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Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts

Dear DOCTOR diet:

I am an ice cream-a-holic. I love the stuff. I know that it is high in fat and bad for my arteries, but I am tickled about the type and brand of ice cream I eat. Why does ice cream get bad press?


Dear “Ben”:

You used the key words: “I know.” You know that ice cream is loaded with fat, but you choose to eat it anyhow. Bravo! When people make a deliberate choice and are ready to live with the consequences, I say, “Enjoy.” You know the consequences and are willing to take the risk. I hope, for your doctor’s sake, that you and your family don’t whine about your illness later on.

You would not write to me or read what I write if you truly didn’t care about what I have to say on this subject. Therefore, I want to give you something to think about and, perhaps, expand your choices.




Rich and creamy

Made from cream. 60%–85% of the calories are from fat; 500–650 calories/cup*

Contains butterfat. Read the container. If more than 50% of calories are from fat, it is in the butterfat range. With 2 cups, you are in the 1000-calorie range. “Is this worth 10 miles of walking to burn off the calories?”


Approximately 40%–50% fat; 250–350 calories/cup

Ice cream made from milk—not cream. The milk-fat content may vary according to brand and marketing gimmick. Terms on package labels: “low fat” (compared to regular), “reduced fat, “light,” “reduced calories.” May be made from whole milk (55% fat by dry weight), low-fat milk (35%), or skim milk (10%). Scrutinize package labels if you want fewer calories or reduced heart disease risk. The brands I looked at (for this column) were approximately 40% fat. Again, this is well above AHA recommendations.


100–150 calories/cup

Some are fat-free, low fat, sugar free.

“Fat free”

10% or less fat†

Sorbet (not technically ice cream)

Non-fat; contains approximately 150 calories/cup

Fruit and fruit juices whipped into a frozen concoction.

*A cup equals approximately one-and-one-half scoops.

†The Food and Drug Administration lets labels slide by this much, but this is still within AHA guidelines. Ice creams that are “fat free” and “sugar free” will have considerably fewer calories and less fat. For example, a cup of rich ice cream may have 500+ calories whereas sugar-free, fat-free may ice cream may be in the range of 150 calories/cup.

My only comment about ice cream is that it is “yummy.” I, too, am an ice cream-o-holic. I can tell you that the brand I buy has 60 calories/serving at 16 servings. The half-gallon, therefore, contains 960 calories, which I “choose” to consume most Sunday evenings.

Remember: The maximum fat recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) is no more then 30% of a daily diet and half of that from vegetable oils. The fat content of rich ice cream is virtually all saturated fat—well above the 15% saturated fat max recommended by the AHA.

Pick your battles. When is the “real” stuff important, and when can you “get by” with the imitations? I personally am able to “get by” most of the time. Every once in awhile, though, that ice cream bar with the chocolate is definitely “worth it.”

Recently, my wife saw a “Southern Belle” at the beach, who was wearing a designer swimsuit. She had a perfect body, perfect make up, painted nails, even jewelry—but chocolate was smeared from ear-to-ear across her pretty face. Her embarrassed husband couldn’t distract her enough to clean it off. She was simply “stuck” on that chocolate ice cream bar. We are certain that she hadn’t touched one of them for months (in preparation for her debut at the beach)—but snapped!

Don’t snap. Don’t feel deprived. Just make a choice.