NEW | $0 out-of-pocket video consults.
ENDS IN 00:00:00:00
NEW | $0 out-of-pocket video consults.
ENDS IN 00:00:00:00
Free shipping & prescription with all orders
ENDS IN 00:00:00:00
Free shipping & prescription with all orders
ENDS IN 00:00:00:00
Promo code SPRING2022 will be automatically applied at checkout!

Healthy Ice Cream: Best Brands and Homemade Recipes

Molly Downey, RDN, LDN

Published in Nutrition

7 min read

February 28, 2024
someone holding an ice cream cone
someone holding an ice cream cone

Who doesn't love a scoop of creamy Haagen-Dazs ice cream? It's a treat enjoyed by millions worldwide. However, while these kinds of ice cream brands are a delightful indulgence, many healthier alternatives are emerging with fewer added sugars, unhealthy fats, and calories.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the world of healthy ice cream options, including both store-bought brands and delicious homemade recipes. From low-calorie to protein-packed options, there's something here for everyone looking to satisfy their sweet tooth without derailing their health goals.

Is It Possible for Ice Cream to Be Healthy?

three bowls of ice cream
Source: Unsplash

First things first: can ice cream be part of a healthy diet? The answer is yes. Like most foods, moderation is key, but when you prioritize your health by following a whole foods diet, getting plenty of exercise, sleeping well, and prioritizing stress management, enjoying the occasional ice cream is perfectly fine.

Plus, while traditional ice cream may be known for being high in sugar and calories, there are alternatives that may be more suitable for your health goals.

Whether it's chocolate ice cream, vanilla ice cream, or any flavor in between, by making informed choices and being mindful of portion sizes, almost anyone can include the occasional ice cream in their diet.

How to Choose Healthier Ice Cream

When shopping for the best ice cream options, there are a few key factors to consider. FIrst, you’ll want to consider your individual health goals and dietary preferences. For example, if you're following a keto diet, there are specific ice cream options available to suit your needs that may be lower in sugar and carbs.

Next, assess the nutrition label of your brand of choice. Aim for low added sugars, but be mindful of added artificial sweeteners that may lead to unwanted symptoms such as GI distress.

Additionally, consider the protein content, especially if you're looking to support muscle growth or feel fuller for longer. It's also important to note that traditional ice cream may have simple ingredients like cream, milk, eggs, and sugar whereas "healthier" options have a longer ingredient list, which is why it’s essential to consider overall health goals and read the nutrition label.

Our 5 Favorite Healthier Ice Cream Brands

healthier ice cream brands

1) Nick’s Ice Cream

Nick's Ice Cream is a light ice cream alternative to traditional ice cream brands that prioritizes high-quality ingredients and minimizes added sugars.

Nutritionist Patrick Scheel, RDN, LDN adds, “they also use natural sweeteners like stevia and erythritol, which is a better option for blood sugar regulation. Nick's low-calorie ice cream has 230 calories per pint, which makes it a sensible choice for anyone who is watching their calorie intake.”

Nutrition Facts

Vanilla Flavor: Serving Size : 2/3 cup

  • Calories: 80
  • Total Fat: 6 grams
  • Total Carbs: 18 grams
  • Fiber: 7 grams
  • Total Sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

2) Halo Top Ice Cream

Halo Top uses natural sweeteners like stevia and erythritol to achieve a lower sugar content while maintaining a satisfying sweetness, making it a preferable choice for health-conscious consumers.

Nutritionist Payton Baker, RD, MS, LMNT adds, “Halo Top Ice Cream can be a healthier alternative to traditional ice cream brands as it's low calorie, low fat, and contains some protein.” 

This brand is known for its creamy texture and is available in over a dozen different ice cream flavors, including chocolate chip cookie dough, red velvet, and pistachio.

Nutrition Facts

Vanilla Flavor: Serving Size : 2/3 cup

  • Calories: 100
  • Total Fat: 2 grams
  • Total Carbs: 21 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Total Sugars: 7 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams

3) Enlightened Ice Cream

enlightened ince cream
Source: EatEnlightened.com

Nutritionist Katrina Larsen, MS, RDN, CDCES says, “I love a brand called Enlightened Ice Cream, as it’s a keto-friendly, lower-calorie option that satisfies my sweet tooth. It’s another great option if you’re trying to incorporate a little extra protein and fiber into your diet while still enjoying a satisfying treat!”

Nutrition Facts

Vanilla Flavor: Serving Size : 2/3 cup

  • Calories: 100
  • Total Fat: 2.5 grams
  • Total Carbs: 20 grams
  • Fiber: 8 grams
  • Total Sugars: 5 grams
  • Protein: 7 grams

4) Rebel Ice Cream

Nutritionist Christie Border, MS, CNS shares, ”Rebel Ice Cream contains high-fat, low-carb ingredients, making it suitable for those following ketogenic or low-carb diets. They also use natural sweeteners like erythritol and monk fruit, meaning there are zero grams of sugar per serving!”

