Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Breyers Ice Cream Bad For You?



Short answer

Consuming Breyers Ice Cream in moderation is not 'bad' for you, but it's important to be mindful of its high sugar and fat content. Regularly indulging in large portions may lead to health issues like weight gain and heart disease. It can be enjoyed as an occasional treat within a balanced diet; however, consistently large servings or daily consumption could be detrimental to your health. Pay attention to portion sizes and the nutritional values of the specific flavors you choose.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content Analysis of Breyers Ice Cream

When diving into the nutritional content of Breyers Ice Cream, it's important to consider the diversity of flavors and products they offer. Each variety can possess different nutritional profiles, but common threads typically run throughout commercial brand ice creams. Let's break down the macro and micronutrient aspects, along with the presence of any additives, in a typical serving of this frozen dessert.

Macro-nutrient Breakdown

A standard serving size of Breyers Ice Cream (typically ½ cup or about 66g) primarily provides a combination of fats, carbohydrates, and protein. Focusing on one of their classic flavors, such as vanilla, a single serving could typically contain:

  • Calories: approximately 140 calories
  • Total Fat: 7g (with a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats)
  • Cholesterol: 20-30 mg
  • Sodium: around 35 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Sugars: 14g (including added sugars)
  • Proteins: 2g

It's crucial to point out that ice cream is a calorie-dense food and contains significant amounts of added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 36g per day for men and 25g for women, and a single serving of Breyers Ice Cream already fulfills a substantial portion of this recommendation.

Micronutrient Contribution

Breyers Ice Cream offers some micronutrient value as well, providing small amounts of vitamins and minerals such as:

  • Calcium: essential for bone health
  • Vitamin D: in enriched products, aiding calcium absorption
  • Phosphorus: involved in bone formation and energy metabolism

However, ice cream is not a significant source of vitamins or minerals when compared to other more nutrient-dense foods. Consuming it for the sake of micronutrient intake would not be advisable.

Additives and Ingredients

Many ice cream products, including some Breyers offerings, contain additives that improve texture and extend shelf life. Common substances include:

  • Emulsifiers such as mono and diglycerides or soy lecithin, which help to blend ingredients smoothly
  • Stabilizers such as guar gum or carrageenan to maintain texture and prevent ice crystal formation
  • Artificial flavors or colors, particularly in more vibrant or unconventional flavors

As a rule of thumb, a simpler ingredient list often indicates a more 'natural' product, but it is still worth noting the function and necessity of each component within the ice cream for a comprehensive nutritional analysis.

Considering the above factors, the nutritional content of Breyers Ice Cream can vary, but it typically includes substantial sugar and fat. Although an occasional indulgence in ice cream can be a part of a balanced diet, its regular consumption, especially in larger portion sizes, could contribute to various health concerns such as weight gain, increased risk of heart disease, or disruptions in blood sugar levels. Evaluating the nutritional content of the specific variations of Breyers Ice Cream is essential for those monitoring their dietary intake due to health conditions or dietary goals.

Additionally, when analyzing nutrition labels, it's crucial to look for phrases such as "No Sugar Added" or "Reduced Fat," which can influence the choice for individuals with specific dietary needs. It's worth consulting peer-reviewed studies on the health effects of long-term consumption of high-sugar and high-fat diets to understand the broader implications of including ice cream as a frequent treat.

Understanding Saturated Fats and Sugar in Breyers Ice Cream

When indulging in a creamy scoop of Breyers Ice Cream, it's essential to understand the nutritional implications, particularly concerning saturated fats and sugar. These two components are found in most ice cream brands, but their levels and impact on health can vary significantly.

Saturated Fats:

Saturated fats in ice cream mostly originate from dairy ingredients such as cream and milk. While these fats can be a source of energy, excessive intake is associated with increased LDL cholesterol levels, potentially leading to heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that saturated fats should make up less than 6% of your total daily calories. For example, if you're consuming a 2,000-calorie diet, that equates to around 13 grams of saturated fats daily.

An inspection of Breyers Ice Cream's nutritional content reveals that one serving (typically ½ cup) can contain around 3.5 to 5 grams of saturated fat, which represents a significant portion of the recommended daily intake. Moderation is key, and it's important to consider how ice cream fits into your overall dietary saturated fat consumption.


The sweetness we relish in Breyers Ice Cream can be attributed to added sugars. While sugar can provide a quick source of energy, high intake is linked to numerous health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dental cavities. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that added sugars should encompass no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake. This equates to 50 grams of sugar on a 2,000-calorie diet.

On average, a ½ cup serving of Breyers Ice Cream can pack anywhere from 14 to 24 grams of sugar, depending on the flavor. This represents a considerable portion of the daily recommended limit for added sugars. Those who are mindful of their sugar intake should be particularly cautious about regular consumption of ice cream as part of their diet.

