Saturday, November 21, 2009

Healthy Ice Cream- Isnt That an Oxymoron?

Healthy- I really don’t even know what it means anymore. Sugary cereals are labeled as healthy and popcorn packaged in solid butter from a bag is touted as being “whole grain!” Sure these things contain healthy ingredients, but the outstanding amount of unhealthy ingredients negate any benefits you would get from them.

This brings me to this little nugget: scientists are on a mission to create ‘healthy ice cream’. No, they aren’t making delicious creamy, fat free, sugar free ice cream- researchers are going to add dietary fiber, antioxidants and probiotics, bacteria that aids in healthy digestion, to the calorie and fat- filled dessert. If successful, the healthy ice cream will be considered a “functional food,” one that contains ingredients proven to benefit health above and beyond normal nutrition.

We don’t need nutrients above and beyond normal nutrition- we need help with eating normal healthy nutrients, like vitamins, and minerals, and lean proteins and NON FAT dairy- not ice cream with a sprinkling of digestion helper.

I don’t need help with healthy digestion- my body digests just fine, because I eat a healthy diet including full yogurt with probiotics. Antioxidants are thought to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals which are linked to causing diseases, which is fine, but you know what really helps preventing disease? Not eating a diet high in saturated fat.

“The intent is that instead of feeling guilty because you are eating this ice cream, which has received a bad rap because it is so high-fat, to really say that ‘Yeah I treated myself to a full-fat ice cream, but I did contribute to my nutritional needs in regard to my gut health, my antioxidant needs and my dietary fiber,’” said ice-cream researcher Ingolf Gruen, a professor of food chemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

So basically, its a way to justify eating fattening ice cream. Great, that’s just what America needs. Why do people talk about food guilt like it is a necessary evil? I’m not knocking ice cream. I love ice cream, the real stuff, and I love a good little bowl every now and again for a snack before bed- after I have eaten a good, healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can have this nice indulgence guilt-free because I know I am doing what I need to do to take care of my body, not fooling myself into thinking its okay to eat junk food because there is some fiber in it.

What we really need to work on is helping Americans develop a healthy relationship with food. Food is not something to be feared or cause you guilt. The last thing we need is to further confuse and delude people into buying an unhealthy product by shouting from the rooftops about its health benefits, and mumbling under our breaths the fact that it is full of fat, sugar, calories and will cause you to gain weight if you eat too much of it.

If it tasted the same, and didn’t cost anymore money, I would buy this ‘healthy’ ice cream. Extra nutrients added to something I eat occasionally anyway is never a bad thing. Its those people who can’t or won’t control how much ice cream they eat, and will now think that it’s ok, instead of trying to get a handle on it that I’m worried about, which is about 90% of my personal training clients. The product is supposed to be launched in the next two years.


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