Is Ice Cream Healthy For You?

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The popularity of ice cream is undeniable. The smooth and creamy dessert is an American staple, so much so that it is present in 87% of U.S. freezers at any given time. Whether you eat it with a spoon directly out of the carton, share your ice cream with your dog or cat (something one in five of us readily confess), or use it to mark a special occasion, just about all of us enjoy eating ice cream.

That begs the question: Is it healthy for you? Should you feel guilty about eating it? Let’s take a cold, hard look at the facts. No pun intended! Learn how ice cream is made, and the surprising ways it may actually be good for you.

What is in it and how is it made?

Ice cream is made out of cream, milk, butterfat, eggs, sugar, ice, air, additives, and flavor. Each ingredient that goes into it helps create the final product. Believe it or not, the presence of tiny air bubbles helps maintain the creamy texture of that chocolate sundae you enjoy so much. Sugar makes ice cream taste sweet — and delicious! — while also keeping it smooth, pliable, and relatively easy to scoop. Without it, too much ice may form on top of your favorite ice cream.

The ice cream making process is relatively simple. Manufacturers whip all of the above ingredients together, add flavor, fruit puree, and color, and then leave the mixture to settle for at least four hours. Next, the ice cream is frozen and pumped with air. Like sugar, air helps make ice cream creamy and soft, so we can scoop it into bowls and sundae dishes, or on top of an ice cream cone. After, sellers mix in extras like chocolate chips, caramel, chocolate fudge, brownie or cookie dough pieces, nuts, and fruit. At this point, all that’s left to do is to put the ice cream in its desired container or package and blast-freeze it to maintain a temperature of -22 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

There is no doubt that ice cream is delicious but is it healthy for you? While butterfat and cream may not sound like the most health-conscious ingredients, there is some good news. Ice cream packs plenty of health benefits. Here are just a few of them:

Ice cream makes us happy

That pretty much goes without saying for most people, but there is some science behind it, too. Low levels of serotonin, a mood-regulating and boosting hormone, make us depressed. Thankfully, ice cream pumps you full of serotonin, contributing to good mood.

It packs an energy boost

Yes, one of the main ingredients in ice cream is sugar. Sugar or glucose deliver immediate energy benefits. What’s more, “Ice cream is rich in carbohydrate, with about 15 grams in a one-half-cup serving,” SF Gate writes. “A serving also contains about 7 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein, making it an energy-dense food.”

Calcium and minerals strengthen bones

Ice cream contains calcium and minerals, important elements that strengthen our bones. The human body is 60% water, with roughly 206 bones in the average adult human body and as many as 270 bones in infants’ and children’s bodies. All of these bones are made stronger with the right amount of calcium. Children, especially, require calcium to support their growing bones, with kids between the ages of nine and 18 needing 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Luckily, you can keep your family’s bones strong and healthy with ice cream, which contains at least 10% of the calcium you need on a regular basis. Ice cream also contains phosphorous, a mineral that works together with calcium to promote strong, healthy bones.

Ice cream promotes brain activity

Want to perform better on a test or rise up to a particular challenge at work? Eating ice cream may do the trick. According to research from Japan, the vitamins and minerals in ice cream give your brain an extra boost. Eating ice cream also releases the hormone and neurotransmitter dopamine, which in turn makes you happier, more energized, and more alert.

It increases your chances of having a baby

To increase your chances of fertility, high-fat dairy — like ice cream — is best. According to a study by Jorge E. Chavarro, a doctor and researcher at Harvard, having at least one serving of high-fat dairy per day reduced ovulation problems in women by 27%.

Healthier options are available

If all of the health benefits above aren’t quite enough for you, there are health-conscious alternatives to your favorite ice creams out there. Ice cream is also available in low-fat, low-calorie, dairy-free, and sugar-free varieties.

Would you describe ice cream as your weakness? It’s time to stop thinking so poorly of this sweet treat. Enjoyed in moderation, ice cream promises all kinds of health benefits, including a better mood, increased brain activity, more energy, greater fertility, and strong, healthy bones.

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