Few things satisfy our taste buds and cool us down on a hot summer day quite like a bit of ice cream. Served in a bowl or a cone, with sprinkles or without, an ice cold scoop or two can really hit the spot. It’s easy to assume that something so sweet and decadent can be bad for us, and in truth one shouldn’t go too crazy with any kind of dessert. But a bit of ice cream every now and then can offer some surprising health benefits. Read on as we break down the benefits of ice cream, but don’t read too fast! We wouldn’t want you to get an ice cream headache.
Crammed With Calcium
Ice cream is a rich source of calcium and phosphorus. Both minerals serve a crucial role in supporting proper muscle functioning and skeletal health, strengthening bones and helping to lower the risk of developing osteoporosis. Calcium also helps your blood clot normally, which helps maintain a regulated heartbeat, proper blood flow, and less injury-prone muscles.
More Vitamins & Minerals
In addition to being a good source of calcium and phosphorus, a typical serving of ice cream offers a wide variety of fortifying and beneficial nutrients that include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B-12
- Vitamin D
Heart Health & Diabetes
Considering its high amount of sugar and reputation for unhealthiness, you wouldn’t think that ice cream would be good for your heart or for lowering your risk of diabetes. According to researchers at Harvard, eating a small amount of ice cream could do just that. Their surprising findings have found a correlation between the consumption of low-fat ice cream and a lower risk of developing diabetes. A similar connection was found between eating low-fat ice cream and a reduced risk of heart problems.
The key here is low-fat. The studies found these health benefits only manifest when people consume low-fat, nondairy, or skim milk products. Portion size is also critical: a little bit of dairy can be good. Eating a big heaping bowl every day, however, will do much more harm than good.
Studies have found that eating ice cream can stimulate the pleasure center in our brain that releases dopamine and endorphins. These neurotransmitters can act as stress relievers, flooding our body with a feeling of pleasure, well-being, and accomplishment. It’s why a little scoop of ice cream at the end of a hard day can really hit the spot.
As we mentioned earlier: ice cream can be good for you in moderation. Getting the right kind also goes a long way. Stick with ice cream made from real ingredients as much as possible, as those will often avoid the higher sugar content and artificial sweeteners that can be found in more adulterated ice creams. Go for ice creams made with cream, milk, cocoa, and vanilla beans over heavily processed alternatives.
While just as high in sugar content as conventional ice cream, gelato can be a healthy alternative thanks to its traditionally much smaller serving sizes and for being packed with more protein than regular ice cream. Sorbet is often perceived as being the best choice for healthy frozen treats, but they often have a higher sugar content than hard ice cream and less nutrients. The one main advantage sorbet has over ice cream and gelato is offering a much stronger dose of vitamin C.
As to the question of whether or not soft serve is healthier than standard ice cream, the truth is that they aren’t much different on a nutritional level. Both varieties have analogous sugar and fat content, with soft serve being higher in sodium and carbohydrates while hard ice cream has (on average) a lower saturated fat content.
Article by Austin Brietta
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