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Gelato vs. Ice Cream vs. Frozen Yogurt
There was once a time when I didn't think that I could ever give up ice cream. I ate it far more often than could possibly be healthy and can only say that I'm glad I was young enough then that my body was resilient in metabolizing it and moving in. And then there was a time when I didn't really eat ice cream at all because I'd gotten weight-conscious and discovered a frozen yogurt place that had sugar free, fat free frozen yogurt options with toppings that were absolutely wonderful. So I ate frozen yogurt all of the time and considered it the healthy choice.
Eventually I got sick of frozen yogurt because you can really only eat so much of that stuff for so long before the craving goes away. I went back to ice cream for awhile, eating it a lot less often than I had before. That was all back in my hometown. Then I moved to San Francisco where there is North Beach (Little Italy) that has Italian-style gelato offered in every other storefront. And I once again fell in love with an ice-cream-like dessert. The appeal of gelato for me was the millions of different taste choices that seemed to be available - the classic spumoni that tastes different every place you have it, the fruity flavors and exotic flavors like cucumber and rose and pina colada.
These days, I think that a balanced dessert diet should include all three of the above. Sometimes gelato is the perfect treat - a light, summery dessert that has refreshing flavors and sparkles up your mouth without compromising your diet too badly. Sometimes what you really need is frozen yogurt in a sugar cone. And then there are days when you need to retire to your bed with a big bowl of real genuine ice cream and call it a comfort food. So, in my opinion, there are major differences between the three and there are different reasons for wanting to eat them. Each is valid in its own right. All should be enjoyed now and then and none should be eaten too often.
But that's just me and my personal preferences and my unique dietary concerns (or lack thereof). For people who have food allergies, specific dietary needs or who simply happen to be as health-conscious as I probably ought to be, there are differences in gelato, frozen yogurt and ice cream that go further than what they mean to me. The major difference is that ice cream has more fat than the other two. Another difference is that gelato frequently has more real fruit it in that the others do, although this depends greatly on the manufacturer. Similarly, frozen yogurt often has artificial sweeteners instead of sugar which isn't true of ice cream (though it can be; there are sugar-free ice creams) and is rarely seen with gelato.
To understand the differences between the three at a very basic level you just need to know that ice cream has more milkfat, gelato has less air (so it's more dense) and frozen yogurt has cultured milk. Some people believe that frozen yogurt is particularly healthy in comparison with the others because of the health and digestion benefits of the bacteria in the culture but this depends greatly on the other ingredients that are in the frozen yogurt. I myself still maintain that a balanced diet includes all three!