Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Ice Cream Bad For You?



Short answer

Ice cream is often high in sugar and fat. Eat the right variety in the right context, however, and you can avoid doing too much damage to your body.



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Long answer

There's a huge range of ice creams that are on the market. Some are loaded with sugar, fat, and dairy; there's also low-sugar, low-fat, and dairy-free varieties to choose from. Some ice creams are peppered with pistachios and other nuts. Nobody should be wolfing down ice cream all day; eat a moderate amount of the right kind for you in the right context, however, and you'll probably be fine.

Ice cream is best as a dessert - eat it after a meal. That's because there's not much fiber in ice cream to speak of. Eating ice cream as a standalone is hard on the body - it delivers sugar to the blood quickly, which can bring on a blood sugar spike. Enough of those over the long-term, and you can throw your glucose response and metabolism out of wack, increasing your risk of metabolic disorder, glucose sensitivity, or diabetes.

Eat ice cream after a meal with fiber, however, and you'll slow the rate at which it's absorbed into the body. That'll blunt the effects of all that sugar - it'll soften up your glucose response and cushion the impact on your metabolism.

Low-fat and low-sugar ice cream are popular alternatives for those with a sweet tooth who are looking to cut back on ice cream's sugar content. If you do choose a low-sugar ice cream, avoid or use caution with varieties that use artificial sweeteners; some are controversial and the subject of pressure from consumer advocacy groups who believe their safety as food additives is suspect. Moreover, low-fat and low-sugar ice creams may fail to satiate; they leave you hungry for more, which might inspire some to go in for a second or third serving. Doing this effectively cancels out any upsides from choosing a healthier variety.

Eat your ice cream with nuts or fruit if you can. Pistachios, almonds or strawberries in ice cream do not make a complete meal. What they do accomplish is a boost to ice cream's nutritional content. A scoop already comes with calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins B, D, E, and K; adding in fruit or nuts can fortify these nutrients and push ice cream towards being a slightly healthier choice.

Ice cream made with coconut oil is a bit better for you than conventional varieties. Coconut oil has medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs. They've got antioxidant properties, can raise your "good" cholesterol, and are metabolized differently than other fats.

Possible short-term side effects

  • digestive upset

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain, obesity
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • hypertension
  • metabolic disorder

Ingredients to be aware of


  • source of:
  • calcium
  • phosphorus
  • vitamin b, d, e, and k

Healthier alternatives

  • homemade ice cream with real, fresh ingredients

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Coconut Milk Dessert Sandwich

  • Dairy-free alternative
  • Rich vanilla bean flavor
  • Vegan-friendly
  • Non-GMO verified
  • Convenient 8-pack
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources | Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 01-22-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

View Sources
Written by Sean McNulty
Published on: 01-22-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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