Is the usual consumption of ice cream healthy?

Frozen yogurts, with a 100% natural yogurt base, are a recommended alternative

CANARY ISLANDS7 Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Half of the annual consumption of
ice creams in Spain takes place during the
months of June, July and August. Spaniards consumed 149 million liters of ice cream between June 2020 and May 2021, 4% more than in the same period of the previous year.

For many people, this product is an ideal option to cool off in hot weather, but as the collaborating professor of the UOC's Health Sciences Department, Mariona Bolfegó, points out, regular consumption of ultra-processed ice cream
not the healthiest choice for hydrating the body. Also, contrary to what one might think, its high sugar levels increase thirst instead of quenching it.

"Ice creams and ice creams
s based on milk or cream they have a high content of sugars (sucrose, glucose, etc.), which represents at least 20% or 30% of their total weight. two balls of
small ice cream or a popsicle of ice contain about
25 grams of sugarthe equivalent of four dessert spoons of sugar«, explains Bolfegó, also a dietitian and an expert on the UOC's Master's Degree in Nutrition and Health.

WHO study

It should be remembered that the 25 grams of sugar that it normally provides
a portion of ice cream represent the maximum amount of daily intake of sugars recommended by the
World Health Organization (WHO) in adults and children. In addition, a study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), published this year, concludes that the consumption of
added sugars and sugars free should be as low as possible as part of a nutritionally adequate diet.

In this sense, both Balfegó and Montserrat Rabassa, also a collaborating professor at the UOC's Health Sciences Department, recommend, within the framework of a healthy diet such as the Mediterranean diet and the vast majority of current food guides, reducing as much as possible consumption of this type of sugar that can be found in products such as ultra-processed ice cream, among others.

Ice cream and diabetes, compatible?

Experts from the Center for Innovation of the
Children's Diabetes Hospital Sant Joan de Déu (CIDI) point out that both adults and children with diabetes
Type 1 they can eat ice cream in summer, but it is important that they take into account the type and components of the product. Whenever possible, they advise reading the nutritional label to know what components it has and what type of sweetener it uses. However, they point out that
homemade or artisan ice cream They are the most recommended, since they normally contain quality foods and the amount of sugar is taken into account during their preparation.

The UOC experts, along the same lines, point out the importance of knowing how to choose the type of ice cream well, due to its effects on the
glucose levels in the blood, depending on whether it rises more or less quickly.
«Sugars, fats and additives they incorporate may also contribute to increased body weight, increased blood glucose, or increased risk of heart disease. In this sense, it is necessary to take into account the
contribution of sugars and saturated fats of ice cream, as well as the rapid increase in blood glucose and insulin levels“, explains Balfegó.

According to Rabassa, we must bear in mind that the body does not respond in the same way when consuming ice cream —which is basically made of water, sugars and dyes— than when consuming milk or cream-based ice cream. "In the
ice cream case, sugar rises faster in the blood. On the other hand, with milk ice cream, this process is not as fast: the absorption of sugars is slower due to the nutritional composition (proteins, fats, etc., which come mainly from milk), "he clarifies.

The fewer ingredients, the better

When choosing an ice cream, whether it is water or milk, it is important to take into account the quality of the nutrients used to make it. "For this reason, it is necessary to avoid as much as possible
ultra-processed ice creambecause they include sugars, fats, salt and additives.
They use multiple ingredientssuch as casein, lactose, gluten, hydrogenated oils, glucose or fructose syrup, preservatives, colorants, sweeteners or flavor enhancers", say the UOC professors.

"These hyperpalatable commercial products, which contain several ingredients that make them more palatable, can become addictive, because they stimulate the
brain reward system«, Remarks Rabassa. To avoid this, the teacher gives advice that also serves as a guide to choose the healthiest option: »the fewer ingredients the
ice cream composition, better; it will mean that it is less processed«.

For the experts, if you want to consume ice cream regularly, the best option is to prepare it at home, controlling the
ingredients that are added and avoiding sugars or unhealthy fats. For example, it can be used
crushed and frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, melon, etc.), milk, yogurt, pure cocoa, nuts, avocado or dates, among others.
«A homemade ice cream with chocolate and nuts it can be quite caloric, but it has nothing to do with an ultra-processed ice cream; the type of fats and sugars is not the same«, adds Balfegó. As a healthy alternative, the expert also recommends frozen yogurts, with a base
100% plain yogurtwhich can now be found in supermarkets.

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