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EVERYONE likes ice cream. You may prefer the basics or go for the fruity stuff… but everyone likes ice cream. Unfortunately, not everything in the “ice cream” aisle is actually what it says…

According to Mordor Intelligence, the United States Ice Cream Market size is estimated at $19.03 Billion (USD) in 2024 and is expected to reach $21.76 billion by 2029. Each American consumes an average of 20.8 liters of ice cream per year. That’s over 5 gallons per person! To meet this demand, U.S. ice cream makers produce an impressive 870 million gallons annually.

Before we go any further, it bears stating the obvious: NOBODY SHOULD EAT THAT MUCH ICE CREAM!

Napkin math says that’s about 160 servings per year… And when was the last time you saw someone eat 1/2 cup of ice cream? We only ask because that’s the actual serving size for most brands.

Nevertheless, when it comes to ice cream, there’s a clear distinction between real and fake. Real ice cream has simple, whole ingredients like milk, cream, sugar, and natural flavorings.

On the other hand, fake ice cream, often referred to as “frozen dessert” or “frozen dairy dessert” and touted as a “diet” option, is typically made with a variety of artificial ingredients and stabilizers, resulting in a longer list of additives compared to traditional ice cream. These substitutes are necessary in part to try to mimic the taste and texture of real ice cream.

In other words, a “frozen dairy dessert” may seem healthier with a lower calorie count or less fat, but it often contains artificial ingredients like sorbitol and artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and acesulfame K. While the FDA considers these safe, studies suggest likely affect the gut microbiome and metabolism, contradicting the goal of choosing a “diet” option.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration states that a product can only be classified as ice cream if it meets the following criteria:

  • Contains at least 1.6 pounds of total solids to the gallon
  • Weighs no less than 4.5 pounds to the gallon
  • Contains no less than 20 percent total milk solids and no less than 10% milkfat solids, except when it contains milkfat at 1% increments above the 10% minimum.

If an item doesn’t meet these requirements, it cannot be labeled as ice cream. In addition to having different compositions, these frozen products can potentially vary in their nutritional content. If you’re interested in reading up on which brands are trying to fake you out and which are the best options for real ice cream, take a look here and here.

The best “diet” option is to skip it altogether or, at the very least, reduce your portion size. If you want something to satisfy the sweet tooth but with REAL nutritional value, give the smoothie recipes Dante & Tyler put together on Instagram! They’re full of protein, healthy fats, and real sugar from whole fruits.