Q: Does frozen yogurt contain the live active cultures that make it a probiotic?
A: Most frozen yogurt today does include some live probiotic cultures, though products vary and may not provide the same level found in refrigerated yogurt. Like refrigerated yogurt, frozen yogurt starts with pasteurized milk and adds the two specific live cultures, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilis, that characterize yogurt. Other ingredients such as various forms of sugar, flavoring and possibly fruit, stabilizers and cream are also added. Most of the live bacterial cultures survive the flash-freezing technique used to produce frozen yogurt. Variations in production techniques, bacteria type and other ingredients mean all products aren’t the same according to Dr. Simin Meydani, Professor of Nutrition at Tufts University.
No federal standards govern production of frozen yogurt, although the National Yogurt Association sponsors a voluntary labeling program. The Live & Active Culture seal on containers of frozen and refrigerated yogurt can only be used on products that meet specific criteria indicating a significant amount of live and active cultures present at the time the yogurt is produced. The number of cultures needed to meet these criteria is lower for frozen than for refrigerated yogurt, though many frozen yogurts may meet the higher standard.
As with refrigerated yogurt, don’t let frozen yogurt’s potential as a probiotic lead you to overlook the excess calories that can come from overindulging. Check the serving size on container labels where calories are listed as a reminder that it’s best served in a small dish (sometimes called a “custard cup” or traditionally sized coffee cup), or in a cereal bowl filled with a cup of unsweetened, nutrient-rich fruit for fewer calories.
Try these Berry Yogurt Popsicles for a sweet and healthy, yogurt-filled treat.