Which is the healthiest frozen dessert out there?

Ask Peggy

Peggy Woodward, RD

Dear Peggy: It's ice cream season, but I'm trying to eat healthier. Can you tell me the differences among all of the frozen desserts out there and which is the healthiest? —D.R., St. Louis, Missouri

That's a very good question. My best advice is to compare nutrition labels and consider what's important to you. Are you willing to eat a smaller portion of a rich dessert, or would you rather eat more of a lighter product?


Here's an explanation of the types of frozen desserts.

  • Ice cream > a sweetened combination of milk and/or cream. Sometimes eggs are added.
  • Frozen yogurt > yogurt and sweetener, like sugar, churned together like ice cream.
  • Custard > a rich, sweetened mixture of milk and eggs.
  • Gelato > has less air than traditional ice cream, so it's dense, smooth and creamy.
  • Sherbet > made from sweetened fruit juice; it may also contain nonfat milk.
  • Sorbet > made from sweetened fruit juice but, unlike sherbet, it doesn't have milk, and its texture is softer.


Use the chart below to compare the frozen desserts nutritionally (based on 1/2-cup servings), keeping in mind that nutrition information varies among brands and flavors.

Ice Cream Calories Fat (g) Carbohydrate (g)
Ice Cream 140 7 15
Light Ice Cream 100 3 17
Fat-Free Ice Cream 90 0 21
No-Sugar-Added Ice Cream 80 4 14
Frozen Yogurt Calories Fat (g) Carbohydrate (g)
Frozen Yogurt 120 3 22
Fat-Free Frozen Yogurt 90 0 19
No-Sugar-Added Fat-Free Frozen Yogurt 70 0 18
Frozen Desserts Calories Fat (g) Carbohydrate (g)
Gelato 240 15 25
Custard 180 10 19
Sherbet 120 0 28
Sorbet 120 0 37

 
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