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Food Showdown: Know Before You FroYo

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It's safe to say that the frozen yogurt trend has taken the US by storm—and it doesn't show any signs of stopping. Several ''FroYo'' franchises have cropped up over the past few years, including Pinkberry, Red Mango, Orange Leaf, and many others with tasty names and even tastier flavor and topping offerings. Some of these yogurt shops claim that their product is a healthier alternative to ice cream, made with ''all-natural,'' wholesome ingredients, including good-for-you probiotic cultures to balance your digestive system. But can you believe the hype? Between two big-name frozen yogurt chains, Pinkberry and Red Mango, which has the most ''natural'' yogurt with the fewest ingredients?

The Winner: Red Mango!
Not only does Red Mango's Original yogurt win in terms of having fewer added ingredients, but it also has 20 fewer calories per serving than Pinkberry's Original flavor.

Here are the ingredients lists for the Original (''tart'') flavor of yogurt for both chains:

Pinkberry: Nonfat milk, sugar, nonfat yogurt (pasteurized nonfat milk, live and active cultures), nonfat yogurt powder (nonfat milk, culture), fructose, dextrose, natural flavors, citric acid, guar gum, maltodextrin, mono- and diglycerides, rice starch

Active live cultures: s. thermophilus, l. bulgaricus, l. acidophilus.

100 calories per half a cup
20 grams of sugar

Red Mango: Nonfat Yogurt (Skim Milk, Natural Flavor, Guar Gum, Live & Active Cultures), Filtered Water, Pure Cane Sugar, and less than 1% of Sodium Citrate and Potassium Citrate (natural buffering agents).

Active live cultures: S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus, L. lactis, L. acidophilus, and GanedenBC30® (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086)

80 calories per half a cup
19 grams of sugar
Notice that besides plain old yogurt, Pinkberry also includes added milk, powdered yogurt, and sugar, while Red Mango only contains nonfat yogurt. Additionally, Pinkberry's yogurt contains three types of sugar--plain sugar (the second ingredient), fructose and dextrose, whereas Red Mango's ingredients simply list ''pure cane sugar." These differences can be seen in the slightly higher sugar content on the Pinkberry label. Pinkberry's yogurt also contains mono- and diglycerides, which are used as thickeners and can be made either synthetically or naturally. Finally, Pinkberry's yogurt contains guar gum and rice starch for additional thickening agents, and Red Mango only uses guar gum.

As far as those good-for-you probiotics, Red Mango's yogurt includes five active live probiotic cultures as compared to three in Pinkberry's yogurt. Keep in mind, though, that there is still more research to be done on the effectiveness of probiotics, and it's possible that some of the cultures could die during the freezing process, so don't start self-medicating with frozen yogurt every time you have a stomachache!

However, despite its mostly superior stats, Red Mango isn't perfect: note that both yogurt chains include ''natural flavor'' in their ingredients lists, which can really mean any number of things since the FDA doesn't exercise any regulation over the phrase. Red Mango's yogurt also still contains a lot of sugar (19 grams, which is equal to nearly 5 teaspoons!) and almost twice the sodium of Pinkberry's yogurt (50 mg vs. 110 mg). But overall, if you're looking for a sweet, nonfat treat with a shorter ingredients list and fewer calories to boot, stick with Red Mango—just go easy on the toppings and choose fresh fruit and nuts over sugary candies and syrups.

For more information on frozen yogurt and other creamy frozen treats, check out this fun video!

Do you FroYo? What's your favorite FroYo chain?

