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What’s in your ice cream?

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 Is frozen yogurt really healthier than ice cream? Discover the truth about these popular summer refreshments.

There is necessarily 10% fat from cream, milk or butter in commercial ice cream. Manufacturers can add other ingredients and enough air to double the volume. The cheapest ice cream contains only 10% fat, but plenty of air, while the most expensive ice cream contains twice as much fat and half as much air.

It is the fat that gives the ice cream its creaminess. In skimmed or lightened ice creams and in frozen yogurt, manufacturers compensate by putting more sweeteners ‘sometimes even double ‘ and less air. In short, if these products are less fat, finally they have no less calories .

Soft ice cream and ice milk contain 3% to 6% fat and 30% to 50% air. Sorbets contain a little fat and milk solids and sometimes egg whites. Fruit ice creams are made with puree or fruit juice, sugar and water, sometimes with pectin or ascorbic acid added. Most of these products offer 200 calories per cup . Even half a cup of fat-free, artificially sweet frozen yogurt has about 80 calories .

Did you know?

It’s a fact: an ice cream cone contains as many calories as a full meal . What initially had to be a 175 calorie dessert could end, if you’re not careful, by having as many calories as a three-course meal. Choose a regular rather than enriched ice cream, a single serving rather than double or triple, a small or medium sized cone rather than fat and put nothing on it . Chocolate, caramel or hot fudge, chocolate nuggets or granules, marshmallow, chopped walnuts, whipped cream: one of these tempting fillings adds 100 calories. The usual 60-calorie sweetcorn will have 200 times dipped in chocolate. Tip: Check the Internet for the calories and fat of ice cream you can buy.

A positive note

Ice cream provides good amounts of calcium and protein, as well as some vitamin A and riboflavin , but at the expense of generous amounts of saturated fat, with all the risks this poses for heart disease, some cancers and other pathologies. Fruit sorbets ‘fat free but very sweet’ are preferable when you want to finish a meal with a frozen dessert. Best of all, half a cup of light frozen yogurt with fresh fruit and toasted wheat germ replaces ice cream and provides calcium, vitamins and fiber.


The ice cream suffers heat stroke when it is removed from the freezer: the surface layer melts. When it refreshes, ice crystals form and give it a grainy texture that is the desperation of ice cream lovers. This problem can be solved by adding microcrystalline cellulose, a highly purified derivative of wood that drinks the water released by the ice cream by melting and prevents it from crystallizing. Cellulose is not digestible; it is excreted as is. Guar gum, carob gum or carrageenan, all of vegetable origin, serve the same purpose. The other additives are emulsifiers such as lecithin, monoglycerides and diglycerides or polysorbates that disperse the fat molecules.

Dr. Monika Mathur

Ph.D Yale University

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