9 Toppings Nutritionists Order at the Frozen Yogurt Store—and 6 They Skip
It’s lower in fat and has gut-healthy probiotics that ice cream can’t claim, but with too much of the wrong toppings, frozen yogurt can turn from a healthful sundae substitute to a diet disaster.
Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries are loaded with vitamins and protective antioxidants, says Angel Planells, MS, RDN, CD, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. “You’re doing your body good by consuming them,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity to get them into your daily intake.” Plus, berries make tasty pairing with chocolate yogurt flavors, which you won’t find with every fruit. These are some of the healthiest fruits for your body.
Get: Tropical fruits
Angela Ginn-Meadow, RDN, LDN, CDE, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson, is a big fan of this 50-calorie tropical topping combination: two tablespoons each of mandarin oranges and pineapple, plus a tablespoon of coconut. “It reminds me of ambrosia,” she says. “It has different textures and different colors adding to the froyo.”
Get: Any fruit, really
Whether you like apples and bananas or mangoes and kiwi, a bit of fruit will give you vitamins and minerals for a nutritional boost in your dessert. Just don’t load your bowl with three servings’ worth. “Any of the fruits are beneficial,” Planells says. “As long as you don’t overdo it, there’s no problem there. You have a dietitian’s blessing.” Click here for tips nutritionists won't tell you for free.
Frozen yogurt is usually non- or low-fat, and compensates the lack of fat with added sugar. Nuts will give you a dose of healthy fats. Planells prefers almonds to peanuts because they tend to be less salty, but he warns not to add too many of either nut, which have about 170 calories in a one-ounce serving. “A handful of nuts for eating by itself is fine, but if you were to take in six or seven nuts throughout a frozen yogurt, that would satisfy me,” he says. Read these signs that you need more protein.
Get: Dark chocolate chips
If you’re craving something chocolate-y, dark chocolate chips are your best option because they’ve got healthy antioxidants that you won’t get from other chocolates. “Any type of candy bar is not going to have the same nutritional qualities,” Planells says. If you aren’t a fan of dark chocolate, opt for milk or white chocolate, though you should stick with just five or six chips no matter what variety, he says.
Get: Chocolate syrup
As long as you stick to a small drizzle, flavor syrups can give your yogurt a flavor boost without putting a huge dent in your calorie intake. “If you do just strawberries with chocolate sauce, that’s OK, or raspberries and kiwi with raspberry syrup,” Ginn-Meadows says. If you already have a high-fat ingredient like brownies or cheesecake cubes in your bowl, though, you might want to skip this one.
Among all the flavor syrups and sauces, honey is the best because it has antioxidants, Ginn-Meadow says. “Even though it’s sugar, honey still has nutrient benefits,” she says.
Get: Graham crackers
Graham cracker crumbs give that sweet baked good taste but, unlike other cookies, can be made with whole grains. Plus, because they’re crushed into tiny crumbs, they’re easier to portion control, Planells says.
Coconut flakes could add some texture to your creamy treat. It has a bit of fat, although some is removed in the dehydration process, but it also gives you a little extra fiber, Ginn-Meadow says.
Skip: Peanut butter cups
The chocolate and peanut butter combination is one of Planell’s favorites, but he recommends opting for mini Reese’s Pieces or chopped ones over a peanut butter cup. “They’re better because you can get a smaller amount in versus the whole peanut butter cup,” he says. “It’s a portion control thing. You get the flavor but don’t overdo it.” This is what 100 calories of candy looks like.
Skip: Cheesecake cubes
Cubes of cheesecake are hefty, making it easy to go overboard. Ginn-Meadow suggests getting a similar flavor with yogurt chips and graham cracker crumbs. “Get innovative without the extra calories,” she says.
If you’re craving that sweet crunch, limit the amount of sugary cereals like Cap’n Crunch or Fruity Pebbles to a tablespoon. “You’re adding extra sugar to a very sugary dessert,” Planells says. A better option would be granola, though you should still portion-control—it might have a health food reputation, but it still tends to be high in fat and calories, he says.
Skip: Candy bars
No surprise here: Candy bars are a calorie-loaded sugar bomb. Ginn-Meadow suggests skipping the candy and making your own deconstructed version. “Think about just a small amount of chocolate chips and whatever you have a taste for,” she says. So if you’re a fan of Snickers, you might top your yogurt with dark chocolate chips, peanuts, and a drizzle of caramel sauce. If you can't resist a chocolate bar, find out how to undo a sugar binge here.
While Planells says anything is fine in moderation, he says you might want to get your brownie fix another time to avoid overindulging with an already sweet treat. “If you’re going to have a brownie, you might as well just eat a brownie instead of adding it to frozen yogurt,” Planells says.
Despite their fruity taste, gummy bears and peach rings are just empty calories. Real fruit will give you the sweet flavor you crave, plus healthy vitamins and minerals. “You might as well just eat a peach vs. the artificial one,” Planells says.