Is frozen yoghurt really healthier than ice cream?

Sunday, 6 January 2013 - 11:11am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Frozen yoghurt has earned itself the reputation of being a ‘healthy dessert’, especially now that several new parlours have opened shop in Mumbai. But is it really healthier than ice cream?

On the Carter Road stretch in Bandra, there are three frozen yoghurt parlours — Fro Yo, Yoforia and Cocoberry 3 within a stone’s throw from each other, all representing the new movement in healthy desserts that seems to be sweeping an increasingly health-conscious city.  

At the basic level, what differentiates ice-cream from frozen yoghurt is that the latter is made with yoghurt instead of cream, which also lends it a sour taste. This is also why frozen yoghurt feels lighter than ice-cream. They’re both prepared in the same way, where the ingredients are mixed and churned together at a low temperature until frozen. But is yoghurt as healthy as it is believed to be?

 Since frozen yoghurt is full of probiotic bacteria, it is deemed healthy and is fast becoming the preferred choice of dessert for weight-watching Mumbaikars, who are also spoilt for choice with so many new parlours opening up. But here’s the catch — if you’re opting for frozen flavoured yoghurt because ice-cream is fattening, it might not always be such a wise choice. In fact flavoured frozen yoghurt, which is the popular choice at most of the city’s parlours, contains a healthy dose of sugar.

At the Bandra outlet of Cocoberry — the first to introduce Indians to the concept of frozen yoghurt in 2009 — the serving employee informs me that all of their frozen yoghurt flavours contain ‘double refined’ sugar. Despite this, he says that a 100gms serving contains about 90 calories, as compared to ice-creams which contain 60% more fat. Cocoberry has six flavours (blueberry, berry blast, raspberry, strawberry, cocoa and green apple) which change every week. Plain yoghurt does not figure in their menu as it is not popular amongst customers, I am told. The starting prices for a cup of yoghurt at Cocoberry is Rs89 and go up to Rs270.

Most frozen yoghurt parlours in Mumbai have a range of berry-based yoghurt like raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, which make it difficult to distinguish the taste of one from the other. For this reason, I like the innovative flavours like taro at Yoforia, an international chain that started in April this year. For customers to know what they’re eating, Yoforia gives a break up of its yoghurt. For instance, taro is non fat + non tart, whereas ferrero rocher is low fat + non tart. Rahul Tibrewala, owner of Yoforia, tells me that Yoforia’s flavoured yoghurt contain no added sugar, but just the natural flavour from the fruit. Customers can get their own serving with the toppings and pay for it accordingly (89 paise per gram). Here, eight ounces of yoghurt add up to 25 calories. Smooch, another frozen yoghurt outlet in Juhu, follows the same method of pricing.

Fro Yo is one of the parlours where plain yoghurt is on offer. An employee informs me that their plain yoghurt has negligible amounts  of sugar and I readily put their claim to test. The yoghurt is delicious with a slight sweetness that tastes almost natural. Their other flavours include strawberry, peach and blueberry.  Fro Yo prices start at Rs60 for a small cup and go up to Rs195 for a grand cup, toppings not included.

A cup of yoghurt’s health component greatly depends on the toppings you choose. Most places that offer frozen yoghurt have an extensive variety of toppings ranging from fruits, dry fruits to chocolate sprinkles, chips, oreo cookies and marshmallows. At a lot of places, fruit toppings like berries are canned which destroys the purpose. If healthy is what you’re aiming at, ideal toppings would include fresh fruits, muesli and oats.

When it comes to flavour, frozen yoghurt tastes very different from ice-cream, with its lighter consistency and prominently sour taste. However, with an average cup with toppings costing at least Rs100 (and not necessarily healthy), I would prefer a decadent scoop of ice-cream any day.

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