Summertime Sweets

by Ashley McAdoo

In the heat of a Southern summer, cravings for a favorite warm-weather treat abound. When it’s time to cool down with a cone-full of something sweet, you have a lot of options. Between gelato, regular ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet, you might start to wonder, “What is the healthiest choice for me?” Here are a few factors to consider when looking for a frozen treat that is both fulfilling and healthy.

Sweets.Gallery

Sugar

While all of these frozen treats contain sugar, some have more than others. Generally, one serving of ice cream (half cup) contains approximately 64 calories from 16 grams of  sugar. That’s about 42% of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily allowance for added sugars among men and 64% for women. Frozen yogurt typically contains similar levels of sugar. However, many frozen yogurt options can contain more than twice the amount of sugar noted due to added syrups and concentrates, so be sure to pay attention to other types of sweeteners on the label.

Gelato is lower in sugar than ice cream, usually containing roughly 11 grams of sugar per serving. Sugar levels for sorbets are much higher – averaging between 20 and 30 grams per serving – but the sweetness is derived largely from fruits and fruit juices rather than added sweeteners. This makes gelato and sorbet the preferred options if you’re watching the level and type of sugar you consume. But be sure to check the labels as some brands may sneak added sweeteners into these varieties too.

Nutrient Content

Vitamins and minerals are crucial for maintaining good health, and the good news is that most ice cream, frozen yogurt, and gelato are good sources of calcium, providing 10 to 15% of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant, can be found at meaningful levels in ice cream and, depending on the ingredients used, in other frozen treats as well. Sorbets have lower levels of calcium and vitamin A, however can have as much as 50% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C.

Saturated Fats

As cases of heart disease and diabetes continue to rise, it’s increasingly important to look at the fat content in the foods we’re consuming. Whole milk ice cream, when compared to the other options, is higher in saturated fats, which can contribute to unwanted weight gain and other unhealthy side effects.

For comparison, a serving size (half cup) of  ice cream contains around 4.5 grams of saturated fats, plain frozen yogurt contains around 2 grams, and gelato, being more dense than the other sweets, contains a bit more at 2.5 grams.

Sorbet generally does not contain any saturated fats; making it a healthy option in this category too.

Just remember, for every choice you make, do a thorough investigation. Reading product labels is the surest way to find out the sugar, fat, and nutrient content for each specific product. Let this help you choose wisely and enjoy your favorite frozen treat this summer!

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