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Cut back on ice cream to melt away pounds
August 26, 04
Suzanne Havala Hobbs

When it comes to ice cream, it seems the bowl is never big enough. Another observation I’ve made over the years: A big bowl of ice cream is one of the most popular nighttime snacks across America – usually in front of the TV.

But when ice cream becomes a daily treat, the calories – and saturated fat – can easily undermine your ability to control your weight as well as your cholesterol level.

So what’s an ice cream lover to do?

You’ve got options.

First, take a good look at the nutrition label on your favorite brand. Check the number of calories and grams of saturated fat per half cup serving.

Regular ice cream such as Breyers and Edy’s Grand can have 140-170 calories and five grams of saturated fat per serving. That’s a fair amount of calories and a substantial amount of saturated fat. Move up to more expensive, premium brands such as Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs, and you’re talking over 300 calories and 12 grams of saturated fat for some flavors.

And that’s just for a half-cup serving. Do you know anybody who eats a half-cup? Double those figures – and that’s just the first bowl.

Your diet can’t afford that on a regular basis.

If you eat ice cream even once a week, you should choose a brand with the least amount of calories and saturated fat per serving. There are many choices that hover around 100 calories per serving and 2 grams of saturated fat or less per half cup serving. Two examples: Healthy Choice vanilla ice cream has 110 calories and one gram of saturated fat per serving, and Breyers 98% Fat-Free vanilla has only 90 calories and one gram of saturated fat.

Better yet, experiment with alternatives to ice cream that are similar in calorie content to reduced-fat varieties but contain little or no saturated fat. Good examples: sorbet, sherbet, frozen yogurt, and Italian ice. Read and compare nutrition labels. Rice- and soy-based frozen desserts sold at natural foods stores are another option, though they can be pricey.

Whatever you choose, bear these cautions in mind:

* Watch the portion size. A one-cup scoop of ice cream can look deceptively small in a big cereal bowl. Be aware of how much you are eating. It’s easy to eat too much. That can mean hundreds of calories and a substantial amount of added weight over a year.

* Toppings add calories. Hot fudge, caramel sauce, candy bits – they can add substantially more calories and saturated fat.

* Frequency matters. Ice cream is a daily snack for many people. Do nothing more than switch to once a week and watch the pounds melt away.

* Premium brands deliver the most calories and fat. Just compare the nutrition labels and see for yourself.

Keep these tips in mind as well:

* You’re better off going out for an occasional cone rather than bringing a half-gallon home. You’ll eat less that way.

* If you keep a frozen dessert in the house, make it sorbet, frozen fruit, Italian ice, sherbet or fat-free frozen yogurt instead of ice cream. Aim for the product with the least amount of saturated fat. Shop around for brands you especially like. Green’s nonfat frozen yogurt, for example, has a creamy texture similar to ice cream but with zero saturated fat and only 110 calories per half cup.

* Eat from a custard cup or small mug rather than a cereal bowl. If you need a topping, use fruit or sprinkles instead of fudge and other rich sauces.

* If you eat ice cream, choose one night and make it a weekly tradition instead of a nightly event.

The contents of this website are not intended to provide personal medical advice.Individual medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional.
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