It’s natural to gravitate towards a frosty ice cream cone in the summer. What better way to indulge in a sweet treat while cooling down from the hot sun? Unfortunately, the empty calories, fat and sugar that are tempting you can also accumulate into a significant health detriment.
Desserts laden with sugar and fat may contribute to the development or worsening of the following progressive health conditions:
- Metabolic syndrome
- High cholesterol
- Fatty liver disease
An occasional ice cream cone is harmless. However, repeated summer trips to the neighborhood ice cream parlor have the potential to instigate a negative cascade of biological events. Consuming lots of sugar and fat can activate inflammatory chemicals, stress the liver, thicken the blood, disrupt healthful metabolism and lead to weight gain. Besides making you feel awful, all of these processes prime the body for a wide range of illnesses.
In order to help keep perspective on summer’s sweet indulgences, consider these five swaps to maintain and support your health until the temperature cools off.
- Swap out ice cream or custard for low-fat frozen yogurt – Low-fat frozen yogurt is available in most flavors and is much lower in saturated fat and sugar than ice cream or custard while also containing digestive-friendly probiotics. Choose a cup instead of a cone to save on the extra calories, sugar, fat and unnecessary gluten.
- Swap sinful toppings for healthier ones (or skip them altogether) – Even if you choose a low-fat, low-sugar ice cream or frozen yogurt, all efforts toward healthfulness are lost when selecting items from a topping bar without restraint. Instead of hot fudge, choose dark chocolate chips; instead of strawberries in syrup, choose fresh strawberries; instead of crushed cookies or candy bars, choose crushed nuts.
- Swap ice cream sandwiches for a frozen fruit bar – Compared to an ice cream sandwich, frozen fruit bars have very little (if any) fat. However, take the extra time to choose a fruit bar that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup, lots of sugar or SplendaÂ®, and that is indeed made with real fruit.
- Swap milkshakes for smoothies – Unless your milkshake is made at home with skim milk, ice and fresh fruit, it is likely to be loaded with sugar and fat. Made from fresh fruit, juice and low-fat yogurt, smoothies are the perfect milkshake substitute – and present an opportunity to include extras like whey powder, vitamin C, flax seed or powdered greens to boost this treat’s healthfulness.
- Swap ice cream bonbons for frozen grapes – There’s no denying the fun involved in popping a sweet, mini, frozen bonbon into your mouth. It makes you feel like you are consuming fewer calories than a large ice cream cone. We all know how that ends – eating more than the allotted bonbon serving size. Instead, freeze some grapes so that when the craving hits, this combo of ice and fruit can help satisfy your sweet tooth.
When it comes to enjoying dessert this summer, there are no hard-and-fast rules; it is unnecessary to completely abstain from frozen treats. Instead, combine your awareness of these healthful swaps with a good dose of common sense when picking a dessert. That way, you can feel good about your selected frozen indulgence and emerge this fall with your health still intact.