Ice cream and summer nights just go together, but ice cream can also be associated with a healthy lifestyle. The key is moderation.
According to Dianna Schalles, nutrition counseling coordinator at Lafene Health Center, portion size is the biggest health issue with eating ice cream.
“(Ice cream) is a favorite treat that many people enjoy and it can be hard to stop at the recommended half-cup portion,” Schalles said.
Stephanie Scofield, Cold Stone Creamery manager in Westfield, New Jersey, said a lot of her customers are concerned with size when they order. They will want a bigger size, but feel they should order a smaller one.
“Normally when they are feeling this way, I will suggest that they get the bigger size and then take a top so they can save some for later,” Scofield said.
Jared Parsons, K-State dairy plant manager, also said that there are benefits to ice cream as a dessert or snack when eaten in moderation.
“It is a misconception that fat is a bad thing,” Parsons said. “Our body does need fat in a regular diet. Milk fat helps regulate the body naturally.”
Ice cream contains essential vitamins and minerals, and Schalles said the most important thing to do is read the nutrition label. According to Schalles, while ice cream is a source of calcium and protein, the health risks associated with ice cream arise from the higher sugar, calorie and saturated fat contents.
“The ranges of frozen desserts are pretty broad and may vary considerably in terms of nutrient content,” Schalles said.
There is a broad selection of frozen desserts, and Schalles said label reading will help you choose the healthiest option. Some other options include reduced-fat ice cream, non-dairy ice cream, frozen yogurt and sherbet. According to Schalles, however, it is important to look at sugar content in these as well.
While sherbet contains less fat than traditional ice cream, it actually has a higher sugar content. As for frozen yogurt, Schalles said it’s possible that a light ice cream has less fat and calories than a premium frozen yogurt.
According to Scofield, frozen yogurts at Cold Stone Creamery have a lot of sugar added to make them taste good, so frozen yogurt isn’t necessarily a healthier option there.
The potential health benefits of ice cream, however, reach beyond calcium and protein contents, but to mental health as well. Scofield said she can see it in her customers how happy ice cream makes everyone.
“Little kids are the best to serve, because they haven’t learned how to control their emotions yet and get so happy when they eat ice cream,” Scofield said.
Frozen yogurt has become more of a craze in recent years, whether it be from the idea of self-serve, taste or how much better it is believed to be for your health.
Parsons said he believes it is all about the consumer’s preference.
“I, myself, do enjoy the full body and texture of
a true ice cream,” Parsons said.