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.
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
- metabolic disorder
Ingredients to be aware of
- source of:
- vitamin b, d, e, and k
- homemade ice cream with real, fresh ingredients