Everyone loves frozen treats, especially on a hot, summer day. They provide a delicious way to cool down and curb your hunger after a long bike ride or trip to the beach. If you’re going to indulge in a sweet, frozen treat, which one is actually healthier – ice cream, frozen yogurt or gelato?
Ice cream is certainly a favorite frozen treat for most people who don’t have a problem with dairy products. Ice cream is made from milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks. On the average, one cup of plain vanilla ice cream has about 275 calories, 33 grams of carbohydrates and 14 grams of fat. Ice cream is no doubt a delicious frozen treat, but the mixture of cream and sugar makes it high in both calories and fat. According to the FDA, to be labeled as ice cream a frozen treat must have a minimum of 10 percent and maximum of 16 percent milk fat.
Frozen yogurt is made with cultured milk instead of cream, so it doesn’t have an FDA fat requirement. Although frozen yogurt is lower in fat than ice cream, calories and sugar can still present a problem. One cup of plain, low-fat frozen yogurt averages about 220 calories, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 38 grams of sugar and 3 grams of fat. Typical soft-serve frozen yogurt cups have about 235 calories, but that doesn’t include those yummy toppings which range from healthy fruits to high-calorie chocolate bits and cookie crumbs.
Gelato is made from milk, sugar and egg yolks. Gelato contains no cream like ice cream, so it does contain less of the unhealthy saturated fats. Unfortunately, what it lacks in unhealthy fats, it makes up for in calories and added sugar. In comparison to ice cream, one cup of plain vanilla gelato has about 400 calories, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 25 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of fat. Because of the high-calorie and sugar content, a typical serving for gelato products is one-half cup instead of one cup.
When comparing the health benefits of these delicious frozen treats, keep in mind that the American Heart Association recommends that your total daily fat intake should be no more than 35 percent of your daily calories, and saturated fats should be limited to no more than seven percent of your daily calories.