnosus. Live bacteria may possibly help individuals with lactose intolerance by pre-digesting the lactose sugar, but evidence-based science showing that probiotics can improve the immune system, lower cholesterol levels and even prevent the formation of some cancer-causing compounds is seriously lacking. Even if yogurt bacterial cultures are beneficial, there may not not enough in frozen yogurt to have any effect. Most frozen yogurts only contain in the low thousands to tens of millions compared to the 2.6 billion bacteria per gram found in regular plain non-fat refrigerated yogurts.
TCBY offers many flavor options, including chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, peach, blackberry, mango and peanut butter, to name just a few. The overall calories for each of these flavors varies, but range from about 80 calories for a one-half cup serving of fat free chocolate to 130 calories for a one-half cup serving of peanut butter. Total calories recommended per day vary by age and sex, but in general center around 2000 calories per day. Having a snack treat with 80 to 130 calories easily incorporates into part of a healthy diet plan.
TCBY fat-free yogurts and sorbets contain no fat. Low-fat flavors contain 2 g of fat per one-half cup serving, half of which are saturated fat. Saturated fats can increase your levels of LDL or "bad" cholesterol, increasing your risk of heart disease. Some TCBY flavors contain cholesterol. Golden Vanilla, for example, contains 10 mg of cholesterol per half-cup serving, while Strawberry and Peanut Butter contain 5 mg of cholesterol. Sorbets and many of the non-fat flavors do not contain cholesterol. Although dietary intake of cholesterol increases blood cholesterol levels, it does not do so as much as saturated fats do.
Consuming high levels of sodium can increase your blood pressure and may also cause problems for people with osteoporosis by decreasing the amount of calcium they can absorb. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans as well as the Institute of Medicine recommend sodium intake be at about 1500 mg per day, but no more than 2300 mg per day. The sodium content of one-half cup TCBY yogurt and sorbet flavors range from 10 mg to 100 mg. The sorbets have significantly less sodium, ranging from 10 mg to 30 mg, while the yogurts range from 65 mg to 100 mg. All flavors, however, fall within a healthy range for a snack treat, being at most only 10 percent of the total daily recommended intake.
TCBY yogurts and sorbets contain sugar, but overall only 8 percent of your total daily carbohydrate allowance per half-cup serving. The sugars in the fat free yogurts include some combination of maltodextrin, polydextrose, sorbitol, erythritol and sucralose. Sorbets contain various combinations of sugar, corn syrup, fructose and dextrose. Many of these sweetening ingredients are synthetically made, including maltodextrin, polydextrose and sucralose. Sorbitol and erythritol are sugar alcohols that are not easily digested by the body and can have a laxative effect. Corn syrup and fructose are linked to high blood levels of triglycerides and are more readily converted to fatty acids than regular sugar or glucose.
Overall nutrition of TCBY yogurts and sorbets depends upon serving size. A "small" serving, according to TCBY, contains two half-cup servings. An "extra large" contains 4.6 half-cup servings. Thus, a "small" Golden Vanilla yogurt contains 240 calories, 20 mg of cholesterol and 190 mg of sodium in a one-cup size serving, while the "extra large" contains 552 calories, 46 mg of cholesterol and 437 mg of sodium. Choosing an "extra large" turns a reasonable snack treat into a quarter of your daily recommended caloric intake and almost half your recommended sodium intake.