Tempted by ice cream in this hot weather — how about trying a ‘healthier’ version?
There are now frozen treats that promise everything from better gut health to a balanced mind and body. But which have it licked? We asked Ruth Kander, a dietitian at Fleet Street Clinic in London, for her verdict.
We then rated them.
Contains ‘good’ bacteria
Biotiful Kefir Frozen Dessert Cherry, 500ml, £4.50, ocado.com
Per 100ml: Calories, 70; saturated fat, 2g; protein, 3.5g; sugar, 7.4g; salt, 0.1g
Claim: ‘Contains billions of live cultures, kefir is also high in protein and a source of vitamin B12. Reduced sugar.’
Expert verdict: Kefir [fermented milk] contains a variety of bacterial cultures and yeasts — good for gut health and the immune system — and is a good source of calcium, and while the evidence about just how many of these survive when kefir is frozen is scant, you should get a useful amount from this.
There’s a good portion of protein here — 4.2g in a two-scoop serving, approximately a small egg’s worth.
It claims to be a source of B12, but the vitamin is found naturally in milk, so this claim could apply to most dairy ice creams.
Taste: Very light but a bit watery, with barely any fruit or sauce.
Health rating: 6/10
Biotiful Kefir Frozen Dessert Cherry
High in fibre
Frill The Frozen Smoothie Intense Chocolate, 500ml, £4.99, ocado.com
Per 100ml: Calories, 70; saturated fat, 0.9g; protein, 1.6g; sugar, 8.2g; salt, 0g
Claim: ‘Made with whole fruit and veg. High in fibre. No added sugar or sweeteners. Dairy and gluten free.’
Expert verdict: This frozen chocolate ‘smoothie’ is high in filling, gut-friendly fibre coming from the dates, psyllium husk (from the husks of plant seeds) and chicory root fibre, used to give it texture and stop it melting too quickly.
You’ll get 10g fibre — a third of the recommended daily amount — in a two-scoop serving.
Although this is quite sweet, most of the sweetness comes from the dates, which are also a good source of magnesium, vitamin K and calcium — all needed for healthy bones.
It’s good to see a dessert with lower calories, less sugar and a short list of mostly natural ingredients.
Taste: Dark chocolate flavour with a slightly powdery texture.
Health rating: 10/10
Frill The Frozen Smoothie Intense Chocolate
High in vitamins
Perfect World Caramel Pecan Ice Cream, 500ml, £4.89, ocado.com
Per 100ml: Calories, 85; saturated fat, 1.4g; protein, 2.1g; sugar, 0.8g; salt, 0.055g
Claim: ‘High in 12 vitamins and minerals. Only 4.1g of sugar in the whole tub. High in dietary fibre.’
Expert verdict: The first ingredient on the list is water, then sweeteners, coconut milk — then nuts and added vitamins and minerals.
Nuts are an excellent source of vitamins and I don’t understand the need to add vitamins and minerals to ice cream. You could end up ingesting excessive amounts if you’re already taking supplements to boost your intake.
Although there are no added sugars, the sweeteners here include xylitol, which can cause gut discomfort for some people, even in small doses.
Taste: Robust caramel flavour.
Health rating: 3/10
Perfect World Caramel Pecan Ice Cream
No added sugar
Magnum No Added Sugar Forest Fruits, three 90ml lollies, £3.50, most supermarkets.
Per 100ml: Calories, 170; saturated fat, 6.9g; protein, 2.8g; sugar, 3.8g; salt, 0.1g
Claim: ‘No added sugar, and 154 calories [per lolly].’
Expert verdict: This is almost 20 per cent smaller than a Classic Magnum, with 36 per cent fewer calories. It’s sweetened with maltitol and erythritol, which can cause bloating or diarrhoea in people with a sensitive gut.
The cocoa butter and coconut oil here gives these lollies a high saturated fat content, and although there’s some suggestion that the saturated fat in coconut oil may be metabolised differently from animal fats, there’s no concrete proof.
If you love Magnums but are worried about the calories, fat and sugar, I’d go for a smaller portion of what you fancy, and have a mini regular Magnum rather than this.
Taste: Fruity ice cream with a tasty layer of milk chocolate.
Health rating: 5/10
Magnum No Added Sugar Forest Fruits
100% fruit & veg
Pip Organic Rainbow Fruity Ice Lolly With Cheeky Veg, six 140ml lollies, £3.99, waitrose.com
Pip Organic Rainbow Fruity Ice Lolly With Cheeky Veg
Per 100ml: Calories, 48; saturated fat, 0g; protein, 0g; sugar, 10.6g; salt, 0g
Claim: ‘100 per cent organic fruit and veg, dairy, lactose and nut-free, no added sugar or sweeteners, contributes to a child’s five a day.’
