Lately, I’ve noticed when strolling happily through the frozen desserts section of the store that there are TONS of different ice cream “alternatives.” Are they worth the hype? I conducted a bunch of … um, “scientific” research to find the answers. Here’s what I discovered.
Are Nondairy Desserts or Alternative Ice Creams Right for You?
First, let’s talk about the different options available for frozen treats. There are vegan alternatives, high-protein “keto” versions, Italian gelato, sorbet, frozen yogurt, frozen kefir and shaved ice. Here’s what you need to know:
What about flavor? All of the healthy ice cream options I tried tasted great, though not quite as creamy as full-fat ice cream.
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Is Your Favorite Healthy Ice Cream Really Low in Fat?
At around 300–400 calories per pint compared to 1,200 calories in traditional ice cream, there’s no doubt that some varieties of healthy ice cream can help you skip the fat. To really benefit, however, you need to read the label. Some low-calorie desserts are full of added sugar (even more than full-fat ice cream) that adds to your waistline.
Are Ice Cream Alternatives Actually Healthy?
Can you benefit from choosing low-calorie alternatives to regular ice cream? Yes … and no. It honestly depends a lot on the specific ingredients. Some brands of healthy ice cream focus on natural ingredients (mint, dark chocolate, real fruit puree). Others use fillers, emulsifiers, sugar alcohols and a bunch of other things I can’t even pronounce.
After trying them over many weeks (purely out of scientific curiosity), my opinion is this: Choose healthy or vegan ice cream if you like it or need it, not as a weight-loss help. Many of these alternatives simply aren’t filling enough, which makes you want to eat more than you should.
Don’t fall for the “go for it!” trap. Even ice cream alternatives that are genuinely healthy can quickly add pounds if you eat the entire pint. Look at the serving size and compare it with what you normally eat. For some people, it’s better to indulge in a few scoops of normal ice cream on special occasions instead of demolishing an entire container of healthy ice cream regularly.