Is gelato or frozen yogurt healthier? While both desserts are high in sugar, frozen yogurt is more nutritionally balanced. No matter which one you prefer, there are ways to cut calories and get more nutritional bang for your buck.
Both gelato and frozen yogurt are high in carbs and sugars. Frozen yogurt is typically lower in fat and contains probiotics that support digestive health.
Gelato Nutrition Facts
Ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt and ice pops are some of the most popular frozen desserts. Gelato and frozen yogurt are slightly healthier than ice cream, while ice pops have the fewest calories but are low in protein.
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As you probably know, gelato is a frozen dessert that originates in Italy. It's typically denser, softer and lower in fat compared to ice cream, explains the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Ice cream, on the other hand, contains at least 10 percent milk fat and 20 percent milk solids, according to the USDA. Frozen yogurt is made with low-fat or full-fat yogurt, fruits, sweeteners and flavorings.
Read more: 15 Cold Summer Treats Under 200 Calories
The nutritional value of gelato depends on the ingredients used. This frozen dessert comes in hundreds of flavors and can be prepared in a multitude of ways. Its main ingredients are milk, cream and sugar, but unlike ice cream, it rarely contains eggs.
According to New Mexico State University, gelato is less than 5 percent butterfat. Ice cream, by comparison, is around 14 percent butterfat.
Gelato can be more or less healthy, depending on its nutritional value. Restaurant and store-bought versions are often high in sugar, but you can prepare it at home. Here are some popular gelato brands and their nutritional profile, as reported by the USDA:
- Coconut gelato — 200 calories, 4 g protein, 24 g carbs, 19 g sugars and 10 g fat per serving (1/2 cup)
- Peach gelato — 170 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbs, 24 g sugars and 7 g fat per serving (1/2 cup)
- Jam gelato — 170 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbs, 22 g sugars and 7 g fat per serving (1/2 cup)
- Espresso gelato — 140 calories, 4 g protein, 19 g carbs, 18 g sugars and 6 g fat per serving (3.1 oz)
Gelato vs. Frozen Yogurt
When it comes to gelato versus frozen yogurt, the latter might be a better choice. On one hand, it's higher in protein and lower in fat. On the other hand, it contains live probiotic cultures, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus, notes the American Institute for Cancer Research.
As the scientists note, frozen yogurt has fewer beneficial bacteria compared to refrigerated yogurt. This varies from brand to brand, though. Probiotics support digestive health and immune function, states a January 2012 review published in the journal International Scholarly Research Notices. These live microorganisms may also improve blood lipids, protect against cancer and stop diarrhea.
Frozen yogurt isn't necessarily healthier than gelato. Store-bought versions contain added sugar and may add inches to your waistline.
A June 2017 study in Nutrition Research has linked frozen yogurt consumption to an increase in daily energy intake by 23 to 51 calories compared to regular yogurt. This frozen dessert has been also shown to increase the amount of sugar, fat and cholesterol consumed. On the positive side, subjects who ate frozen yogurt had higher intakes of iron and fiber.
Make Your Own Frozen Yogurt
Like ice cream or gelato, frozen yogurt may or may not be healthy, depending on the ingredients used. Frozen vanilla yogurt, for example, boasts 100 calories, 3 grams of protein and 22 grams of carbs, including 16 grams of sugars per serving (a half-cup), reports the USDA. Other varieties, such as buttermilk frozen yogurt, deliver up to 240 calories and 29 grams of sugars per half-cup.
Read more: 10 Desserts That Won't Derail Your Diet
This sugary treat is slightly higher in protein than gelato, but the difference is negligible. Whether you're on a diet or trying to eat healthily, consider making frozen yogurt at home. All you need is a cup of fat-free, plain yogurt, fresh fruits and stevia for sweetness.
Mix everything in a food processor, pour in a bowl and freeze for a few hours or overnight. Use Greek yogurt for extra protein, oats for extra fiber or protein powder for more flavor and nutrition. Better yet, try this LIVESTRONG.com recipe for Yummy Chocolate Frozen Yogurt, which has roughly 100 calories and 7 grams of protein.
- Northern Illinois Food Bank: "Ice Cream or Gelato, Sherbet or Sorbet… What’s the Difference?"
- USDA: "Ice Cream Standard"
- New Mexico State University: "Drink More Milk, Eat More Gelato"
- USDA: "Coconut Gelato"
- USDA: "Peach Gelato"
- USDA: "Jam Gelato"
- USDA: "Espresso Gelato"
- American Institute for Cancer Research: "Health Talk: Does Frozen Yogurt Contain the Live Active Cultures That Make It a Probiotic?"
- International Scholarly Research Notices: "Health Benefits of Probiotics: A Review"
- Nutrition Research: "Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream Were Less Healthy Than Yogurt, and Adding Toppings Reduced Their Nutrition Value: Evidence From 1999-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey"
- USDA: "Frozen Vanilla Yogurt"
- USDA: "Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt"