At Butter Nutrition, we LOVE ice cream and we think it can be a truly nutritious food if you’re not sensitive to dairy, and if it’s made from clean, high quality ingredients. When sourced with high quality dairy products and if it’s made without additives, it’s loaded with vitamins A, D, calcium, and saturated fat! Ice cream has been said to have a macro-nutrient profile similar to breast milk, so no wonder it’s a comfort food!
Unfortunately, most commercial ice cream brands do not make the cut, when it comes to sourcing and ingredients.
Did your favorite ice cream make the grade?
I ventured out to my local grocery stores to compare ingredient lists. This is what I found:
Grading explained: all ice cream brands started out with a grade of a B. Each offending additive deducted a grade from the overall score, and the use of organic and rBST free milk products increased the grade. Also remember that this is JUST for vanilla ice cream, and likely there will be more additives with more complex flavors.
The most common ingredient offenders:
- Gums– gums and thickeners such as xanthan gum, guar gum, carrageenan are commonly found in things like boxed nut milks, deli meats, baby formulas, milk products, salad dressings, sauces, gluten free products and most ice creams! These additives can irritate the gut (source), cause digestive distress, and carrageenan in particular can also interfere with your liver’s ability to detoxify harmful substances from the body. According to Dr. Ray Peat, “Carrageenan contributes to the disappearance of the liver enzymes (the cytochrome P-450 system) that detoxify drugs, hormones, and a variety of other chemicals.”
- Natural flavors– natural flavors is a blanket term used to mask hundreds if not thousands of chemical additives, including MSG! Usually I don’t like to get too technical, but I find the FDA’s definition of natural flavors comical:
The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” (source)
If that is not very broad, loose definition, I do not know what is!
- Colorings– annatto comes from the seeds of the achiote tree and is sometimes found in ice creams where it is used as a colorant. Annatto has been suspected of causing digestive distress and possibly IBS. (source)
Ice cream doesn’t work for everyone
If you have weak digestion due to a slowed metabolism or nutritional debt, your chances of being lactose intolerant or being sensitive to dairy increases. This doesn’t mean you can’t have ice cream! There are a few non-dairy alternatives that use coconut milk and taste delicious.
Control the ingredients- make your own!
Homemade ice cream will always top my list for the best ice cream options, so don’t forget to try making your own if you can’t find a clean option where you live. Here are two ice cream recipes you might want to give a whirl:
Raw Milk Ice Cream
Ingredients: cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, collagen hydrolysate (optional)
Double Chocolate Ice Cream with Coconut Milk
Ingredients: additive free coconut milk, egg yolks, cacao powder, chocolate chips, organic sugar, collagen hydrolysate (optional, for protein), eggshell calcium (optional, for calcium), vanilla extract, salt
So remember– always check your ingredient lists and be suspicious of anything other than cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks, ground vanilla beans, vanilla extract and salt!
Did your favorite ice cream make the cut? Please share with me in the comments!
CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 by US Food and Drug Administration
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1995 May; 95(5 Pt 1): 933-6. Anaphylaxis to carrageenan: a pseudo-latex allergy. Tarlo, S M Dolovich, J Listgarten, C Retrieved on 28 October 2014 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7751512
Peat, Ray. Milk in context: allergies, ecology, and some myths. 2011. Retrieved on October 28, 2014 from http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/milk.shtml
Stein, Herbert L., MD. Annatto and IBS. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology:November/December 2009 – Volume 43 – Issue 10 – pp 1014-1015. Retrieved on 28 October 2014 from http://journals.lww.com/jcge/Fulltext/2009/11000/Annatto_and_IBS.27.aspx