Part III: Foods Containing Probiotics, Prebiotics Or Both ~ Frozen Yogurt & Smoothies
This is Part III of an ten-part article. Use the article index below to click among the pages. In this section, we take a look at brands of frozen yogurt and smoothies that have emerged with probiotic, prebiotic and synbiotic benefits.
Frozen yogurt has returned with a vengeance. The heavily-sweetened, low-in-cultures, frozen “yogurt” of the 1980s and 1990s is, in some instances, gone, replaced by the likes of Red Mango USA. The company emphasizes on their website that its frozen yogurt is tart, nonfat, and carries the “Live and Active Cultures” Seal of the National Yogurt Association. TCBY, noting the success of Red Mango and similar chains, has removed all ice cream from their shops, and is attempting to recapture their glory days by promoting their active, live cultures and the lowfat nature of their products.
As is true with regular yogurt, it can pay to look for regional or local brands, though mail order is less common with frozen yogurt than with the refrigerated product.
Paradise Yogurt in San Diego notes that “All of our yogurts contain probiotics in excess of 100 million active yogurt cultures per gram at the time of manufacture and have the National Yogurt Association (NYA) developed Live & Active Cultures seal. Additionally, our frozen yogurt contains two additional beneficial live active cultures than the minimum requirement for the NYA Live & Active Cultures seal.”
Fraiche Yogurt of Palo Alto makes both fresh and frozen organic yogurts in their shop. They assert that their probiotic culture “survives the freezing process, so you’ll enjoy all the same health benefits as you would with our fresh yogurt.” (Photo at right.)
Sweet Scoops, a frozen yogurt maker in New Hampshire, makes what may be the creamiest frozen yogurt I’ve ever had, with a very mild tartness—so mild, in fact, that I’d probably identify the product as ice cream if I couldn’t see the carton. Sweet Scoops has done tests, and their live culture count is above the minimum set by the NYA for frozen yogurt, but the NYA’s “Live and Active Cultures” seal is still voluntary; Sweet Scoops chooses not to use it. Try the Mint Chip or the Mudslide with Chocolate Chunks.
Cold Stone Creamery has introduced NrGize Lifestyle Yogurt smoothies and Tart & Tangy nonfat frozen yogurt with “naturally occurring probiotic cultures.”
And as if there weren’t enough probiotic frozen dessert in America, Whole Foods Market is selling the Cyclops brand of frozen yogurt, imported from New Zealand!
Smoothies and Related Beverages
Manufacturers of regular yogurts, known in the trade as refrigerated yogurts (as opposed to frozen yogurts), see yogurt smoothies as a way to extend their product lines. But at least one manufacturer that does not make refrigerated yogurt is now making yogurt smoothies. From the way these products are pitched, it’s clear that the target market consists of women with some education (and disposable income). It’s also evident that the manufacturers expect these to be used as meal replacements in some instances.
Healthy Dairy sells “all natural nonfat yogurt smoothies” that contain “1 Million Probiotics Bacteria per gram,” although the type of probiotics are specified nowhere on the website (when questioned, Dr. Richard Kozlenko of Healthy Dairy told me that these are S. thermophilus, L. bulgaricus and L. acidophilus). Healthy Dairy is a synbiotic, with 4 grams of prebiotics per serving. The probiotics are also “Powered by Susta.” Susta is Healthy Dairy’s “unique sweetening ingredient” that “…is an all-natural, low-sugar, low-glycemic, antioxidant, soluble fiber and nutrient-rich system that helps support healthy blood sugar levels and healthy energy.” One point here: one million probiotics bacteria per gram is a very low number for concentrations of probiotics. As previously mentioned, The National Yogurt Association insists on a level one hundred times greater than that (100 million live, active cultures per gram at time of manufacture) if a product is to be allowed to carry its “Live & Active Cultures” seal, and some manufacturers regard that level as much too low. Even frozen yogurt must contain 10 million live, active cultures per gram at time of manufacture to be able to carry this seal.
Stonyfield Farm now manufactures six flavors of organic Smoothies. All contain “cultured pasteurized organic lowfat milk” as the first ingredient (effectively, it’s organic lowfat yogurt). Flavors range from Banana Berry to Vanilla to Peach. Organic sugar (naturally milled) is the sweetener. I have seen some complaints that these smoothies contain excessive amounts of sugar compared to most yogurts. But most yogurts in single-serve cartons are in 6-ounce portions, and most of these Smoothies are sold in 10-ounce portions.
Dannon’s Frusion beverages are billed as “a delicious blend of real fruit and creamy lowfat yogurt.” The first ingredient in each Frusion is indeed lowfat yogurt, and these products, which Dannon bills as “the new breakfast champion,” are admirably low in fat. Disappointing, however, is the use of the cheap sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, in all six flavors; and these smoothies are higher in sugars than some others.
Satiety Smoothies are beverages available from Lightfull Foods. The idea behind these smoothies, all of which include nonfat yogurt, is to provide a feeling of fullness from a relatively low-calorie smoothie (each 8.25 ounce bottle contains 90 calories, five grams of fiber and protein and less sugar than a glass of milk, and is formulated to keep the consumer satisfied for an average of two to three hours). In addition, each smoothie contains inulin and non-GMO-corn-based Dextrin (which the company also lists as a prebiotic), so these smoothies are synbiotics. All of these beverages are sweetened with both erythritol and evaporated cane juice.