Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt Buying Guide
Getting Started

Ice cream. It's a mix of dairy ingredients, sweeteners, and flavors, often with stabilizers and emulsifiers. By federal law, it must generally be at least 10 percent milkfat by weight (8 percent with a mix-in) and weigh at least 4.5 pounds per gallon. Light has at least one-third fewer calories or half the fat of the full-fat version. Low-fat has 3 grams of fat or less per serving. "Premium" is a marketing term, with no federal definition. But premium ice cream tends to contain more fat and less air than others.

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Frozen Yogurt
It tends to have less fat and fewer calories than ice cream. Unlike regular yogurt, frozen is not subject to an official government "standard of identity." Some frozen yogurts contain live and active bacteria (look for an "LAC" seal), which may provide health benefits.

Gelato. It has an intense flavor and is served semi-frozen. Italian-style gelato is denser than ice cream, with less air. Typically, gelato has more milk than cream and contains sweeteners, egg yolks, and flavoring, according to the International Dairy Foods Association.

Taste
As you go down the Ratings, the ice creams tend to be a bit more gummy or have flavor that's generic or less pronounced. The best frozen yogurts have a slightly eggy taste, a bit like vanilla custard. The also-rans tend to have more flaws, including a foamy or airy texture or slight bitterness. The Greek frozen yogurts are less sweet than most of the others, with a big sour-dairy flavor.

Nutrition
Most of the ice creams rated Good for nutrition. No one would claim that ice cream is great for your health, but some have half the calories, fat, or sugar of others. The listed nutrition information is for an official serving: a half-cup, which is almost mythical. Nutrition scores are based on calories, sugars, fat, and other nutrients.

Most of the frozen yogurts rated Very Good for nutrition. They tend to have less fat, fewer calories, and more calcium than ice cream. The Greek frozen yogurts contain 6 to 9 grams of protein compared with 2 to 4 grams in the regular frozen yogurts.

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