It's also important to note that some Breyers products are marketed as containing no artificial growth hormones and use Rainforest Alliance-certified vanilla. While these features might be attractive from an ethical and ecological perspective, they do not directly mitigate the health impacts of saturated fats and sugar found in the products.

When enjoying Breyers Ice Cream or any similar products, it's crucial to balance pleasure with awareness. By understanding the levels of saturated fats and sugar present in a serving, you can enjoy ice cream as an occasional treat without significantly compromising your dietary health.

Additives and Artificial Ingredients Used in Breyers Products

Ice cream, a favorite comfort food for many, often contains more than just the basic ingredients of milk, cream, sugar, and flavorings. In the case of Breyers Ice Cream, a look at their ingredients list reveals the inclusion of various additives and artificial ingredients. Understanding what these are and their purpose is crucial in assessing their impact on health.

Emulsifiers and Stabilizers

  • Polysorbate 80: This synthetic compound helps mix ingredients together that would otherwise separate, like oil and water. It's commonly used in ice creams to improve texture and prevent ice crystal formation. While it is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, a study published in Nature (2015) linked emulsifiers to changes in gut bacteria and inflammation in mice, although the effects on humans are not well-established.
  • Carob Bean Gum: Derived from the carob tree, this natural thickener is used to enhance texture and stabilize the ice cream mix. It is considered safe, however, excessive consumption may lead to gastrointestinal issues for some individuals.

Artificial Flavors

  • Manufacturers often use artificial flavors to mimic natural tastes, allowing for a more consistent product regardless of the variability of natural ingredients. Although these flavors are approved by regulatory agencies, there is ongoing debate among scientists and consumers about their potential long-term health effects.

Artificial Colors

  • Blue 1 or Brilliant Blue: An FDA-approved synthetic dye used to give products a distinctive color. Some studies, such as a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (2016), raise concerns about artificial colors being linked to hyperactivity in children, though the evidence isn’t conclusive.
  • Yellow 5 or Tartrazine: Another common artificial color found in many food products, including certain Breyers Ice Cream flavors. It has been approved by the FDA, but is also associated with hyperactivity and allergic reactions in some individuals according to limited studies.


  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS): Used as a sweetener in some Breyers products, HFCS has been associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome when consumed in excess, as indicated by research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004).
  • Sucralose: A zero-calorie artificial sweetener found in some "light" ice cream options. While it doesn't contribute to sugar intake, some studies suggest that it may alter the bacterial balance in the gut, as published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health (2013).

In summary, while Breyers Ice Cream may contain several additives and artificial ingredients intended to enhance texture, flavor, and shelf-life, their health ramifications are complex and can vary based on individual sensitivity and consumption frequency. Consumers should be informed about these additives and consider moderation in their dietary choices.

The Reality of "Natural" Flavors in Breyers Ice Cream

When considering the health impact of any food product, it is essential to examine the ingredients closely. Breyers Ice Cream often markets its products highlighting the use of "natural" flavors, aiming to create a wholesome image. However, the term "natural flavors" can be quite misleading and warrants a closer look.

Natural flavors are derived from natural sources such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, bark, buds, root leaves, or similar plant materials. They are often used to enhance the taste and aroma of food products. In contrast to "artificial" flavors which are synthesized in labs, "natural" flavors are extracted from real food items.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a "natural flavor" must originate from a plant or animal source, although it may be processed in ways that alter its properties. Here's what you need to know about natural flavors in Breyers Ice Cream:

  • Processing and Purity: While natural flavors come from natural sources, they often undergo significant processing that can include chemical reactions, fermentation, and solvent extraction. Despite starting from a natural source, the end product can be quite different from the original, whole food form.
  • Health Impact: While natural flavors themselves are not inherently harmful, they can be a concern for people with allergies or sensitivities, as the exact composition is not always disclosed due to proprietary reasons. Additionally, the presence of natural flavors doesn't make a product healthier overall, especially if it contains high levels of sugar, unhealthy fats, or artificial additives.
  • Regulatory Concerns: Critics argue that the term "natural flavors" provides a minimal guarantee of healthfulness or quality, as the FDA's definition is broad and manufacturers are not required to reveal the specifics of these flavors. This lack of transparency can make it difficult for consumers to make fully informed choices.
  • Psychological Effects: Research has shown that flavors can have a profound impact on our eating behavior. A study published in the journal Flavour found that natural and artificial flavors might encourage overeating by enhancing palatability and triggering reward centers in the brain.

