It's tough to define healthy diet foods, partly because any good diet allows for some treats in moderation. While frozen yogurt is healthier than full-fat ice cream, that doesn't necessarily make it a nutritious food great for weight loss. Before you order an extra-large cone, familiarize yourself with what you're eating and what the alternatives might be.
A 1-cup serving of most frozen yogurts has about 220 calories, 5 grams of protein, 6 grams of fat and 35 grams of sugar, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's nutrition database. In contrast, a cup of ice cream can be 500 to 600 calories with less protein and more fat and sugar. Frozen yogurt also has the benefit of including probiotics, bacteria beneficial for digestive health. According to Cleveland Clinic, probiotics can help prevent or treat diarrhea, yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal infections, colds and flu.
What You Add
The way you serve your frozen yogurt plays a big role in how well it fits into your diet. Just as you can temper the nutritional benefits of a plate of spinach by drenching it in melted butter and cream, you can easily pile calories and fat onto a dish of nonfat frozen yogurt. Registered dietitian Maureen Callahan, writing for "Cooking Light" magazine, suggests opting for fresh and nutritious ingredients like 1/4 cup of strawberries for just 15 calories or 1/4 cup of blueberries and 1 1/2 tablespoons of almonds for 70 calories. Avoid add-ons like chocolate chips, toffee, hot fudge, caramel and candy bar pieces to minimize added sugar, fat and calories.
Frozen Yogurt Alternatives
If you love fro-yo but don't want to bust your diet, consider healthier alternatives. With the help of an ice cream maker, you can churn your own nutritious, nonfat or low-fat frozen yogurt and control the amount of added sugar. Another choice is ice milk, which does not have probiotics but typically has less sugar and fewer calories than frozen yogurt or ice cream. A third alternative is eating regular or Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is a healthier choice than frozen yogurt because it has more protein and less sugar.
Consider Your Goals
Compromise and sustainability are big parts of following a healthy diet. Whether your goal is to lose, gain or maintain weight, you can develop a diet with your doctor that allows for occasional splurges and still inspires you to stick with it in the long term. Frozen yogurt's nutritional profile doesn't make it the best food choice for weight loss, but it's certainly possible to fit moderate amounts of it into a well-rounded eating plan that keeps you on track to fulfill your goals.