A Nutritionist’s Take on Halo Top and Other ‘Healthier’ Brands
OK, I’m just going to say right up front that as a nutritionist, I would never categorize ice cream as health foodper se. But lately several seemingly healthierversions of the sweet stuff have appeared on themarket, and a few brandsare flying off supermarket shelves. Before you grab a spoon anddig into any of these better for youpints, here’s a look at a few popular options, and what you should keep in mind.
Adding nutrients doesn automatically make ice cream healthy
Halo Top made headlinesthis month when it became the best selling pint of ice cream in the country, surpassingtop brands like Ben Jerry’s. In addition to milk, cream, and eggs, Halo Top’singredients includefiber, milk protein concentrate, and the sweeteners stevia and erythritol. The latter is a type of sugar alcohol, which tastes sweetbut doesn’t get absorbed like regular sugar, or raise blood sugar levels.
As a result, a pint of Halo Top containsjust 240 calories, with up to 24 grams of protein, and nearly 50% of the Daily Value for fiber. That’s a better nutritional profile thantraditional ice cream. But still, Halo Top is atreat just one with less sugar, fewercalories, andmore protein and fiber.
In other words, it’s not a good idea to polish off a pint every night or to eat one in place of dinner (which a few of my clients admit they occasionally do). Anothercaveat: Erythritol can cause bloating and gas in some people.
Enlightened, which is marketed as”ice cream that’s good for you,” is similar to Halo Top. The product’s makers start with skim milkand add milk protein isolate (to bump up the protein), fiber, erythritol, and monk fruit extract another natural, no calorie sweetener that has become popular alongside stevia. Anecdotally, some of my clients find that the intense sweetness actually stokes theirsweet tooth, rather than satisfying it. And some say they don’t like the aftertaste.
Snow Monkey, which is currently only available in two flavors (cacao and goji berry), is a dairy free ice cream alternative made from bananas, hemp seed protein powder, sunflower butter, and either fruit or maple syrup as the sweetener. While not that low calat about 400 calories per pint, it provides 20 grams of protein, and nearly half of the daily recommended fiber intake. A full pint of the cacao also packs over 60% of a day’s iron and vitamin C needs. Impressive, but remember, polishing off a pint in one sitting doesn’t qualify as healthy eating!
Even “vegan” isn a license to eat unlimited portions
NadaMoo! is another ice cream alternative made with coconut milk and water; inulin, a prebiotic fiber linked to digestive health; andagave. A pint contains about 20 grams of fiber. Some flavors are “cleaner” than others in terms of the ingredients, and calories vary considerably, ranging from 240 in a pint of vanilla to 600 in a pint of chocolate peanut butter. But inmy opinion, the coconut milk base in NadaMoo!creates a richness that makes ahalf cup portion (which is ideal) feel just right.
Splurges are perfectly fine every once in a while. But whole, fresh foods should be the main sources of your nutrients (including protein and fiber) not dessert.
Are these healthier options better than traditional ice cream? That depends on how much you have, and how often.
If ice cream is an occasional “extra,” and you feel more satisfied with a smaller portion of the real thing, go for it. On the flip side, if you find these doctored up versions just as satisfying as regular ice cream, and you feel better about eating them, that’sA OK. Just remember to enjoy them as an occasionalindulgence rather than an everydaytreat.