Be in the know to go with the froyo

Be in the know to go with the froyo

Frozen yogurt is not always healthier than ice cream - it depends on how it's made

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Be in the know to go with the froyo_L
Photo: Edward Wong
It's always great having a cool treat on a hot summer day in Hong Kong. Besides ice cream, 'froyo' is becoming ever more popular, with frozen yogurt shops popping up across the city. Smooth froyos come in many flavours like pomegranate, green tea, taro and pistachio, and those with a sweet tooth can top it up with Oreo crunch, granola, gummy bears or mochi bits.

One of frozen yogurt's attractions is that it sounds like an attractive healthy alternative to ice cream. In Chinese, frozen yogurt is also called 'ice cream yogurt', and with some shops advertising their products as being low-fat and sugar- free, people have come to think of it as a healthy treat.

According to a yp.scmp.com poll, more than 75 per cent of our readers think 'it's at least better than ice cream,' and even 12 per cent think it is 'guilt-free'.

Leung Ka-hang, 18, from Buddhist Tai Kwong Chi Hong College, says: 'The main difference between them [frozen yogurt and normal yogurt] is the texture, but there's little nutritional difference since the ingredients are nearly the same.'

But a discussion with frozen yogurt shop owner Mr Pang reveals the truth behind the product. According to Pang, frozen yogurt can hardly be defined as yogurt. 'Frozen yogurt is the same thing as soft-serve ice cream,' he says.

As he explains, the basic ingredients for frozen yogurt are the same as soft-serve ice cream - powder that is mixed with water or milk and other ingredients like butter, sugar, cream or fruit.

Making frozen yogurt involves adding the yogurt mix powder and a small amount of regular yogurt to a freezer machine. So frozen yogurts only contain a small amount of actual yogurt.

In some cases, Pang explains, ice cream is even healthier than frozen yogurt: 'The key point is the ingredients that are added to the original base.' How unhealthy it is depends on what type of milk is added - whole fat, low-fat, or non-fat - and whether or not butter and cream are added, as well as the amount of sugar put into the mixture.

Sugar and whole-fat milk are often used generously in frozen yogurt shops because fat gives frozen yogurt its smooth 'mouth feel' while sugar gives a better flavour. 'Let's be honest,' says Pang, 'it would be watery and flavorless if it were really sugar- and fat-free.'

For Kathleen Yau Ka-yan, registered dietitian from the Hong Kong Nutrition Association, frozen yogurt can still be a healthier choice than ice cream if consumers pay attention to nutrition.

'Some frozen yogurt shops in America provide nutritional labelling, but not in Hong Kong. Since every shop has its own recipes, the nutritional values vary.'

There's another important difference between regular and frozen yogurt to bear in mind. 'A cup of whole-fat original yogurt contains about 150 calories, but a cup of frozen yogurt can range from 200 to 250 calories, because of the added sugar,' says Yau.

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