Gelato VS Ice cream VS Frozen Yogurt – which one is better?

Have you ever asked yourself: “Ice cream, gelato or frozen yogurt?” Some of you are answering “yes” to all, but what’s the healthiest and yummier answer?

Since gelato is Italian for ice cream, if you go to Italy and ask if you should have gelato or ice cream, they may look at you funny. But here in the United States and in many other parts of the world, gelato and ice cream mean different things. Both have similar base ingredients: water, fat (in the form of milk or cream) and sugar, which are mixed together and churned (moved around vigorously). Gelato has more milk than cream compared to ice cream and, in turn, has less fat. Making gelato involves churning the mix at a much slower speed than making ice cream. Churning the mix rapidly introduces air into the mix, making the mix fluffier. As result, gelato is much milkier and denser with less air while ice cream is creamier and can consist of between 25% and 90% air. The higher density gives gelato a more intense flavor. The higher density and lower fat composition mean that gelato is typically served at a higher temperature than ice cream. Otherwise, gelato would be rock hard.

Frozen yogurt is rather different from gelato and ice cream. Cream is usually not an ingredient in frozen yogurt. Instead, cultured milk is the main dairy ingredient. Keep in mind that frozen yogurt is not exactly the same as the “regular” yogurt that you store in the refrigerator. The freezing process kills the bacteria in frozen yogurt so you do not get the same probiotic benefit.

Since gelato is denser, a serving of gelato may be smaller than a serving of ice cream. In other words, you may be satisfied with a smaller volume of gelato since ice cream has more air, which does little to satiate your hunger (but may make you fart more). In fact, for a 3.5 ounce serving of each, here’s a comparison with numbers from SF Gate:

Gelato Ice Cream
Calories 90 125
Fat (grams) 3 7
Sugar (grams) 10 14


All three frozen treats have nutritional benefits such as providing protein, calcium, phosphorous, potassium and B vitamins. Gourmet ice creams tend to have less air (closer to 25%) while discount ice creams tend to have more air…up to 90%. Because when ice cream has 100% air, it is no longer ice cream. It is air. Moreover, ice cream needs to have at least 10% milk fat to qualify as ice cream.

The least healthy part of this chilled trio may be the added ingredients. Toppings and mix-ins can introduce lots of unhealthiness. Fruit in ice cream is frequently not just fruit. There’s added sugar, corn syrup and maybe artificial ingredients. Therefore, low-fat items may have more added sugar to compensate for the loss in yumminess. Low-sugar items can include more artificial flavorings. Gelato doesn’t really get along with toppings so you have to taste it in the Italian way – natural and delicious as always! Enjoy!

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