Expert verdict: These lollies are made with 93 per cent organic fruit and 7 per cent organic veg. There’s also a tiny bit of guar gum — a plant extract used as a thickener.
The generous teaspoon of sugar in each lolly comes from the processed fruit and veg, which is better than added sugar — but you won’t get the fibre that the whole fruit or vegetables provide.
It’s nice to see a snack for children that isn’t packed with added sugar, fat, salt and chemicals — and makes a useful contribution towards their five a day.
Taste: Refreshing, but fruit flavours are a bit too subtle.
Health rating: 9/10
With CBD oil
Oppo Choc And Chill, 475ml, £5.95, oppobrothers.com
Per 100ml: Calories, 82; saturated fat, 2.4g; protein, 3.1g; sugar, 6.3g; salt, 0.05g
Claim: ‘Enriched with natural CBD oil to rebalance mind and body. Up to 60 per cent fewer calories and sugar than regular ice cream.’
Expert verdict: CBD is a cannabis extract thought to help ease pain and anxiety but this is unproven, and at 12.5mg CBD in a two-scoop serving — about half the dose you’d find in an average over-the-counter CBD capsule — there is only a little here. This is significantly lower in calories and sugar than standard ice cream.
Because of the CBD I wouldn’t recommend this for children, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or taking regular medication.
Taste: Delicious, rich chocolate flavour with very subtle aftertaste of sweetener.
Health rating: 7/10
Oppo Choc And Chill
A source of protein
Halo Top Peanut Butter Swirl Lollies, three 100ml lollies, £3.95, tesco.com
Per 100ml: Calories, 100; saturated fat, 1.4g; protein, 3.9g; sugar, 7.8g; salt, 0.18g
Claim: ‘100 calories. Source of protein.’
Expert verdict: Protein is important for muscles and should help to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Thanks to its 9 per cent peanut content and added milk protein concentrate, cream and eggs, one lolly will provide almost the same amount of protein as a small egg — and almost double the amount of some ice creams.
The peanut butter does mean this ice cream is significantly saltier than others here, with one lolly providing 7 per cent of the daily limit.
Taste: A powerful peanut flavour, similar to how a Snickers bar would taste without the chocolate.
Health rating: 5/10
Halo Top Peanut Butter Swirl Lollies
No artificial ingredients
Banana Scoops Banilla Nice Cream, 500ml, £5.49, ocado.com
Per 100g: Calories, 97; saturated fat, 0g; protein, 1g; sugar, 21.1g; salt, 0.02g
Claim: ‘Made with banana puree instead of dairy. We never add any chemicals, artificial ingredients or refined sugars.’
Expert verdict: Made with 80 per cent banana puree, a two-scoop serving of this dairy-free ice cream could count as one of your five a day.
Pureeing breaks down the fibres in fruit, which means the natural sugars are likely to be absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream and could spike blood sugar levels, but that said, bananas are a healthy ingredient.
You’ll get four teaspoons of sugar in a serving, although most will come naturally from the bananas so it doesn’t count as added sugar.
I like the fact that there are just a handful of simple ingredients.
Taste: Very fresh, like a super smooth and tasty banana sorbet.
Health rating: 8/10
Banana Scoops Banilla Nice Cream
Reduced rise in blood sugar
Frank’s Dialicious Vanilla Ice Cream, 1 litre, £2.10, asda.com
Per 100g: Calories, 161; saturated fat, 6.1g; protein, 4.1g; sugar, 13.8g; salt, 0.1g
Claim: ‘Sought after by diabetics. Made with fructose which leads to a lower blood glucose rise.’
Expert verdict: This is a pretty unhealthy product. It’s made with reconstituted skimmed milk and sweetened with fructose — fruit sugar —and dextrose.
Although fructose is said to have less impact on blood sugar levels than refined sugar, it’s been shown to play a big part in a host of chronic metabolic problems, including cardiovascular disease, obesity and gout.
There are ice creams that are lower in sugar, fat and calories than this and it’s no better than regular supermarket ice cream, so it’s not something I’d buy if I had diabetes.
Taste: Nice, creamy texture with subtle vanilla flavour.
Health rating: 1/10
Frank’s Dialicious Vanilla Ice Cream