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Nutrition Bites: 11-29-12 

As Americans have made more of an effort to become more health conscious in recent years, it shows in their food choices. Frozen yogurt has exploded in popularity in recent years. Since frozen yogurt is often perceived as a “guilt-free” health food, it’s easy to overindulge. It’s important to note that frozen yogurt (affectionally known as “froyo”) can be just as calorie-packed as any other dessert. It’s a food that is low in fat, but high in sugar. Here are some health-conscious tips to keep in mind when building that yogurt cup:

Begin at the topping bar:
Crumbled cookies and chocolate bars — they may not seem like much, but smothering yogurt in these toppings can add up to more calories than the yogurt itself. For topping options look for fresh fruits to add instead. In fact, try hitting the topping bar first by filling the bottom of your cup with your favorite fruits. Afterward, top the fruit off with your choice of yogurt. This way the fruit is the main course, the cup is more nutrient-packed and the yogurt is simply mixing in as a topping.

Look for live, active cultures:
If live cultures exist in it, froyo does offer some potential probiotic benefits. Probiotics promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive system which lead to efficient digestion. Usually, a dedicated frozen yogurt shop keeps the live cultures in, which gives the tart flavor. Other dessert places tend to tack a frozen yogurt option inside, which tends to be homogenized. The homogenization process ends up killing the live cultures in the end product. Removing the healthy bacteria tends to give the yogurt a sweeter, more appealing taste, but it loses the digestive benefits.

Consider portion control:
Just because it’s not ice cream doesn’t mean that you can eat frozen yogurt to your heart’s content. It’s important to be careful with the gigantic cup that self-serve frozen yogurt shops tend to have. The large cup distorts perspective on sensible portions. Topping off a standard cup of froyo can add upwards to 300-400 calories, which mostly comes from sugar. For a more sensible size, stick to 6-8 ounces of yogurt, which would fill up about half of the standard sized cup. It’s a serving that is more friendly to the wallet and the waistline.

Whichever route you choose to take with frozen yogurt, moderation is key to sensibility. Just like with any other snack, as long as portion sizes are kept reasonable, it’s not too bad to indulge in something sweet once in awhile.

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