Minerals, Nutrition | March 5, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Australians love ice cream. According to a 2014 report by Roy Morgan Research, 73% of us purchased a tub or carton of ice cream at least once in the previous 12 months. We are one of the biggest ice cream consumers in the world.
Australia New Zealand Food Standards Codes define ice cream as:
“A sweet frozen food that is made from cream or milk products or both, and other foods, and is generally aerated.”
According to the codes, in order for food to be sold as ice cream, it has to contain no less than:
Ice cream contains some important nutrients.
Ice cream, being a dairy product, contains some essential minerals and vitamins. These include the bone building minerals calcium and phosphorus; potassium - which is necessary for maintaining your blood pressure; the immune vitamins D and A, as well as B vitamins that are needed for energy production.
Ice cream can make you happy. When neuroscientists at the Institute of Psychiatry in London scanned the brains of people eating vanilla ice cream, they found that it immediately triggered the part of the brain - “the pleasure centre” - known to activate when people enjoy themselves.
Ice cream may help you get pregnant. A Harvard study of more than 18,000 women between the ages of 24 and 42 found that women who ate full-fat ice cream two or more times a week were had less trouble conceiving than women who had full-fat ice cream less than once a week, or those who had more low-fat dairy products.
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Sugar and fat. Ice cream is high in sugar. A serve (1/2 cup) of vanilla ice cream, for example, contains around 14 g sugar – about 3.5 teaspoons. High intake of added sugars can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dental cavities. In addition, ice cream has a high glycaemic index. It means that eating ice cream can result in a sharp rise in blood sugar. High levels of blood sugar trigger excessive insulin release (the hormone that transports glucose into the cells), and over time may leads to insulin resistance, a condition where after a while the cells begin to resist so much insulin, so both insulin and sugar are at high levels in the blood. Ice cream is also high in saturated fat, which is the type of fat that Heart Foundation Australia warns us against as it is associated with high cholesterol levels, in particular increasing the bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Lactose. Ice cream contains lactose, a milk sugar. Many people suffer from lactose intolerance, which is caused by a deficiency of lactase, an enzyme that is produced in the lining of the gut. You need this enzyme to absorb and digest lactose. If lactose is undigested it can cause abdominal discomfort, bloating, flatulence, nausea, and diarrhoea.
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Additives. In addition to milk and sugar, ice cream is made with many additives – colouring, flavouring, stabilisers and emulsifiers. These ingredients provide no nutritional value, and in excess may be harmful for your health.
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Ice cream headaches. Many people experience a sudden headache, also known as "brain freeze", after eating ice cream. Scientists explain that the cold sensation in the roof of the mouth causes small blood vessels to constrict and then rapidly dilate, resulting in the brain getting pain signals.
Eating a small portion of ice cream occasionally is probably not harmful for your health. However, you may prefer one of the following options:
Sorbet. Sorbet is a dairy-free frozen dessert made from fruit or fruit juice, sugar and water. Again, store-bought sorbets may be loaded with added sugar and artificial flavours.
Frozen yoghurt. Yoghurt is prepared from milk fermented by added beneficial bacteria, and is much lower in fat than ice cream, hence has been marketed as a healthy alternative to ice cream; however, it is not always the case. The good bacteria do not survive the freezing temperatures, and although the fat content is low, frozen yoghurt is not necessarily lower in sugar than ice cream.
Vegan ice creams. Technically not an ice cream as they do not contain any milk. These “ice creams” are dairy free and are usually made from coconut, although you can find soy-based ones as well. They are not necessarily healthier than regular ice cream, as some are very high in sugar and contain as many additives.
Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code – Standard 2.5.6 – Ice cream. Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2015L00424
Chavarro, J.E. et al., 2007. A prospective study of dairy foods intake and anovulatory infertility. Human Reproduction, 22(5), pp.1340–1347. Available at: http://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/22/5/1340/2914869/A-prospective-study-of-dairy-foods-intake-and
CHOICE, 2014. What you need to know about ice cream. Available at: https://www.choice.com.au/food-and-drink/dairy/yoghurt-and-ice-cream/articles/ice-cream-guide
Harvard Health, 2017. What causes ice cream headache? Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/what-causes-ice-cream-headache
Heart Foundation. Saturated and trans fat. Available at: https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/healthy-eating/food-and-nutrition/fats-and-cholesterol/saturated-and-trans-fat
Roy Morgan Research, 2014. Tubs of joy: Australians still love ice cream -. Available at: http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/5897-australians-still-love-ice-cream-201410282204
The Guardian, 2005. How ice cream tickles your brain. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/apr/29/health.science
University of Guelph, Food Science. The Ice Cream eBook. Available at: https://www.uoguelph.ca/foodscience/book-page/ice-cream-ebook