Stocking Your Healthful Freezer: Frozen Treats: Ice Cream Bars (Part 3)

Continuing with our look at frozen[1] treats[2], we’ll turn to the category of “frozen novelties.”


I always thought the term “frozen novelty” (meaning frozen treats that come on a stick, as a bar, or in a cone or sandwich) was a little strange, but I suppose the name fits. According to the dictionary, a novelty is a “state or quality of being novel, new, or unique.” When it comes to ice cream treats, this definition actually works. According to a study from Mintel International Group, a market analysis company, frozen novelty growth is expected to surge in the ice cream market. Sales of these treats grew 7.2% from 2002 to 2007, more so than ice cream. Sadly, while the number of ice cream trucks and ice cream parlors are dropping, sales of frozen treats are booming, primarily in supermarket and convenience stores.

So why frozen novelties? Wouldn’t people rather sit down and enjoy a bowl of ice cream? While ice cream and frozen yogurt remain popular, consumers want convenience, variety, and new flavors. I guess we’re just not satisfied with the same old cherry or grape flavored popsicles.

As with ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sherbet, frozen novelties require the discretion of a careful consumer. That’s probably not surprising, given that Häagen-Dazs, Dove, and Klondike treats certainly pack a calorie and fat wallop. Let’s take a look at what’s out there.

Ice cream bars. Marketing companies are right. It’s much easier — and quicker — to eat your ice cream on a stick or in an ice cream sandwich. It saves the effort of having to go to the freezer, dig out a spoon and bowl, and scoop out a portion (or two). But some ice cream bars are no nutritional bargain. Here’s a glance at a few of the more decadent bars:

These treats may taste delicious but they are definitely not part of a healthful eating plan, thanks to ingredients such as cream, coconut and palm oil, and corn syrup. Save these for a really rare treat. Your arteries and waistline will thank you.

Luckily, there’s a way to have your ice cream bar and eat it too, meaning that there are some better choices out there, including the following:

Don’t do dairy? No problem. Tofutti has dairy-free Totally Fudge Premium Pops that weigh in at just 95 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, and 19 grams of carbohydrate.

What about some of the other ice cream bars that seem to be healthier? For example, Breyers makes Smooth & Dreamy bars. Are they a good choice? Let’s look at one.

The calories and carbohydrate are in line, but the saturated fat content is a little high (recall that a low-saturated-fat food has no more than 1 gram per serving). So, while it’s not a total wash, there are better choices, as I mentioned, above.

Speaking of Breyers, they’ve started a line of frozen treats called “CarbSmart”, sweetened with Splenda and acesulfame-K. The CarbSmart Fudge Bar contains 100 calories and just 9 grams of carbohydrate. Sounds like a carb-counter’s dream. But the fat content is somewhat concerning: 7 grams of fat and 4.5 grams of saturated fat. Not exactly a heart-healthy bargain.

Just so that you don’t think I’m picking on Breyers, I’ll highlight Klondike’s No Sugar Added Vanilla bar: 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, and 21 grams of carbohydrate, along with aspartame and maltitol, a sugar alcohol. It’s like they didn’t even try with this one.

Your head can spin when you’re standing in front of the freezer case (and we haven’t covered everything yet). Remember that it’s OK to splurge once in a while. Just make sure your “once in a whiles” don’t start occurring “once a day.” If you must indulge in a cool, creamy treat on a daily basis, go for some of the lower-calorie and lower-fat options that I mentioned above. Aim to keep the saturated fat to no more than 2 grams per serving, too.

More next week!

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Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin. Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

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