Rebel is available in flavors like butter pecan, salted caramel, and raspberry sorbet. With its focus on providing a satisfying dessert option while adhering to specific dietary preferences, Rebel Ice Cream stands out as a tasty, guilt-free treat.

Nutrition Facts

Vanilla Flavor: Serving Size : 2/3 cup

  • Calories: 190
  • Total Fat: 19 grams
  • Total Carbs: 13 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Total Sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams

5) Yasso Greek Yogurt Poppables

If you’re looking for a quick and easy frozen dessert, Yasso Greek Yogurt Poppables are another great way to go. Yasso's products contain more protein than traditional ice cream due to their Greek yogurt content,  providing a nutritious option for those seeking a satisfying frozen treat. Each poppable has just 35 calories.

Nutrition Facts

Vanilla Flavor: Serving Size : 1/2 pack (6 poppables)

  • Calories: 210
  • Total Fat: 10.5 grams
  • Total Carbs: 25 grams
  • Fiber: 1 grams
  • Total Sugars: 18.5 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams

3 Delicious, Healthy Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

If you’re someone who prefers to make food at home, there are plenty of recipes out there that put a more creative spin on healthy ice cream. Here are different types of homemade ice cream to consider whipping up—and best of all, you won’t even need an ice cream maker for these!

homemade healthy ice cream

1) Sugar-Free Greek Yogurt Ice Cream

This creamy sugar-free Greek yogurt ice cream is sweetened with natural alternatives like stevia or erythritol, making it a perfect option if you’re watching your sugar intake. You can even shape them into tasty pre-portioned Greek yogurt bars.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Greek Yogurt
  • ⅓ cup allulose
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2) Keto Ice Cream

Made with ingredients like heavy cream and monk fruit sweetener, this low-carb keto ice cream is so delicious and is a great low-sugar option for anyone following a ketogenic diet. Keep in mind that while this particular recipe is low in carbs, it may be higher in saturated fat and calories.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered monk fruit allulose blend
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or unsweetened coconut milk)

3) Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

With just two ingredients—peanut butter and bananas—this dairy-free, vegan ice cream is as simple as it is delicious. It’s a great option for anyone who is lactose-intolerant or who is following a plant-based diet.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium bananas, peeled, halved and frozen
  • ¼ cup natural peanut butter
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut for garnish

Is Frozen Yogurt Better Than Ice Cream?

frozen yogurt vs ice cream
Source: Pexels

While frozen yogurt is often touted as a healthier alternative to regular ice cream, the truth is more nuanced. Frozen yogurt is generally thought of as being lower in fat and calories, but depending on the brand, it can also be higher in sugar. 

Additionally, the nutritional content can vary widely depending on the brand, flavor, toppings, and specific ingredients used. Ultimately, the best choice comes down to personal preference and dietary needs. If you’re curious about how to fit ice cream or frozen yogurt into your diet in a healthy manner, consulting with a nutritionist about your health goals can be a great place to start.

Does Ice Cream Raise Blood Sugar?

For individuals with diabetes or those concerned about blood sugar levels, the type of ice cream you choose can make a significant difference. 

Opting for healthier alternatives that are lower in sugar and higher in protein and fiber can help mitigate blood glucose spikes. Additionally, being mindful of portion sizes and enjoying ice cream as part of a balanced meal can further support stable blood sugar levels.

However, some regular ice cream varieties actually have a lower or medium glycemic index and may not impact your glucose significantly.Take a look at what happened when one of our members tested soft serve ice cream for Dairy Queen on her Nutrisense CGM:

Embed: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CuZvi6noota/ 

As you can see, while this particular ice cream did cause her blood sugar to rise, the spike did not last very long and did not move above the 140 mg/dL threshold. This may be because the fat and protein content of ice cream helped blunt the impact on her blood sugar. 

With a plethora of healthier ice cream options available on the market these days, there's no need to deprive yourself of this beloved treat. Whether you prefer store-bought brands or homemade creations, there's something for everyone looking to indulge in a glucose-friendly dessert

By making informed choices and being mindful of your individual health goals, you can enjoy the creamy goodness of ice cream while still prioritizing your well-being.

Related Article

Read More

Engage with Your Blood Glucose Levels with Nutrisense

Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the Nutrisense CGM program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

Ready to take the first step? Start with our quiz to see how Nutrisense can support your health.

#joinnutrisense
Find the right Nutrisense program    to help you discover and reach your health potential.
Victoria Eaton, RDN, LDN, IFNCP

Reviewed by: Victoria Eaton, RDN, LDN, IFNCP

Victoria began her career in the functional medicine space in 2015. She has extensive experience interpreting labs and supporting weight loss, gut imbalances, and chronic migraines. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition and dietetics from Missouri State University.