When summer comes around, nothing can stop me from entering the frozen dessert aisle and heading straight for whatever I’m craving. Ice cream sandwiches? Coffee ice cream? Mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt? Yes, yes, and yes! But after scooping spoonfuls into a bowl (and sometimes straight into my mouth), I’m left wondering: Why do I feel so icky? If you can relate, look no further than the nutrition label. I realized the brands I grew up with—and tend to choose as an adult—don’t accommodate a healthy lifestyle by any dietitian’s standards. Loaded with high amounts of sugar, fat, and calories, these traditional ice creams make it almost impossible to keep up with the recommended 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, says Mia Syn, M.S., R.D.N. It’s a big reason why healthy ice creams have increased in popularity. However, while some treats like ice cream and frozen yogurt are marketed as “healthy,” “low-calorie,” or “light,” we’ve found that some crowned with the health halo are far from it.
“You have to look closely at the label because if it says ‘low-fat,’ it might be loaded with extra sugar, and if it’s low-calorie, it might contain artificial sweeteners that can irritate your stomach and have you running to the bathroom,” explains Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., creator of BetterThanDieting.com, and author of Read It Before You Eat It.
So, can ice cream be healthy?
Yes, there are plenty of healthy ice cream choices out there (including Halo Top!), but choosing the best cone, cup, or pop goes back to reading the ingredient list and nutrition labels carefully. Keep in mind that finding a healthier ice cream is not fully dependent on the calorie count says Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., and CEO of NY Nutrition Group. “The quality of calories are much more important than the total amount of calories consumed,” she says. “Pay attention to nutrient density, sodium, sugar or other certain artificial ingredients.”
Before heading to the supermarket, I had two clear goals in mind: A) Don’t be tricked by low-calorie labels and B) Don’t be afraid of the taste. I really like the idea of eating healthy ice cream, but I don’t necessarily want it to taste healthy. If that’s the case, is it really a treat?
Our dietitian experts tell Prevention.com to look for ice creams that are between 150 to 200 calories per serving, have less than 12 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of total fat. And you know what? There were several brands at my local supermarket with multiple flavors that landed within these guidelines. I gladly put them into the cart before “airplaning” a spoonful into my mouth. For three days, I tried different ice creams, frozen yogurt, and discovered that healthy options can actually be super fulfilling without needing to go for seconds. “Often times, having a serving of a lower sugar, fat, and calorie option can be equally as satisfying as the full fat and sugar counterpart, if you choose the right brand made with the right ingredients!” says Elizabeth Shaw, M.S. R.D.N. C.P.T., nutrition expert and author of The Instant Pot Cookbook For Dummies & The Air Fryer Cookbook For Dummies.
Now you’ve heard all about my shopping experiences. Let’s get to yours! Below, find our curated list of the best healthy ice creams to buy in 2020:
Through this article, we hope to help you understand Zero calorie ice cream