Healthy or Not: Halo Top Ice Cream
This low-cal ice cream is taking the diet world by storm. Healthy eating enthusiasts are swooning over the concept of eating an entire pint of ice cream in one serving. But does the bright glow of Halo Top deserve angel status? We are crunching the numbers and breaking down the ingredient list to get the skinny on this lighter frozen treat.
By the Numbers
In a few short years, the passion project of a California lawyer has become one of Walmart’s best sellers. Early batches of this treat came from a home kitchen, but pints of Halo Top can now be found at grocery stores throughout the country. The numbers are impressive, but the nutritional facts are what really need to be considered.
A pint of traditional vanilla ice cream contains 1000 calories, 64 grams of fat, 16 grams of protein and no fiber. A pint of Halo Top vanilla comes in at 240 calories with 8 grams of fat, 24 grams of protein and a staggering 20 grams of fiber — that’s 80 percent of the daily goal. This is where most folks will shout “hallelujah” and reach for a spoon! But before you get to the bottom of your Halo Top container, you may want to get to the bottom of what’s really in those pints.
Traditional vanilla ice cream is made from cream, milk, sugar, eggs and stabilizers like guar gum. Halo Top ingredient list starts off in a similar fashion with milk, cream and eggs; there’s also guar gum in there. What sets Halo Top apart is what’s used to displace much of the sugar and fat. This means the use of the indigestible substances including the sugar alcohol called “erythritol” and supplemental fibers.
You will find some sugar added, but much of the sweet flavor comes from the chemically-processed sugar substitute stevia. Since these types of ingredients aren’t digested normally, eating large amounts of has been found to sometimes cause stomach upset. They also help bind the low-calorie ingredients together without copious amounts of fat. For this reason, the texture of low calorie ice creams are nowhere near as creamy. Many of the flavors have very small pieces of add ins like cookies and chocolate chips to keep the calories in check – understandable, yet still a bit disappointing.
A few bites of a light ice cream like Halo Top may help you cut back on higher calorie treats. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, it may help while trying to shed a few pounds. But don’t get too excited about the promises of weight loss when downing pints a day, or even one pint in a sitting. This is not a healthy, balanced or recommended way to eat.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc. , which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.