Healthier Ice Cream
It is almost impossible to go into the ice cream aisle these days, and not be bombarded with a million options. Regular ice cream, organic ice cream, frozen yogurt, non-dairy ice cream..... The list goes on. And one type we were seeing more and more often are these "healthy" ice creams or the protein ice cream.
But are these really that much better for you? Is it really a better alternative to regular ice cream? And with so many different brands and options, how do you know what to choose?
I answered some of these exact questions when I was interviewed on the topic for a local media station in Charlotte. Check out the video in the link below to hear what I would recommend, and keep scrolling for my overall comparisons.
Ok so, these graphics were taken directly from the Halo Top website, and provides a good comparison.
Let's get to one of the most important parts, the serving size. So as you can see, this is the comparison for Halo Top to various other ice cream competitors for a 1/2 cup serving.
So for a lot of these being marketed as "high protein" or "healthy", there really isn't that much of a difference in protein, only 1-2 grams difference.
Fat & Calories
The largest difference in the "healthy" version vs. the competitors is the fat and calories. Not just Halo Top, but the majority of the healthier ice creams use skim milk as the main dairy ingredient vs. heavy cream and/or whole milk. That is the most significant difference between any ice cream.
While reducing the cream to skim milk minimizes the fat and calories significantly, it also changes the texture of the final product. While the flavor of the Halo Top may be comparable, it is often lacking that creamy and smooth consistency that I always look forward to with ice cream. And the biggest question about this difference: does it really still satisfy you??
Let's not forget about the sugar. Yes, the sugar is significantly reduced in healthy version, but at what cost? There is definitely still some regular added sugar in the ice cream, but it is also sweetened with stevia and erythritol.
What is erythritol??? It is a sugar alcohol that makes the product sweet, but your body cannot absorb it. Due to your body not being able to absorb it, some people are not able to tolerate it well. In those who are more sensitive and/or in large amounts it can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea and a lot of abdominal discomfort.
Not exactly the side effect I am looking for after I eat ice cream.
So is Halo Top, or another "healthy/protein" ice cream really that much of a better option?
For me personally, the answer is no.
I do not tolerate sugar alcohols well, and when I want ice cream, I'm really looking for that creamy consistency. And I would much rather put some real sugar in my body than a non-nutritive sweetener that my body doesn't know what to do with.
But the biggest factor I look for when I'm selecting ice cream?
My biggest rule of thumb for not only ice cream, but ANY manufactured food product is to go straight to the ingredient list. I look for the shortest ingredient list possible, and all with words I can pronounce.
What is my typical go-to ice cream?
Publix Greenwise Organic Ice Cream
Here are the listed ingredients:
Organic Milk, Organic Cream, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Carob Bean Gum, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Vanilla Extract And Organic Ground Vanilla Beans.
Milk. Cream. Sugar. (Carob bean and guar gum are stabilizers). Vanilla Extract. Vanilla Beans.
Short and sweet ingredients, and the flavor is rich and decadent enough that I only need a small scoop to satisfy my ice cream cravings. No need to eat the whole pint.
What is your favorite ice cream? What do you look for when selecting an ice cream brand?