Wondering whether Halo Top really deserves a halo? Find out here.
Ice cream that’s so low cal you can eat the whole pint in one sitting? Sounds too good to be true! Because, like most things in life, it is.
I know I am sometimes the bearer of unwanted news, and I really don’t want to be. But when products pop up that I don’t believe deserve all the buzz they’re getting, I feel compelled to share that with you.
Since Halo Top has become so popular (Halo Top sales recently topped those of Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs) I think it’s time we take a deeper look at what’s really in it. Though Halo Top claims to be a treat you can overindulge in with no consequences, the story is not that simple.
So put that pint down for a minute, and consider the following before you decide whether or not to pick it back up for another bite.
5 Reasons to Skip the Halo Top
- Sugar Alcohols. Do you like feeling gassy? Probably not. But erythritol – the sugar alcohol Halo Top uses to sweeten its ice cream – can cause stomach aches, headaches and diarrhea in many people, especially when eaten in large amounts. Halo Top contains a significant amount – close to 25 grams if you eat the whole pint – so you may end up with some gurgling after indulging.
- Calorie-free sweetener. Halo Top uses Stevia alongside the sugar alcohols, which means that much of the sweet taste in the ice cream is coming from calorie-free sweeteners. Research has shown that regularly consuming calorie-free sweeteners is more likely to lead to weight gain than weight loss, and can make you crave sweeter foods more often. These can also interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize sugar AND with your gut microbiome (the friendly bacteria in your gut that help with digestion and more). More on this research here.
- Dessert doesn’t require protein. We don’t need more protein. Especially in our dessert! Ice cream isn’t something you sit down with when you’re looking to get a dose of nutrients. It’s something we eat after dinner, on a hot summer afternoon, or when we just want a sweet treat.
- Fiber. Does anyone really crave high-fiber ice cream? And even if they did, the fiber in Halo Top is added, not naturally-occurring, so it doesn’t provide the same benefit that you get from the fiber that’s in whole grains, vegetables and fruit.
- It’s still ice cream. The idea that any processed treat can have a “halo” is misleading. Ice cream is a treat. None of us should be eating a whole pint in one sitting, no matter what it’s made of. And if you do want to indulge in a large serving (like I sometimes do), make it the real thing. At least then your body will feel the real effects of sugar and fat and richness, which will probably make you put that spoon down earlier.
How to Identify a Better-For-You Ice Cream
No ice cream is healthy, but some ice creams are definitely higher quality than others, and this quality can make all the difference when you’re talking about a treat. Here’s what to look for in an ice cream.
- Sugar. Yes, ice cream should have sugar or some other caloric sweetener. Look for ice creams with 10-15 grams of sugar per serving — these will be sweet but not overly or unnecessarily sweet.
- Minimal ingredients. Cream and/or milk (can be from dairy, coconut, nuts, etc) should be the base.
- Organic. When a product is organic, by definition many additives may not be included.
- Not premium. If you want to skip excess calories, sugar and fat, bypass the “premium” and “super premium” ice creams in favor of regular ice cream (the kind that usually comes in a 1.5 qt or 2 qt container, rather than the pint containers). These have more air so they’re less dense, and they’ll likely satisfy a craving in about half the calories.
Ice Cream Brands I Like
- Alden’s Organic
- Coconut Bliss (dairy-free)
- Whole Foods 365 store brand
- Stonyfield Frozen Yogurt
- Julie’s Organic
- New Barn Almond Creme (dairy-free)