'Unhealthy' ice cream actually has key health benefits, experts say

A man and woman eating ice cream
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An unhealthy food many of us have for desserts and snacks actually has some key health benefits if eaten in moderation, according to diet and nutrition experts. While ice cream is high in fat and sugar - it is also a good source of calcium and protein, experts say, and is better for you than many sweet treats.

Calcium is vital for strong bones and teeth, as well as for muscle health. Some ice cream will provide as much protein as an egg. The key ingredients in the ice cream mean it is better for you than some sweets and cakes which are packed with as much fat and sugar but do not come with the beneficial nutrients.

The blood nutrients in the ice cream help balance out the sugars - meaning you get a lower sugar spike and less risk of developing type 2 diabetes - so long as you only eat ice cream in moderation. Dietitian Shelley Balls told Yahoo Life two-thirds of a cup of dairy ice cream contains about 12 per cent of the daily recommended intake of calcium.

She said: "It's great news that when we decide to enjoy a sweet treat, it can also provide some nutritional benefits." Dietitian Stephanie Van't Zelfden said the combination of moderate fat and protein made ice cream a good option for diabetics as it 'reduces blood sugar spikes that you might see when eating lower fat desserts like sorbet'.

Because it is made with milk and cream, ice cream can also be a good source of various vitamins such as A, D, and B12, which are important for overall health.

Psychologist Dr Lisa Lieberman said: "When we eat ice cream, our bodies release feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin that play important roles in our brain and bodies. These neurotransmitters help us to feel pleasure or happiness and keep us feeling awake or alert. They also play a role in digestion and sleep."