Behind the label: The good (and bad) in Greek yogurt, froyo and ice cream
The skinny: If you’re looking for the ultimate, original Greek yogurt, Fage is your brand. Their 0% line offers no fat and 36 percent of your daily recommended allotment of protein, packing a whopping 18g. A plain flavor has only 7g of sugar.
Not so fast: For the whole story, though, you’ve gotta look at the flavored varieties, too. Strawberry, our pick, triples the carbohydrates and more than doubles the sugar. And somehow, there is 10 percent less protein. The good news? It’s also loaded with calcium, and it’s sweetened with cane sugar, which may be processed, but is also pretty natural, especially compared to chemical sweeteners like aspartame.
Bottom line: Like anything else, yogurt is all about the labels. Compare carefully. When it comes to the Greek variety, look at protein and sugar in particular, then scan the ingredients list. A quick peek at Dannon’s Light & Fit Greek Nonfat Yogurt’s blueberry flavor reveals a coloring agent to get that lovely blue color, plus, fructose and sucralose instead of sugar, potassium sorbate to lengthen shelf life and a few more chemicals we can’t really pronounce.
The skinny: A 4oz serving of TCBY’s Golden Vanilla frozen yogurt has 20 more calories than a 6oz serving of Fage 0% Greek Yogurt and the same amount of sodium. It has 2g fat, 17g sugar (on par with the strawberry Fage flavor) and 4g protein. The first three ingredients are milk—whole, skim and condensed skim. Next up is real sugar. And, it’s got 10 percent vitamin A, 20 percent vitamin D and 20 percent calcium, plus seven different strains of GI-healthy bacteria—more than Fage.
Not so fast: There are some not-so-savory ingredients, like the list of possible stabilizers and emulsifiers. The Dutch Chocolate flavor improves on the nutrition facts with less sugar, fewer calories, and the Strawberry flavor includes a gram more sugar and a gram less protein, as well as some added chemicals in its strawberry base (including the coloring agent Red #40). If you take a look at a grocery store brand, like Yoplait’s Greek Low Fat Frozen Yogurt in Honey Caramel, you’ll see a smidge more fat and sodium as well as 4g more sugar and 6g of protein—that’s 12 percent of your recommended daily value. The ingredients are pretty great though—it’s mostly milk, sugar and natural flavoring, as well as five different strains of bacteria.
Bottom line: Froyo is definitely a dessert you don’t need to justify. It has less sugar than most of your other run-of-the-mill picks, and as long as you check the labels, you won’t be eating a ton of chemicals (and you’ll get probiotics, too!).
The skinny: We took a look at full-fat ice cream—none of this fat-free or low-fat nonsense (which might not be fair, in hindsight, given that we looked at the Fage 0%). And Breyer’s Natural Vanilla does have 20 percent of your daily recommended value of saturated fat. But the sugar is a pretty typical 14g, and its protein an acceptable 3g. It also offers 4 percent of your vitamin A and 8 percent calcium.
Not so fast: Indulging in insane flavors and crazy quantities is what will get you in trouble here. A serving size of ice cream is a half-cup. That’s just a few heaping spoonfuls of creamy goodness. But hey, Vanilla Fudge Swirl has half the fat and the same amount of sugar
Bottom line: The problem with ice cream is…who eats the recommended serving size? In all honesty, ice cream stacks up pretty competitively, given that it’s a legit dessert item. It does have more fat than any yogurt you’re bound to pick, though the quantity of sugar goes toe to toe with regular and frozen yogurt, depending on the flavor you choose. It does have some protein (a little less than froyo) and calcium (8 percent daily recommended value).
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