You get fewer calories and less sugar than you would in most light ice creams. And it’s delish. Who wouldn’t be interested?
No wonder Halo Top has become America’s best-selling pint (the company claims), replacing classics like Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs. Halo Top and its competitors, including Enlightened and Breyers Delights, are battling for a spot in your freezer.
“Finally, healthy ice cream,” says Halo Top’s website. “The good-for-you ice cream,” say pints of Enlightened. “Indulgence without all the guilt!” says Breyers Delights.
Well, not exactly.
How do the new guys compare to their more traditional counterparts?
A half cup of Halo Top Mint Chip, for example, has just 60 calories, 1 gram of saturated fat, and about a teaspoon of total sugar. That’s roughtly half of what’s in Edy’s (or Dreyer’s) Slow Churned Mint Chocolate Chip light ice cream.
Häagen-Dazs’ version? It’ll set you back 280 calories, 12 grams of sat fat (more than half a day’s worth), and 5 teaspoons of sugar. Höly cow!
How do Halo Top & friends do it? In part, by replacing added sugar with (safe) erythritol and stevia leaf extract or monk fruit extract. (The natural sweetener hasn’t been well tested in animals, but monk fruit has been eaten in China for centuries.)
Most flavors of the new lower-calorie ice creams have roughly 60 or 70 calories, 1 teaspoon of total sugar, and 5 or 6 grams of protein per half cup. That’s even better than typical light ice creams (like Edy’s or Dreyer’s Slow Churned), which have around 110 calories, 3 teaspoons of total sugar, and 3 grams of protein.
“This fits perfectly in the category of ‘just because it’s a slightly better choice does not mean that it is a good choice.’”
That was what Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, told Fortune in August. Indeed. Light or not, ice cream is no health food. Halo Top, Breyers, and most Enlighteneds have some added sugar, and they’re not chock full of nutrients.
Just don’t follow Halo’s advice to “Save the bowl. You’re going to want the whole pint.” Eat a pint, and you’re up to 240 to 360 calories. So much for that halo.
Find this article interesting and useful? Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get sound, timely information about staying healthy with diet and exercise, delicious recipes, and detailed analyses of the healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you don’t already subscribe to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-minded consumers.