Nutritionist reveals the worst ice creams you can eat for your health

Woman eating ice cream in front of ice cream van
-Credit: (Image: Getty)

We all know the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet but there is nothing wrong with treating ourselves to certain foods every now and then. This is often the case in the summer time when Brits do love to indulge in goodies like ice creams and ice lollies.

They may taste delicious, especially on hot days, however, they can be packed with sugar and saturated fat, both things we need to avoid in excess. But that’s not to say you should never enjoy the occasional trip to the ice cream van.

One expert revealed the best and worst types of ice cream you can eat for your health. Nutritionist, chef and author Dorothy Woods, explained: “Ice cream, as delicious as it is, isn't exactly a healthy food. I'm not here to criticise this lovely summer snack, but it's good to know why we save this creamy delight for treats rather than making it a daily staple.”

She explained some of the less desirable ingredients found in traditional ice cream. Dorothy said: “First off, the sugar. Most ice creams are loaded with it.

“We're talking about way more than the recommended daily intake in just a few scoops. All that sugar can wreak havoc on your blood glucose levels, potentially leading to energy crashes and even contributing to long-term health issues if you're overdoing it regularly.”

She warned about the potential fat content in ice cream. “Ice cream gets its luxurious texture from cream and milk fats,” Dorothy said. “While a bit of fat in your diet is fine, ice cream tends to be high in saturated fats, which isn’t great for your heart health when consumed in excess.”

The NHS states that saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels, leaving you at greater risk of heart disease and other dangerous conditions.

She continued: “Lastly, let's not forget about calories. Ice cream is pretty energy-dense, meaning a small portion packs a big calorific punch. It's easy to underestimate how many calories you're consuming, especially when you're enjoying a bowl on a hot day.

“Also, for many people, dairy can be a bit of a digestive troublemaker. If you're even slightly lactose intolerant, a serving of ice cream might leave you feeling uncomfortable.”

She added: “Lastly, ice cream doesn't offer much in the way of essential nutrients. It's what nutritionists call ‘empty calories’ - lots of energy without the vitamins and minerals your body needs. I've got some fantastic alternatives that'll still hit the spot, plus a list of the ones to save for special occasions.”

Dorothy listed five ice creams on the unhealthier end of the spectrum that should only be consumed on for “treat yourself days”:

  • Luxury ice creams: Häagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry's, Carte D'Or - they're delicious, but they're loaded with sugar and saturated fats. Moderation is key here

  • Ice cream cones: Those waffle cones with all the toppings can really bump up the calorie count. An occasional treat rather than a regular go-to

  • Ice cream milkshakes: Those giant shakes from your local café. They're practically a meal in themselves and loaded with sugar. Best saved for special occasions

  • Ice cream sandwiches: These convenient treats are often sugar and fat traps. The combination of ice cream and biscuits can be a bit much for everyday indulgence

  • Soft serve ice cream: While it's a classic, that creamy texture often comes with a hefty dose of sugar and unhealthy fats.

But if you’re still craving a chilly treat, Dorothy recommended trying these healthier alternatives:

  • Yoghurt-based ice cream: Yeo Valley and The Collective are doing great things here. Lower fat and packed with probiotics - it's a win for your taste buds and your gut

  • Sorbet: Northern Bloc and Jude's are nailing it with their fruit-based sorbets. Dairy-free, lower in fat, and very refreshing

  • Coconut or almond milk ice cream: Booja-Booja and Coconut Collaborative have sorted out the perfect dairy-free deliciousness. Lower in saturated fat and vegan-friendly too

  • Low-sugar ice creams: Oppo and Halo Top are the clever ones using natural sweeteners. All the flavour with less of the sugar rush

  • Fruit-based and smaller lollies: While not quite ice cream, throwbacks like Fab and Mini Milk lollies are a lighter treat that can hit the spot.

Dorothy added: “It's all about balance. Enjoy your ice cream, but consider swapping in some of those healthier options now and then.”