Summer means time at the pool, time at the beach, and time at the ice cream truck! Yes, that's right: Ice cream. If you thought you had to sacrifice your Ben & Jerry's for your bikini body, think again!
"Ice cream can be a part of a healthy diet," says Angela Ginn, registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The key, she says, is the portion size -- and watching out for the mix-ins and toppings.
For example, have you heard about the new Burger King Bacon Sundae? It packs a whopping 510 calories, 18 grams (10 saturated) of fat and 61 grams of sugar. Definitely not a weekly menu item! According to Ginn, you'd have to jump rope for a solid hour to burn off all those calories.
"When dining out, choose a kiddie cone or order one scoop in a cup," Ginn recommends, adding that a good general rule of thumb is to keep your sweet treat, whether it's ice cream or something else, to under 200 calories and no more than about 5 grams of saturated fat. That rules out most full-fat ice creams (boo!) -- but even those, Ginns says, can be a "once-in-a-while" kind of treat.
"Maybe you tell yourself that on Saturdays, you can order your favorite flavor at the pool, or treat yourself to a Haagen-Dazs bar after dinner," says Ginn. (Food for thought: a full-size Haagen-Dazs vanilla milk chocolate almond bar contains 310 calories and 13 grams of saturated fat, while the "snack size" is 190 calories and has 8 grams of saturated fat.)
Something to definitely avoid, Ginn says, are ice creams containing trans fat, which is bad for your cholesterol levels, heart health and waistline. Ginn also recommends steering clear of artificial ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. "A whole foods, less processed diet is healthiest," she says. "Read the ingredients and look for milk, cream, sugar, salt and whole fruit or whole chips and nuts. Make sure the ingredients could be found in your kitchen pantry." (For example, Haagen-Dazs five ice cream uses only five ingredients: skim milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla.)
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