Frozen Yogurt vs. Ice Cream Nutrition

by Ellen Douglas

When it comes to frozen desserts, label reading is more crucial than knowing the difference between yogurt and cream. While it’s true that regular frozen yogurt is healthier than regular ice cream, the ranges of both frozen desserts are broad. In practical terms, this means that a light ice cream may be considerably lower in fat and calories than a premium frozen yogurt. Check the nutrition facts on the carton before making your purchase, and keep your servings to about ½ cup.


Traditional, or “regular,” ice cream uses cream or milk containing about 10 percent butterfat, along with sweeteners, flavorings and thickeners. Regular ice cream is somewhere in the middle of the ice cream health scale, with light and reduced-fat ice creams containing fewer calories and less fat than regular ice cream, and premium and super premium ice creams containing more fat and calories than regular ice cream. Frozen yogurt comes from nonfat or regular yogurt that is mixed with flavorings, sweeteners and thickeners, then churned and frozen in the manner of regular ice cream. The beneficial bacteria found in regular yogurt do not survive the freezing process.

Fat and Cholesterol

Ideally, your frozen dessert should contain no more than 4 grams fat, notes the Brown University Medical School. The fat quotient of frozen desserts varies considerably, depending on the amount of fat in the cream, milk or yogurt used as the primary ingredient. In general, ice cream contains between 6 and 16 grams of fat per ½ cup serving, with premium ice creams containing between 17 and 24 fat grams per serving. Frozen yogurt ranges from the 0 grams fat contained in ½ cup of nonfat yogurt brands, to the 1 to 3 fat grams in low-fat frozen yogurt, and the 4 to 9 fat grams in premium frozen yogurt desserts. The average frozen yogurt and light ice creams take up about 4 percent of your daily allotment for cholesterol, while regular and premium ice cream represent at least 7 percent of your recommended daily amount of cholesterol.

Calories and Carbohydrates

Depending on brands and flavoring, regular ice cream contains between 130 and 190 calories. Factoring in light and premium ice creams, the caloric range runs from 90 to 340 calories in each ½ cup scoop. Regular, or low-fat, frozen yogurt has between 70 and 140 calories in each ½ cup serving, with the entire range of frozen yogurt running from 90 to 190 calories per ½ cup scoop. The carbohydrate count has less to do with the type of dairy product used than on the sweeteners and flavorings. Regular and light chocolate ice cream, as well as chocolate frozen yogurt, all have about 18 to 19 grams of carbs per serving.


Ice cream and frozen yogurt are both calcium-rich dairy products. The average chocolate frozen yogurt and ice cream products contain between 72 and 85 grams calcium. Milk-based desserts like ice cream and frozen yogurt deliver between 7 and 9 percent of the calcium you need each day.

Additional Nutrients

You’ll get many of the vitamins and minerals offered by milk in frozen yogurt and ice cream. Varieties featuring real fruit may provide additional nutrients. The average ½ cup serving of chocolate frozen yogurt or chocolate ice cream provides at least 5 percent of the protein you need each day. The dairy desserts also deliver 2 percent of the recommended daily values of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin A, as well as several B-complex vitamins, including folate. The ice cream varieties are slightly higher in these nutrients than the average frozen yogurt. Some frozen dessert makers add extra vitamin C to preserve flavor and color, meaning that your vitamin C content may vary from 1 percent to 10 percent.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or