Let's face it -- ice cream is one of life's greatest pleasures. However, too much ice cream means high sugar content that can lead to fat accumulation and raise your risk for fatty liver disease, diabetes and heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, the recommended caloric intake of added sugar should not exceed 6 teaspoons (100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men. However, a half-cup of ice cream typically consists of between 2.4 and 5 teaspoons of sugar, and that doesn't even account for dressing it up with sauces and sprinkles.
No shade on ice cream -- we love it, too -- but enjoying it in moderation is key. That's why we recommend these easy swaps this summer for when you have to cut back:
Option 1: Greek yogurt
Greek yogurt is high in protein and probiotics, and according to a 2017 study in The Journal of Nutrition, it can help you avoid type 2 diabetes, too. All you need to make six popsicles is two cups of Greek yogurt, two tablespoons of honey or maple syrup, and up to two cups of mixers like berries, chopped nuts or dark chocolate chips. Simply mix the ingredients, pour them into popsicle molds, and place them in the freezer for at least four hours. Pop them out of the mold when you're ready to enjoy.
Option 2: Frozen grapes
The simplest things in life are the sweetest, so all you need to do is wash your grapes, then pop them in the freezer for a few hours until they are frozen. Grapes contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help support a healthy immune system, protect against heart disease, reduce cholesterol, and boost brain function. Plus, a cup of frozen grapes is only between 60 and 100 calories. What's not to love about that?
Option 3: Chocolate-banana bites
Bananas are a powerhouse of fiber and antioxidants that can improve blood sugar levels, heart health, and digestion and even help you replenish much-needed electrolytes in the summer months. Cut bananas into bite-sized pieces to make these, then melt dark chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Dip the banana pieces into the melted chocolate and place them on a sheet of parchment paper to cool and harden. You also can roll the bananas in chopped nuts or shredded coconut.
Option 4: Watermelon sorbet
Watermelon is 92% water, and we all need to hydrate more in the summer. Its vitamins and antioxidants also can reduce inflammation, boost your immune system and help with weight loss. A 2019 study found that those who incorporated watermelon into their daily diet instead of low-fat cookies experienced a reduced appetite and decreased cravings. Watermelon also resulted in a decrease in body weight, BMI, waist-to-hip ratio and blood pressure. To make watermelon sorbet, remove the seeds and rind from the watermelon and blend until smooth. Add a sweetener of your choice, such as honey or agave, then pour the mixture into a shallow dish and freeze for 3 hours, occasionally stirring, until it reaches sorbet-like consistency.
While you might want to consider cutting back on the sugar in ice cream, you still can treat yourself a little every now and then. And if you're trying to stay cool out there, we hope you give one of these ideas a try.
Are you concerned about your diet or sugar levels? If it's been a while since your checkup, you might want to schedule a visit with your provider. Schedule an appointment today by visiting NW-Physicians.com.
About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital
Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a licensed 73-bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, the largest health system in Northwest Arkansas. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.