“Is Ice Cream Really That Bad For You? Here’s What Registered Dietitians Say”

by Alice

The indulgent delight of ice cream is undeniable, scoring a perfect 10 in flavor and satisfaction. Yet, its reputation as a sugary, calorie-laden treat loaded with potential artificial additives often paints it as an occasional indulgence rather than a daily delight for health-conscious individuals.


But what if one were to indulge in ice cream daily? Would it wreak havoc on one’s health? We sought insights from registered dietitians to shed light on this matter.

The notion of labeling any food or frequency of consumption as inherently “good” or “bad” is approached cautiously by Tamar Samuels, a registered dietitian and co-founder of Culina Health. Samuels emphasizes that such categorization can trigger detrimental feelings of shame, guilt, and fear surrounding food, while also acknowledging the diverse nutritional needs of individuals.

Maggie Michalczyk, founder of Once Upon a Pumpkin, echoes this sentiment, stating her aversion to classifying foods as intrinsically “bad.” While acknowledging the varying nutritional values of different foods, she highlights ice cream as a calorie-dense, high-sugar, high-fat treat that can be enjoyed in moderation within a balanced diet.

Examining the nutritional profiles of ice cream products on the market, it’s crucial to note their varying sugar and saturated fat content. For instance, a 2/3-cup serving of Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream contains 32 grams of sugar and 13 grams of saturated fat, nearly reaching the daily recommended limits set by the American Heart Association.

However, Edwina Clark, a registered dietitian, suggests that despite its high sugar and fat content, ice cream can be integrated into a healthy diet regimen. Moreover, she highlights some health benefits associated with ice cream, including its role as a source of calcium, magnesium, and B12, alongside its capacity to provide enjoyment and nostalgia.

Contrary to expectations, ice cream offers certain health advantages compared to other sweet treats. Michalczyk notes that the protein and fat content in ice cream can aid in slowing sugar absorption, offering a more favorable impact on blood sugar levels. Additionally, ice cream contains nutrients such as protein, calcium, and vitamin A, essential for eye health and immune function.

The debate extends to non-dairy ice cream alternatives, with Michalczyk cautioning that they may still be high in sugar and fat due to additional ingredients like artificial sweeteners and preservatives. Clark emphasizes that the nutritional composition of non-dairy desserts varies depending on the base used, indicating that they are more of an indulgence than a dietary staple.

Regardless of dairy or non-dairy preferences, portion control emerges as a key factor emphasized by all three dietitians. A single serving, typically half a cup, is recommended as the maximum daily intake for most individuals. However, considerations may vary based on individual circumstances, such as weight management goals or high-calorie requirements.

In conclusion, while ice cream is often perceived as a guilty pleasure, it can indeed be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation and alongside whole food ingredients. The insights from these registered dietitians offer a refreshing perspective on the role of ice cream in a healthy lifestyle.


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