Ask Amelia Nutrition Products I Love

Is Halo Top Ice Cream Healthy?

Wondering whether Halo Top really deserves a halo? Find out here.

Why Halo Top should have no Halo

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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)

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  • Reply
    October 5, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    VERY useful Amelia. We’ve received “free” coupons for discounted Halo Top, and were wondering about it. Thanks for the good comments.

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      October 13, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      I’m glad it was helpful, Dad. Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Reply
    October 17, 2017 at 7:38 am

    Amen! I tried Halo Top for the first time and was mildly horrified by how chemical-ey it tasted. I was shocked people loved it so much.

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      October 25, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      I am too, Joanna! I can’t figure out the appeal – especially coming from people who are focused on health. You would think they’d read the ingredients then step away.

  • Reply
    April 14, 2018 at 9:11 pm

    Was just considering this treat. Great info about the sugar alcohols and stevia. Saved me a puzzled read of the label. I never liked stevia, so that’s a non-starter, right there. Thanks for the strong info,Amelia.

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      May 4, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      You’re welcome. Real ice cream is hard to mimic in low-calorie form!

  • Reply
    July 23, 2018 at 3:24 am

    You failed to mention the use of antifreeze in some ice creams including “healthy” ones.

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      September 11, 2018 at 1:37 pm

      I didn’t know there was antifreeze in ice cream — what is the name of the ingredient are you referring to?

  • Reply
    October 17, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    What are your opinions on the Dairy Free Halo ice cream? Any difference in that one?

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      December 7, 2018 at 10:27 am

      The dairy free Halo Top poses the same concerns for me, Lina.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    I think the choice will come down to the person. Like, I eat spicy food all the time, so the gassy concern of Ice Cream will be tiny in comparison to my daily Indian contribution. Additionally, it’s difficult for me to hit the daily protein I need for my fitness goals, so more protein can’t hurt (And more calories is detrimental). Filling protein losses with just-as-processed protein powder is not healthier.

    The final decision should definitely be based on killing that sweetness addiction, so for that reason, Halo and any non-fruit sweet food should be avoided (Ditto for calorie-free sweeters causing weight gain, for the sugar addiction associated with eating any kind of sweet food). For someone still in “sugar re-hab”, I think Halo should be on their radar (Especially if they’ve got tight fitness goals, where real ice cream becomes an impossible meal).

    But the goal should be to wipe the sweets and keep that fridge stocked with fruit!

  • Reply
    April 20, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    A way too heavy handed review of an okay item. In moderation this is a fine dessert. I’m vegetarian (eat moderate amounts of dairy) and it is nice to have something sweet on hand for occasional use. Fruit is very high in natural sugars and should be added to diet in moderation. Years ago I used to eat regular full-fat and low-fat ice cream and it made me feel awful so I quit, with no regrets. But nothing bad happens when I eat Halo, I don’t have stomach gurgles or indigestion or anything like that. Maybe people are over-eating it? Over-eating anything will cause distress. I think it probably does not cause spikes in glucose levels due to containing stevia and fiber. As for protein…I am vegetarian so always looking for ways to add protein and Halo’s protein content is a plus for me.

    • Reply
      Amelia Winslow
      May 6, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      Sounds like this product works for you, Bean. I always recommend people eat what makes them feel good!

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