Ice Cream & Popsicles: Healthier Options

9:59 AM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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Saint Mary's Health Care
Ala Carte: The Frozen Dessert Aisle
Product Comparisons: Popsicles, Ice Cream Sandwiches and Cartons

Sheryl Lozicki is a Registered Dietitian and Director of Nutrition and Wellness at Saint Mary's Health Care, a member of the new Mercy Health.

Intro: It's been a hot week in Western Michigan and I'm sure the frozen dessert section of the grocery store is getting lots of traffic. Is there anything even healthy in this aisle that I can feel good about giving to my family as a cool summer treat?


If we want a popsicle that has the best nutritional value, we should look for water and fruit as the first 2 ingredients. The original popsicle is an "empty calorie" food contributing no nutritional value. Most average < 50 calories/serving, don't contain any protein, vitamins, minerals or even fat because they're essentially water and sugar. Popsicles are a great choice for someone who is trying to lose weight or maybe has heart disease because they are a long lasting dessert, pre portioned, cost effective and typically contain no fat. Compare that to a bag of M&M's at 240 calories, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat and 4 times the amount of sugar.


Popsicle Brand, Traditional Orange, Cherry, Grape
Water is the 1st ingredient followed by high fructose corn
Syrup, corn syrup, sugar with juice as the 5th ingredient
45 calories, 8 grams sugar, 0 grams fat
No Vitamin or mineral benefits
$0.27 each

Edy's Fruit Bars Made with Real Fruit
Water is the 1st ingredient followed by fruit
40 calories, 10 grams of sugar (more of this is naturally
occurring from the fruit itself rather than added sugar)
Daily Value: 10% Vitamin C

Edy's Fruit Bars All Natural
Water is the 1st ingredient followed by fruit
80 calories, 20 grams of sugar (more of this in naturally
occurring from the fruit juice itself rather than added sugar),
and 1 gram fiber from the addition of real fruit.
Daily Value: 25% Vitamin C
$0.72 (More costly to manufacture and bigger size)
New Yosicle, Layers of Yogurt and Popsicle
Nonfat milk is the 1st ingredient followed by nonfat yogurt
90 calories, 12 grams sugar, 2 grams fat, 3 grams protein
Daily Value: 6% Vitamin A and 25% Calcium
This is an excellent source of calcium and a good price.
$0.32 each

As a Registered Dietitian, the best popsicle you could buy would be a combination of yogurt and real fruit. The cheapest and healthiest popsicle you could make is the old fashioned, pour 100% fruit juice into a popsicle mold, freeze and enjoy. Zoku made a fun popsicle maker sold in the Kitchenware department this past Christmas season that freezes popsicles in 5 minutes. Kids can have a lot of fun experimenting in the kitchen with different juice blends, mashing berries and adding yogurt with minimal mess.

Ice Cream Sandwiches

Traditional Ice Cream Sandwiches
Regular milk is the 1st ingredient followed by cream.
160 calories, 6 grams fat, 3grams saturated, 12 grams sugar
Daily Value: 4% Vitamin A, 4% Calcium
$0.35 each

















Light Churn Ice Cream Sandwiches
Regular milk is the 1st ingredient followed by skim milk.
140 calories, 2 grams fat , ½ gram saturated fat, 16 grams sugar
Daily Value: 2% Vitamin A, 10% Calcium
$0.35 each (note the healthier version is the same price as the

Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwich
Skim milk is the 1st ingredient.
140 calories, 2 grams fat, 1gram saturated fat, 3 gram sugar,
4 grams fiber
Daily Value: 6% Vitamin A, 6% Calcium
$0.83 each

I would purchase the Light Churn Spartan Ice Cream Sandwiches or have the kids make their own ice cream sandwiches with frozen yogurt and chocolate graham crackers. Diabetics might benefit from the lower sugar, higher fiber content in the Skinny Cow version but it is more costly. Like popsicles, light ice cream sandwiches are a good, portion-controlled option.

Gallons of Ice Cream

Ice Cream serving sizes are ½ cup. This is what ½ cup looks like in a bowl. Many people scoop up at least 3 times this amount. You should get 4 servings out of the Ben & Jerry's, 14 servings out of the Hudsonville and 12 servings out of the Edy's frozen yogurt carton. I suggest people eat it out of a small coffee cup or waffle cone to help right size the portion.

Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
270 calories, 14 grams fat, 8 grams saturated fat,
25 grams sugar
Daily Value: 10% Vitamin A, 10% Calcium
$1.00 per ½ cup serving

Hudsonville Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 ½ gram saturated fat,
12 grams sugar
Daily Value: 4% Vitamin A, 8% Calcium
$0.36 per ½ cup serving

Edy's Yogurt Blends, Cookies & Cream
120 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 15 grams sugar
Daily Value: 2% Vitamin A, 10% calcium and live active
cultures (probiotics) that may help maintain digestive health.
$0.42 per ½ cup serving

Typically, the more gourmet the ice cream, the harder it is on your arteries and your waist line. We cut the calories, total fat, saturated fat and sugar in ½ by choosing a traditional brand over the gourmet. We can cut the calories and fat further by choosing a yogurt blend, where we get the added probiotic benefits. Don't tell your kids it's OK to have a "bowl" of ice cream, because the bowl holds about 5 portions. Finally, Magic Shell, Smucker's Hot Fudge, Whipped Cream, and Sprinkles should only be in your pantry for birthday parties and Fourth of July Celebrations. Their portion size is 2 Tablespoons (2 Thumb tips) at an additional 100-200 calories per serving.

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