Stocking Your Healthful Freezer: Frozen Treats: Ice Cream Bars (Part 4)


Judging by your comments and questions from last week’s posting[1], I’d say that most of us (myself included!) enjoy a cool, sweet treat now and then. Fortunately, there are decent choices to be had out there; it’s a matter of scrutinizing the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredient list and, of course, paying attention to portion sizes.

Have you ever noticed in movies or television shows how, when a woman (and it’s almost always a woman) is upset about something, she heads straight into the kitchen, opens up the freezer, and grabs a pint of a not-so-healthy, super-premium ice cream, grabs a spoon, and digs in? It’s meant to be comical, of course, but it’s a reflection of how many of us define comfort food. Might it be better to keep a box of frozen fruit juice bars or lower-fat Fudgesicles? I suppose these types of frozen novelties just don’t do the trick when life’s hard moments arise! But, I digress; that’s a topic for another day.

Back to frozen novelties. Last week we looked at several ice cream bars, most of them chocolate or chocolate-covered. Again, it’s good to know that food manufacturers are making some that both taste good and that can fit into a person’s eating plan. The issues with most of the chocolate covered bars are the fat and saturated fat content, not to mention the calorie content.

And for those who have jumped on the “saturated fat is good for us” bandwagon, I’d advise a bit of caution. While an analysis of 21 studies showed no clear evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease[2] or stroke[3], there are still unknowns. What IS known is that diets high in saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol[4] levels, which is a risk factor for heart disease. We also don’t know what amount of saturated fat in the diet is “safe,” and if saturated fat affects certain age or ethnic groups more so than others. And other studies have shown that substituting saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat in the diet may lower the risk of heart disease. So, I’d advised putting the Dark Chocolate Dove bars back in the freezer case, at least for now.

Not so keen on chocolate? Some people prefer fruit-based or fruit-flavored frozen treats. But besides sugar-free popsicles (a “free” food, by the way), what else is out there? As it turns out, there’s a pretty good selection.

Edy’s All Natural Fruit Bars. Edy’s has at least 10 flavors of frozen fruit bars. All of them (except for the coconut or cream flavored ones) are fat free and contain less than 100 calories per bar. And they have roughly 20 grams (give or take a few) of carbohydrate per serving, too. With the exception of the Acai Blueberry, Coconut, and Orange & Cream flavors, these bars are free of corn syrup (although it’s always a good idea to check the ingredient list because things change!), which is an extra boon. Other perks: they contain real fruit juice and added vitamin C.

Edy’s No Sugar Added Fruit Bars. If 100 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrate is still a little too much for you, you can go for the No Sugar Added bars. These bars are roughly 30 calories and contain 8 grams of carbohydrate per bar. The potential downside for some is that, depending on the flavor, two nonnutritive sweeteners are used in them: sucralose and acesulfame K. Plus, sorbitol, a sugar alcohol, is used as well. But this shouldn’t be too much of an issue as long as you don’t go overboard and eat half of the box at one sitting (remember the laxative effect of sugar alcohols!).

Whole Fruit Fruit Bars. Another popular brand of frozen fruit bars, these bars weigh in at approximately 70 calories per bar, with no fat and about 17 grams of carbohydrate. The exception is the coconut fruit bar, which has 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 18 grams of carbohydrate — so it’s best to stick with the other flavors. These bars do contain corn sweetener, so if that’s off your list, choose the Edy’s brand.

Breyers Pure Fruit Bars. Not to be outdone by its competitors, Breyers also makes a fruit bar. Smaller than Whole Fruit Bars, one Breyers bar contains 40 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 10 grams of carbohydrate, with some vitamin C thrown in. They’re sweetened with fruit juice and fructose, and certain flavors may contain corn syrup.

Breyers Pure Fruit No Sugar Added Bars. One of these bars contains just 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrate, which pretty much makes this bar a “free” food (meaning that you don’t have to “count” it in your meal plan). These bars are sweetened with fruit juice, sucralose, and acesulfame-K, but no sugar alcohols.

Next week, a wrap-up of frozen novelties!

  1. last week’s posting:
  2. heart disease:
  3. stroke:
  4. cholesterol:

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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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