Just Because It’s Got The Word “Yogurt” In It Doesn’t Mean Fro Yo Is A Health Food

It’s not like anyone is walking into a frozen yogurt shop and shouting, “Bring me my vegetables!” but even the mere presence of the word “yogurt” might connote healthiness to some of us. And hey, it’s not ice cream, which everyone knows isn’t healthy, so it must be kinda good for you, right? All those yogurt cultures (depending on the store) and inherent dairy goodness? Alas, dear fro yo eaters,  the word “yogurt” does not a health food make.

Even before you pile on the gummy worms and chocolate chips, frozen yogurt has a lot of stuff in it that isn’t in regular yogurt. Yogurt in its simplest form is curdled milk and cultures, but fro yo will bring you along on a sweetened, additive-filled ride. Not that additives are necessarily bad, but they’re not necessarily awesome, either, notes the Huffington Post. There are differing opinions on that front, to be sure, but one thing is clear — you can’t rely just on a food’s name.

“The fact that there’s yogurt in the name in no way exonerates what’s in your cup,” David Katz, M.D., founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center tells HuffPo’s “Unreal Eats.” “It’s not an alternative to yogurt, it’s an alternative to ice cream.”

In some frozen yogurt sold a national chains, there are, however, additives like the thickener carrageenan, an ingredient researchers have linked to adverse health effects in the past.

“The science isn’t easy to sort out,” says Marion Nestle, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, of carrageenan. “If it’s a worry, it’s easily avoided since it’s labeled on food packages.” The key word here? If.

The truth is that any of the artificial ingredients included in Huffpo’s video haven’t been proven to be harmful, or it would follow that perhaps they would be banned from foods, but there are reasons some give pause to things like “natural flavor” which is made from the perineal glands of a beaver. Certainly, beavers are natural, but perhaps not the natural flavor you have in mind.

“The fact that we don’t know something is harmful doesn’t prove that it’s not,” Katz notes. “I often think of [additives] as an indicator that this food has been moved a long way from its place in nature.”

It comes down to this: No, eating frozen yogurt is not the same as having real yogurt with healthy toppings as a snack. If, in your view, additives are unhealthy, then you should realize which foods they’re in, like fro yo. If you’re cool with additives and don’ think they’re unhealthy, just know that frozen yogurt probably has more sugar, fat and calories than regular yogurt, especially when you pile on the toppings.

Indulging yourself and immersing your mouth in a sweet frozen yogurt treat now and again? No problem with that. We’re only fro-yo-crazy humans, after all.

*Note: Consumerist reader Kevin would like to point out that the presence of artificial ingredients does not, in and of itself, make a food unhealthy.

The Sad, Sad Truth About Frozen Yogurt [Huffington Post]