Is Ice Cream Good for You?

The answer may surprise you.


Study, Wellness
Two friends enjoying ice cream.

(santypan /

There is nothing more refreshing than ice cream on a hot summer’s day. There are so many flavors including chocolate, strawberry, cookie dough, or dozens more to choose from and you can put it in a cone or cup. No matter what you choose, it will be delicious. But is it good for your health?

Most people would automatically say no. Ice cream is full of sugar and saturated fats that could raise your cholesterol and put you at risk for diabetes. Surprisingly,  a recent article in The Atlantic, suggests that the opposite is true and that ice cream is good for your health. But scientists have no idea why.

Harvard research
In 2018, Andres Ardisson Korat, a Harvard doctoral student was presenting his research about the relationship between dairy foods and chronic disease for his thesis and one study he completed showed that diabetics who ate half a cup of ice cream a day had a lower risk of heart problems.

The department chair instructed Ardisson Korat to do some more investigating to see if there was a flaw or hidden bias in the research but there were no issues. The data somehow said that eating ice cream was good for your heart. And that is welcome news for ice cream lovers.

A lot of skeptics
Still, scientists are not convinced that the ice cream was the only factor in why the participants had a lower risk. Especially since the data is from an observational study and not from a clinical trial, reported The Guardian.

“As an academic public health doctor, I’m not going to be rushing out to eat more ice cream based on this research,” Dr John Fort, public health doctor and senior clinical lecturer at Queen Mary University London told The Guardian.

“There are lots of other potential explanations – it may be that people are more likely to have an ice cream to cool down after a walk or some exercise, or it may be that people who tend to choose ice cream as a dessert instead of a high-calorie slab of chocolate cake are also likely to substitute other high-fat foods.”

There is also the potential of inaccuracies of food intake studies which are usually conducted with questionnaires according to Dr Duane Mellor, a senior lecturer and dietitian at Aston Medical School. He said, “The problem ultimately is that we try to link a health effect or benefit to a single food, when in reality we eat a variety of foods, and it is our whole dietary pattern that counts.”

But he acknowledged that ice cream, “may contain some nutrients which could be beneficial,” like calcium and that the frozen treat has a low glycemic index so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar after eating.  

So is ice cream good for your health? Maybe yes and maybe no. But what is true is that it is not as bad for you as commonly perceived. So go ahead, dig in, and enjoy a scoop on a hot summer’s day.

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