Americans love ice cream! Get this - the average person in the U.S. eats more than 23 pounds of ice cream a year! And all that frozen goodness really adds up, especially on our waistlines. So are we better off swapping real deal ice cream for fro yo or some other frozen treat? Here’s what we need to know.
Ice cream - Sometimes only the real deal will do! Ice cream comes in full-fat, reduced-fat, low-fat, light and nonfat varieties and to be called “ice cream” it has to have no less than 10% milk fat. And here’s how the lower fat versions break down:
- Reduced fat: has 25% less fat than a similar product
- Low-fat: has three grams of total fat in a half cup serving
- Light or lite: has 50% less fat or 33% fewer calories
- Nonfat: has less than 0.5 grams of total fat in a half cup serving.
High-protein, dairy-free, or other ice cream alternatives - There are great options now for folks who want more protein in their frozen treats or can’t tolerate dairy. Some brands have more fat, sugar, or use artificial sweeteners, so just read labels closely.
- Gelato - This creamy, Italian treat has less milk than ice cream, usually about 4 to 8%. It’s only made with milk, cream, and sugar - no stabilizers or emulsifiers here. And it’s still so rich and creamy that you can eat a small portion and still feel like you’re indulging yourself.
- Frozen yogurt - We know probiotics are good for gut health, and this frozen treat has them. Fro yo generally has fewer calories than ice cream, but when you add crushed Oreos or caramel, that all changes, so watch those toppings.
- Frozen custard - It has a minimum of 1.4 percent of egg yolk solids in addition to the 10% milk fat that ice cream has, so it’s creamier, but has more calories. Frozen custard has more protein as well and it’s more dense than ice cream.
- Sorbet and granita - These lighter frozen treats are considered more “natural” and diet-friendly than ice cream and it’s relatives and they’re made with non-dairy ingredients. When you’re looking for something icy instead of creamy, these are the way to go. They’re lower in fat and calories, but still have lots of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
So which of these frozen desserts is “best” for us? It’s really all about what you like best. The best part is that you can find pretty much anything that suits your desires at the supermarket these days, so you can enjoy your favorite.