Cold, creamy and sweet, ice cream can be hard to resist. In fact, the United States is the largest consumer of this frozen dessert, with an average person consuming 48 pints of ice cream per year. But there’s an ongoing debate in the world of food and nutrition—could ice cream be bad for you? Let’s see how it adds up under close scrutiny.
1. Pro: It’s A Great Energy Booster
According to the US Department of Agriculture, one-half cup of vanilla ice cream provides 137 kilocalories of energy, about twice the amount in one-half cup of whole milk, making it a great choice for a quick boost of energy. But if you’re trying to lose weight or wish to avoid the sugar rush, you might want to stay away from it.
2. Pro: It Is Packed With Vitamins
Joanne Marie, PhD in anatomy from the Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia says that ice cream is a dietary source of several important nutrients. Particularly rich in calcium and phosphorus, with about 10 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of these minerals in a single, one-half cup serving, ice cream also contains Vitamin A, C, D and E, as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and Vitamins B6 and B12.
3. Con: It Is Hard To Digest
The Ayurveda school of thought indicates that ice cream, which is made from hard-to-digest dairy, is even harder to digest because it is frozen. Dairy also increases the amount of mucous in the body. Michelle Fondin, author of The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda: An Easy Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle and the owner of The Ayurvedic Path yoga studio in Herndon, Virginia, explains that anything cold puts out the digestive fire, known as agni in Ayurveda. This agni, which naturally exists in our stomachs facilitates proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Ice-cold food puts out this agni just like throwing water on a fire, resulting in digestive problems. Try spicing your ice cream with ginger, cinnamon or cardamom to add an element of heat.
4. Con: It’s Not For Those Who Are Lactose-Intolerant
According to PubMed Health, about 30 million Americans are lactose-intolerant. If you’re one of them, ice cream has to be off your shopping list. That’s because it is dairy-based and contains lactose, a milk sugar that your body is unable to break down and digest due to lack of an enzyme called lactase. This could lead to digestive problems.
Find The Balance
Gina Caccavalla, Ayurveda Health Practitioner and Clinical Ayurveda Specialist based in Westhampton Beach, New York, recommends choosing an all-natural brand of ice cream. Look for the ones with less sugar or with other natural sweeteners, or pick a vegan brand made with non-dairy milk such as coconut, almond, rice or cashew. While the frozen dessert could give you the chills, it does have certain health benefits and undeniably good flavors. It’s for you to decide how best to enjoy it without harming your health.