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KATHYJO56 11/18/2020
These look yummy Report
MUSICNUT 7/20/2020
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
VHAYES04 7/4/2020
Ty Report
Thanks! Report
Thank you so much Report
Good to know Report
I can't seem to find it anymore. I used to find it at McDonald's. But they don't carry it anymore. Report
I definitely want to try these Report
Several FroYo shops in my town, none of which carry those names, so article is unhelpful. I buy my froyo in the grocery store. Report
Several FroYo shops in my town, none of which carry those names, so article is unhelpful. I buy my froyo in the grocery store. Report
I like Orange Leaf. I find the problem is that the cup is too big, making eyeballing a reasonable portion difficult. I use a cup divider (Orange Leaf's makes three sections) only put froyo in one section. Report
Here in Northeast Ohio we have Menchie's and Lemonberry. I prefer Lemonberry. It doesn't help that there is one not even 10 minutes away from me. Report
I can’t wait to try these delicious treats! I am going shopping for the ingredients today. Report
I have to confess, I love the local Red Mango store. I do stick with a small serving size and top with only fresh fruit. They always have a nice selection of blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, pineapply, mango, red raspberries, etc, so I feel like for an occasional treat it's a pretty healthy choice. Report
I've never been to either one, but I really do love frozen yogurt. Vanilla, with no toppings. I generally buy Stonyfield Farm's - but I do know there is a lot of sugar in it. Trader Joe's has a soy frozen yogurt that I also like very much. Report
Looks wonderful!! Report
I have only been to Froyo and I do not like the fact that they are so expensive. Report
I never heard of either of these places before, but found out that they actually do have them here. We have one close that is called Fro Yo that I like a lot and one close to the pool called Golden Spoon. I haven't been to either for a long time, though. Mainly I get a carton at the store if I am going to get frozen yogurt because it costs less. I would like it if I could find an all natural one, though. I've tried freezing my own, but that comes out really bad when I try it. Report
I don't know of any of these places.
I tend to think, however, that frozen yogurt should be looked at the same way as fast food - not the best option.
Best option must be home-made, same as cooking for meals. It is also the best option for frozen ice treats (use fruit juice), as also for jelly (jello?) - use pure fruit juice and some gelatine leaf (or vegetarian equivalent).
I used to do these all the time when my sons were wee (not the frozen yogurt - I'm talking sort of 20 years ago, here). Report
We have NONE of these franchises where I live!!!! :(
And we have warm weather most of the year here.
Go figure!! Report
Aside from the usual popups, I only have access to a Pinkberry, which I've found to be delicious....I guess my budget limitations are a good thing eh! Report
The only one of those I know of is 45 min. away. We have an Orange Leaf which is similar to Red Mango, I believe. We love our Orange Leaf and it has some nutrition online.

rumbamel Report
I don't like yogurt: I don't eat it. My mother, however, has been freezing her yogurt for over 35 years. Report
We have a Red Mango here, haven't tried them yet. Report
Frozen yogurt is a delightful treat for me! My favorite! But, I usually indulge in the NSA versions. ("no sugar added")

When I indulge in refined sugars, I seem to develop cravings for more (and more..) so I do my best to just abstain from them. Report
Haven't heard of them. Report
There is no such thing around here, never heard of either.. sounds great though.. my favorite is tofutti, but none sold near here anymore either.. Report
Our local shop is "FroYo Nation," serves YoCream which has many of the extra ingredients in low/non-fat cottage cheese, but is under 110 cal. for any flavor (83gm serving), most flavors have 4 cultures. The Gk. ones only have two. But no diglycerides. I guess it's about as good as any product owned ultimately by Dannon, but I'd guess it was better when it was an independent. FroYo Nation, at least, emphasizes topping with in-season LOCAL fruit, and using recyclable, compostable utensils and cups. Report
We don't have a froyo place here, though most ice cream stands offer at least one frozen yogurt flavor. I've taken a serving of chobani and thrown it in the freezer for a cold treat on hot days. If you stir while it's freezing, it will stay nice and smooth. Report
They just opened a Red Mango here and I'm loving in. I love the lemonade flavor covered with fresh fruit. I consider this my "healthier" treat! Report
Yogurtland is the best tasting...I guess I will have to check out the ingredients now. Don't get me wrong. I am gonna keep eating it but just way smaller portion size and I don't put all those toppings anyways so that won't be a problem. Report
Chibani, Fage or Three Gods Greek yougurt and fresh or frozen fruit, I prefer the mixed berry from Costco or Aldi is all you need not some trumped up over priced amagemation of non natural ingredients and added sugar. Report
Their flavors are delicious and their beautiful, seasonal FRESH fruit is the Perfect Topping. Try It!
Yogenfruz is awesome & delicious! With any of them, watch the serving size, like LEB0401 said, and choose wisely on toppings to save calories & money Report
I'd rather just have some plain, fat-free Greek yogurt; much healthier. Report
Orange Leaf is amazing even without any toppings! Report
Never heard of either of these or frozen yogurt shops, for that matter. Are they in Michigan? Report
Does something have to be absolutely perfect to get a good rating, or is "much better than the alternative" good enough?
I'm always looking for the better choice. So Red Mango is it for me just now. Report
That looks delicious have to try it. Report
I've never heard of Red Mango. I've had Pink Berry twice and I've enjoyed their original flavor. However, Yogurtland is hands down my favorite. To ensure that my frozen yogurt stays a healthy treat, I try to skip the toppings. The yogurt is good enough on it's own. Report
I just heard about frozen yogurt stores a couple of weeks ago when my sister and mom went to one. Had never heard of them before that, but now I'm interested! There don't seem to be too many here in MN though I did find one fairly close by called TCBY; do you know anything about that compared to the other two brands you mentioned? Report
We have one called 'Cravings' which opened a few months ago. Very yummy. It certainly can cost a lot when you add in the toppings. Report
menchie's! and I looove popping boba on my froyo..

but you've gotta be careful with those self-serve, pay by the ounce froyo places because the cups they give you are HUGE and they shoot the yogurt out at lightning speed to get you to buy more. i always put it on the scale before i add any toppings and adjust as necessary. Report