Ice cream is a favorite frozen dessert of many Americans and has been a part of American culture dating back to the time of the founding fathers. Ice cream is essentially frozen dairy with added fruit or nuts. The modern version of ice cream contains lot of fat and preservatives. This article discusses four nutritional components of modern ice cream. Note: The serving size for most ice cream is ½ cup.
There is a rising ice cream trend that may indicate where things are going for the ice cream category. With consumers’ growing interest in healthier indulgence, ice cream companies are creating pints that showcase fewer calories, less sugar and in some cases, a higher protein content.
Although the nutritional content of ice cream varies among brands and types, in general it is an excellent source of energy. Ice cream is rich in carbohydrate, with about 15 grams in a one-half-cup serving. A serving also contains about 7 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein, making it an energy-dense food.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one-half cup of vanilla ice cream provides 137 kilocalories of energy, about twice the amount in one-half cup of whole milk. Ice cream is a good choice when you need energy or if you are pursuing a program to gain weight.
Ice cream is also a dietary source of two important minerals. It is particularly rich in calcium and phosphorus, with about 10 percent of the adult recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, of these minerals in a single, one-half-cup serving. Both calcium and phosphorus promote strong, healthy bones.
In fact, consuming plenty of calcium, but not phosphorus, wouldn’t do your bones much good. While good amounts of these nutrients don’t make ice cream a health food, you can consider them a modest perk when you do indulge.
Ice cream is a high-fat food, since it must contain greater than 10 percent milk fat to be designated ice cream, with some products having as much as 16 percent, according to the University of Guelph. Milk fat is largely cholesterol, a saturated fat.
When your blood cholesterol level is too high, it can build up as plaque, a fatty deposit in your arteries that interferes with blood flow and raises your risk of heart disease and stroke. Ice cream is also high in sugar, which makes up the majority of its carbohydrate content.
The Mayo Clinic website warns that consumption of too much sugar may contribute to health problems such as weight gain, cavities and increased levels of blood triglycerides, another unhealthy type of fat. To lower your risk for high cholesterol and sugar-related problems, consume ice cream in moderation or choose a low-fat, low-sugar ice cream substitute
Ice cream may cause problems for certain people because it is dairy-based and contains lactose, a milk sugar. These individuals, referred to as lactose-intolerant, are deficient in lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, and may experience digestive upset if they consume ice cream.
According to PubMed Health, about 30 million Americans are lactose-intolerant. If you are lactose-intolerant, taking a lactase supplement when consuming ice cream may alleviate this problem, or you can replace ice cream with a similar frozen product made with soy milk or another dairy substitute.
The Good in it:
Source of Vitamins
Did you know that ice cream happens to be a huge source of vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, D, and E! It doesn’t stop there. Apparently, ice cream contains vitamin K, which prevents blood clotting. Let’s not forget that ice cream also contains niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin.
Not only does ice cream have nutritional value, it also is an incredible source of energy. As a diabetic, I understand that ice cream is rich with carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which are all, needed for our bodies to produce energy.
Source of Minerals
Minerals like calcium and phosphorus are found in ice cream. Calcium is an essential mineral for us as it maintains strong bones and reduces the chances of kidney stones. Mood swings and PMS can also be prevented by eating ice cream. Who knew?
Stimulates the Brain
Ice cream stimulates the thrombotonin, which is a hormone of happiness and helps in reducing the levels of stress in the body. Ice cream is made of milk, which contains L-triptophane, which is a natural tranquilizer and helps in relaxing the nervous system. It also helps prevent symptoms of insomnia.
The Bad in it:
Like all dairy products, ice cream is high in fat. A 1/2-cup serving of a leading brand of the most widely consumed flavor of ice cream, vanilla, contains 9 g of fat. While fat is a nutrient and body needs a certain amount to produce hormones, provide energy and protect organs, too much can result in cardiovascular disease. Fat should account for about 20% to 35% of your total calories.
2. Saturated Fat
Saturated fatty acids are commonly found in animal products such as meat, milk, eggs and butter. Excess consumption of saturated fat can increase your blood cholesterol levels, causing arterial blockage and ultimately resulting in heart attacks and strokes.
Excess consumption of foods that are high in dietary cholesterol can increase your blood-cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. A 1/2-cup serving of vanilla ice cream contains 25 mg of cholesterol. Your body produces about 1,000 mg of cholesterol a day on its own.
Sugar is an empty calorie. It contains caloric value but contributes no other nutrients to the diet. You can eat all the sugar you want and reach your daily caloric requirements, but you still need to consume additional calories to meet your other nutrient needs. Therefore, sugar can significantly contribute to weight gain and, ultimately, cardiovascular disease.
Careful on how much energy you want to get from ice cream, after all, it can also help you gain weight. Everything in moderation remember!