Is ice cream healthy (and all our dreams have come true)?
Ice cream is so beloved in America that it is the fifth most popular dessert in the country. It has its own national holiday — July 18 (in case you were wondering). Ice cream’s origins are ancient, with the first flavored iced desserts dating back to 3000 BCE.
As much as we love ice cream, whether it is plain vanilla or the latest cookie dough- chocolate fudge-caramel explosion flavor sold by your favorite local creamery, we have always known the ugly truth. Ice cream is not good for us. It is a dish to be eaten in moderation and on special occasions.
But what if we are wrong? What if ice cream actually has healthful properties, and eating it is good for us?
Is it too good to be true?
The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley. We offer fitness facilities, social events, a cafe, and a spa.
The Paseo Club also has two certified nutritionists on staff available to consult members about eating right. They are often asked about new research and ideas about nutrition.
That is why in this article, we will share why desserts are considered unhealthy, how sugar affects our athletic performance, and why ice cream may not be as bad for you as believed.
Why is dessert unhealthy?
Desserts generally have a high sugar content and little nutritional value. Therefore dessert is seen as a treat eaten only after proteins, veggies, grains, and other “smart” choices have been made.
The excess consumption of dessert is associated with a host of health problems.
- Heart attack
- Fatty liver disease
- High blood pressure
- Elevated cholesterol
- Increased chance of Alzheimer’s
How does sugar affect our health and athletic performance?
People exercise for different reasons — to prepare for an upcoming tournament, gain muscle, increase endurance, or lose weight. However, they usually have one goal: giving it their all during training sessions.
Natural sugars, like those occurring in fruits and vegetables, allow for a steady supply of energy to the body and should not be considered the same as sugar added to manufactured foods.
Processed sugar affects athletic performance by causing fatigue, inflammation, and reduced motivation. Sugar wreaks havoc on your blood sugar levels, causing energy spikes and extreme crashes.
Eating sugary foods can interfere with leptin, a hormone your body secretes that signals when you are full. If leptin levels drop, it is easy to overeat, adding extra pounds to your frame.
What is the new research about ice cream as a health food?
In the last few years prestigious researchers, including ones at Harvard, have been studying ice cream consumption and health.
In 2018 a Harvard doctoral student found that diabetics who eat one-half of a cup of ice cream a day had fewer heart problems than their non-ice cream-eating counterparts.
A second researcher found that the regular consumption of ice cream significantly reduces Insulin resistance syndrome, a health condition that is a precursor to diabetes.
How can ice cream be healthy?
No one will claim that ice cream is as healthy as a plateful of kale. But there are some theories about why ice cream may not be as unhealthy as previously thought.
- Ice cream's glycemic index (GI) is lower than brown rice. The glycemic index measures the quantity of carbohydrates in food and how quickly it breaks down into sugars in your body. Eating low glycemic index foods helps your blood sugar to stabilize and lessens the chance of developing diabetes and heart problems.
- Dairy is a ready source of calcium that supports the health of your teeth, bone, muscles, heart, and nervous system.
- Ice cream has other nutrients, including vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, D, and E. It also contains vitamin K, which supports blood clotting.
What are the final recommendations for ice cream consumption?
Ice cream’s low glycemic index, minerals, and vitamins make it a healthier choice compared to other desserts such as candy, soda, or cake.
Although ice cream is a dessert, it can be eaten in moderation. Remember, the research is based on eating only one-half cup of ice cream per day. People are notorious for underestimating portions, so pull out a measuring cup to make sure you are serving yourself the correct amount.
Blood sugar levels automatically spike after meals, especially dessert. Research shows that walking after eating – even for a few minutes – can reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. So, when you indulge in ice cream or other sweets, try to walk within the hour.
In this article, you learned about the current research on ice cream, how it may be healthier than you previously thought, and how to eat it in balance with a nourishing diet full of protein, vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
The Paseo Club is a social club in the Santa Clarita Valley. We offer over 60 fitness classes each week, tennis and pickleball, and a junior Olympic pool.
Members can sign up for group classes, personal training, or nutritional consulting to help them meet their fitness goals.
If you are interested in being a community-centered fitness club, then the Paseo Club may be the place for you. Schedule a tour of the club and meet members, instructors, and staff.
Check out these three articles to learn more about health and nutrition.