While Breyers Ice Cream uses natural flavors, it's key for consumers to understand that the term "natural" does not necessarily equate to a product being healthier or more nutritious. It's important to look at the overall ingredient list and nutritional profile to make an informed decision about including it as part of a balanced diet.

For those particularly concerned about the origin and potential health impacts of natural flavors, reaching out to the manufacturer for more detailed information might provide additional insights. Alternatively, selecting products with clear, whole-food ingredients could offer a more straightforward approach to maintaining a healthful diet.

Portion Control and Its Role in Healthy Consumption

Indulging in a scoop of Breyers Ice Cream can be a sweet treat, but like any indulgence, the key to maintaining a balanced diet is portion control. The concept of portion control is crucial because it allows an individual to enjoy their favorite foods without compromising their health goals. Let's delve into the important aspects of portion control and how it applies to consuming ice cream in a health-conscious manner.

A standard serving size of ice cream, as recommended by the American Heart Association, is roughly half a cup. This may seem small, but it's designed to satisfy cravings without overloading on sugar and fat. However, the container sizes and serving tools we use at home can easily lead us to exceed this amount without realizing it. Here are several points to consider regarding portion control and Breyers Ice Cream:

  • Measuring Servings: Using a measuring cup or a purpose-built ice cream scoop can help ensure that you're sticking to the recommended serving size.
  • Caloric Intake: Understanding the calorie content per serving is essential. For example, a half-cup serving of Breyers Vanilla Ice Cream contains approximately 140 calories. Monitoring your intake can prevent unintentional overconsumption.
  • Nutrition Labels: Always read the nutrition labels to be aware of added sugars and fats. Breyers often advertises "No Artificial Growth Hormones" and "100% Grade A Milk and Cream" which may give a health halo effect, but the labels will provide the full picture.
  • Frequency: Being mindful of how often you enjoy ice cream is part of portion control. Treating it as an occasional delight rather than a daily habit can make a significant difference in your overall diet.

According to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, those who are given larger portions consume more calories without reporting increased satisfaction. This implies that enjoying a controlled portion can be just as rewarding as a larger one, with fewer dietary downsides. Moreover, the American Diabetes Association suggests that sweets can be a part of a balanced diet, particularly when portion sizes are controlled to prevent blood sugar spikes.

Considering the various flavors and formulas that Breyers offers, including their lower-calorie Breyers Delights, as well as their CarbSmart and Lactose-Free varieties, portion control becomes even more pertinent. Each variety comes with its own nutritional profile, and the mindful consumption of these treats should take into account individual dietary restrictions and goals.

For individuals with specific health conditions like diabetes, obesity, or heart disease, portion control is especially crucial. Even for a generally healthy individual, the practice of moderating indulgent foods like ice cream is a cornerstone of a balanced diet and overall wellness.

In summary, while enjoying your favorite flavor of Breyers Ice Cream is not inherently 'bad' for you, the amount and frequency of consumption play a pivotal role in determining its place in an overall healthy diet. Adhering to proper portion sizes can help mitigate the potential negative effects associated with high-calorie, sweetened foods while allowing you to indulge responsibly.

Frequently asked questions

Breyers offers a few options targeted at individuals looking to lower their intake of added sugars, such as their 'No Sugar Added' line of ice creams. These products substitute common sweeteners with sugar alcohols and non-nutritive sweeteners, offering a taste similar to their traditional line while reducing the added sugar content.

Breyers Ice Cream can be part of a weight management plan when consumed in moderation and as part of an overall balanced diet. Paying close attention to serving sizes, frequency of consumption, and opting for lower-calorie varieties, like Breyers Delights, can help maintain your weight management goals.

Some Breyers Ice Cream products are labeled gluten-free and may be suitable for individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, it's important to read the packaging labels carefully, as not all flavors are gluten-free, and there may also be risks of cross-contamination during production.

The Rainforest Alliance certification indicates that certain ingredients, like vanilla used in Breyers Ice Cream, are sourced from farms that follow more sustainable agricultural practices. While this doesn't impact the nutritional content, it signals a commitment to environmental responsibility and ethical sourcing.

Ask a question about Breyers Ice Cream and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • bloating
  • increased blood sugar
  • potential hyperactivity in children

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • increased risk of heart disease
  • diabetes
  • dental caries
  • potential disruption of gut microbiota

Ingredients to be aware of


  • source of energy
  • some micronutrients like calcium and vitamin d

Healthier alternatives

  • low-sugar options
  • portion-controlled servings
  • frozen yogurt
  • dairy-free alternatives
  • homemade ice cream with natural sweeteners

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

SO DELICIOUS Frozen Dessert

  • Dairy-free treat
  • Non-GMO verified
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Convenient 8 pack
  • Vanilla bean flavor
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-14-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 01-14-2024

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