Healthy alternatives to ice cream
Whether enjoyed during the hot months of summer or the cold days of winter, ice cream is a go-to treat for many.
A stroll down the grocery store aisle will give you frozen treats of every variety, including dairy-free. You’ll find options like keto, paleo, no-sugar-added, dairy-free, vegan, plant-based, organic and more. But how healthy is ice cream and is there a way to incorporate it into your diet?
“Ice cream made from cow’s milk will supply calcium and protein, but they are often high in saturated fat and added sugars,” says Heather Klug, registered dietician at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center.
But don’t be fooled by ice cream alternatives that tout themselves as the more healthy option. Ice cream alternatives often have less protein, and yet are still high in saturated fat, added sugars and calories. Be mindful of these components when you’re looking for your next frozen treat, she recommends.
“Many ice creams, whether we’re talking original or an alternative, may also contain questionable ingredients or additives such as sugar alcohols, chicory fiber and lecithins,” she says. “These additives, while safe in small amounts, may cause digestive distress in many individuals.”
Klug offers an easy tip for consumers making a decision on what to buy.
“The simpler the ingredient list the better. The more fancy and indulgent it sounds, the higher the calories, generally,” Klug says.
How much ice cream is the correct portion?
The average portion size is ½ to 2/3 cup. Calories per portion size ranges anywhere from 100 calories, all the way up to 400 calories per 2/3 cup serving.
What are the other alternatives?
If you are looking for other sweet treats to help cool off this summer, reach for these few healthy alternatives instead of a scoop of ice cream.
- Sorbet: A non-dairy frozen dessert made with a combination of flavored water or sugar and fruit juices. Sorbet is lower in fat and calories.
- Popsicles: Frozen ice cream or flavored ice on a stick. One popsicle usually contains 30-50 calories on average.
- Fruitsicles: Popsicles made from fresh fruit puree. They are a great way to get your fruit intake in for the day!
- Nice cream: Banana based sugar-free and dairy-free ice cream. Nice cream is low-calorie and low-fat.
This summer, and year-round, ice cream is ok to have in moderation. Understanding what’s in ice cream can help you determine if you want to include it in your diet or if you want to have an alternative, there are options for everyone, and all diets.
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