Ice Cream Explainer: What Is The Healthiest Choice For You?

TheSkinny: Ahh, ice cream. Summer’s simplest pleasure. But wait…ice cream these days is actually pretty complicated, for those of us wondering what the “healthiest” choice is.


First, the varieties: Do you know your gelato from your FroYo? Your sorbet from your granita? And just what is “high-protein” and “dairy-free” ice cream? SHAPE explains all with the best guide we found to navigate which choice is best for you.


At our house, it’s gelato. That’s due to its simple ingredients (no emulsifiers or stabilizers), lower milk fat content than ice cream, density—which allows you to eat it slowly—and experimental flavors often based on seasonal ingredients (per our local gelateria: “if eggplant is in season, expect a savory eggplant gelato!”). It’s clearly the sexier choice.


As for the cone: If you’re going cone—which is really the only way to go—the waffle cone is the enemy-outlier with about 120 calories, compared to 17 in a cake/wafer cone and 40 in a sugar cone.

OMFG alert: In the world of “bigger and Instagrammable better” ice creams, we knew there were some insane concoctions out there, but what we didn’t know is that several of them have more fat and calories than a full one-pound rack of ribs. Find out the top offenders in this WebMD article—including one item that “tips the scales” with 1,470 calories and 28 grams of saturated fat. This article provides tips on better choices, and also this epic quote:

“Frozen yogurt is lower in fat than ice cream, but I doubt that people go into TCBY expecting the calories and saturated fat of two pork chops, a Caesar salad, and a buttered baked potato—in a drink.”

Props! You nailed it, nutritionist-who-was-quoted-in-the-story.


To summarize: Consult the SHAPE article above to determine what type of ice cream/frozen treat you want, based on your taste desires and nutrition needs. Then, opt for the wafer cone, a small or “kids” portion, and skip the toppings or built-in treats (cookies, chips, caramel, etc.). Then, take time to enjoy it. Done. Have your ice cream and eat it too.

Because ice cream is fun: We found some diversions, including a study that reveals some surprising personality traits based on whether you prefer chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. (Hint: If you like one of these, you’re more likely to enjoy doing laundry.) And this we love: A global tour of the most delicious ice cream styles around the world.

Finally, file under: Semi guilt-free. What’s better than a freezing cold ice cream sandwich on a hot summer night? This recipe for a  frozen yogurt sandwich, packed with 16 grams of protein, along with the benefits of Greek yogurt.

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