Can ‘Healthy’ Ice Creams Help You Lose Weight?

The truth about Halo Top®, Arctic Zero® and other specialty brands

— Contributor: Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD, CDE

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Popular new ice creams (like Halo Top®, Arctic Zero® and Breyer’s  Delights®) are advertised as “healthy.” They claim to be low in calories and sugar, and high in protein.

However, healthy foods — like fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains — actually improve your health. Because these new, lower calorie ice cream products don’t better your health, I wouldn’t call them healthy.

That said, if you regularly eat ice cream, then replacing it with a product that is lower in calories, lower in saturated fat and lower in sugar would likely improve your diet.

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What to keep in mind

I would consider two major things:

  • GI distress. These new products often contain ingredients such as sugar alcohols, chicory root or inulin, which can cause bloating, gas and even diarrhea in some people.
  • Portions matter. The recommended portion for these lower calorie ice cream products is typically ½ cup, not one pint (2 cups). If you eat a pint a day, which contains 150 to 360 calories, you could gain as much as 15 to 36 pounds in one year! Also, one pint contains up to 20 to 40 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily added sugars to 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. Stick to ½ cup as a serving size for these products.

Also, before you top your ice cream with caramel sauce, fudge, whipped cream or candy bits, remember that sundae toppings also pile on extra calories. Consider topping your treat with fiber-rich fresh fruit slices, berries or protein-packed nuts instead.

The bottom line

If using a lower calorie ice cream product helps you decrease the excess calories, saturated fat and added sugar in your diet, then it’s fine to enjoy in moderation — meaning occasionally!

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Another option is to control the portions of another sweet treat that you already enjoy.

As always, reading the Nutrition Facts label on each product before you buy it will guide you in making healthier choices.

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