Dairy-Free Ice Cream Not as Healthy as You May Have Thought
Our society is quickly shifting towards foods that are natural, whole and ethically sourced. This new trend, driven by growing levels of consciousness about what we eat, has decreased the popularity of processed foods with preservatives and artificial flavors and increased the popularity of whole foods made of few, simple ingredients.
The Rise of Dairy-Free Industry
The increasing awareness about nutrition and the ingredients found in various foods is also helping people reap the health benefits of a better diet including lower risk of obesity and heart disease, healthier BMI and better quality of life, overall.
Where once ice cream was considered a high-calorie junk food avoided by the health-conscious folks, today there are a number of non-fat, sugar-free and dairy-free alternatives to ice cream that are totally delicious and guilt-free. But are they good for your health? Let’s find out
If you’re on a vegan diet or follow a dairy-free lifestyle, you don’t have to miss out on enjoying a scoop of your favorite ice cream. Grab your spoon because now there are plenty of dairy-free options in the frozen dessert section of your local grocery store that are totally vegan and diet-friendly. Most large supermarket chains carry more than 30 different varieties of dairy-free ice creams that may lack typical dairy ingredients but not flavor.
But Is Non-Dairy Healthy?
The increasing availability of dairy-free products is driven strictly by demand as more and more Americans are adopting a plant-based diet for a host of different reasons.
A survey from Mintel shows that almost half of the Americans on a dairy-free diet believe that animal proteins are not good for them. But does that mean that dairy-free or vegan ice creams are healthy? Not always. In some cases, frozen desserts advertised as ‘healthy’ may be even worse for you than the full-fat dairy kind.
Most people think that ice cream that doesn’t contain dairy as the main ingredient is low in saturated fats. This isn’t always true; especially when manufacturers use alternatives like coconut milk which has a higher saturated fat content than dairy ice cream.
Although other plant-based kinds of milk like soy, cashew, and almond, which contain less fat, are used in some commercially-available dairy-free ice cream brands, coconut milk remains a popular choice among most manufacturers because of its full-body texture, which gives frozen desserts the creaminess they are known for.
Apart from the choice of milk, most of the other ingredients in dairy ice creams and their dairy-free counterparts remain the same.
Watching Out for Cholesterol Content
Although coconut milk is a great ingredient to use instead of heavy cream in frozen desserts, it shouldn’t be considered healthy because it is dairy-free or plant-based.
Ice cream made with full-fat coconut milk often contains up to 250 calories per serving (only half cup), 20 grams or more of sugar and 15 grams of saturated fat. In comparison, regular ice creams contain 150 calories, only up to 5 grams of saturated fat and 10 grams or more of sugar per half-cup serving.
With such high saturated fat content, dairy-free ice creams tend to pose a greater health risk, increasing consumers’ chances of developing heart disease and high cholesterol. Do you still think dairy-free frozen desserts are healthier alternatives to traditional ice cream?
If you’re looking for non-dairy frozen dessert alternatives that are truly good for your health, consider reading the nutrition labels carefully, choosing a product that has 200 calories or less in one serving and contains no more than 5 grams of saturated fat. Sugar is another ingredient that you must look out for in desserts, whether dairy or non-dairy.
Halo Top is an amazing ice cream brand with plenty of flavor options for vegans under 90 calories per serving with only 8 grams of sugar. The brand also sells diet-friendly frozen desserts which are completely sugar-free and sweetened with stevia – so the next time you are on a diet and looking for an ice cream fix, you know which brand to look for in your supermarket.
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