Why We Love Ice Cream

Happy National Ice Cream Day! You can and should indulge in this creamy treat; watch your portions and toppings and the occasional cone is a perfectly reasonable dessert.
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Photo by: Stephen Murello ©Stephen Murello

Stephen Murello, Stephen Murello

 Happy National Ice Cream Day! As a former scooper and life long ice cream-aholic, I consider myself somewhat of an aficionado. Even though my career is all about nutrition, I know there are many reasons to love this creamy cold confection.

Ice Cream Facts
Originating in ancient China, ice cream is a combination of cream, milk, sweeteners, flavorings and add-ins like fruit, nuts and candy. Did you know these fun facts?
  • The first ice cream parlor opened its doors in America in New York City in 1776.
  • We have an inventor from the 1904 World’s Fair to thank for making ice cream more portable -- with a cone.
  • While softening in the microwave is a popular method, you risk over-melting or even burning the ice cream. For best results, allow it to sit out on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes before dishing it out.
  • Ice cream relies on fat to make it smooth and creamy – the higher the fat content, the less time it will take to soften.
  • Research has found that eating ice cream in a cone may be the smarter choice. Licking away with the warmth of the tongue releases the flavor better, plus a cone takes longer to eat.
Nutrition Info

One-half cup of vanilla ice cream has about 215 calories and 11 grams of fat  (the same amount of chocolate has 250 calories and 16 grams of fat) -- if you pay attention to portions, this is reasonable for a sweet treat. Opting for soft serve ice cream (typically made from more milk than cream) will save some fat; a small vanilla cone will set you back the same amount of calories (about 230) with only 7 grams of fat.

Shakes and candy-topped sundaes are what can get you into real trouble. A 16-ounce strawberry shake from a popular fast food joint packs in 600 calories. A medium sundae with chunks of cookies or candy can easily reach 800+ calories per serving.

There’s a bright side to ice cream nutrition facts. Ice cream has 5 grams of protein and 10% of your daily calcium needs per half-cup serving. So while you shouldn’t rely on ice cream solely to meet your needs, there’s some benefit to an occasional scoop.

Fun Ideas

Follow these tips to make sure your ice cream indulgence doesn’t sink your healthy eating plan.

  • Make fruit the star – compliment fresh or grilled fruit with a dollop of ice cream.
  • Make an ice cream float with a small amount of soda (or better yet, flavored sparkling water) and a small scoop of ice cream.
  • Try the classic Italian combo of hot espresso and ice cream called affogato.
  • Whip up a perfectly-portioned milkshake with ½ cup ice cream, fresh fruit and a splash of milk.
  • Go easy on the toppings: Try our healthy swaps.
Recipes To Try:
Tell Us: How much do you love ice cream?
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