Depending on what type you choose and how much you eat, ice cream doesn’t always deserve the unhealthy reputation it gets. If you pick a low-fat, low-calorie dessert, the only way you can make it truly unhealthy for yourself is by piling on the unhealthy toppings. Still, sometimes eating ice cream on its own can be a little plain. Look for a topping that will accentuate the flavor of the dessert without piling on the excess calories–and will provide you with some added health benefits to boot.
Fruit and yogurt is a common dessert or snack, but fruit and ice cream go just as well together. There’s no need to choose the candied fruit with syrup, either. Add fresh berries, cherries or even slices of apples, pears, peaches and the like. You’ll be getting vitamins, antioxidants and minerals from the fruit and also get a sweet, craving-satisfying taste. Fruit may also help keep your hunger under control by making you feel full (with next to no bloat-causing sodium) after consuming fewer calories.
Nuts are high in protein and nutrients that are healthy for your heart. Some studies suggest that regular nut consumption could lower your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. While nuts are somewhat high in fat for their size, you won’t be eating enough to cause you to gain weight. Plus, the fat is mostly unsaturated and may be part of the reason why nuts lower cholesterol. Opt for no-salt-added nuts to avoid any negative side effects of too much sodium consumption.
Another healthy treat often paired with yogurt but less often thought of as an ice cream topping is granola. Granola is usually made from a number of oats, and this high-fiber food is beneficial for your digestive system. Granola will also help fill you up faster, making you less likely to overeat. However, there are many unhealthy blends of granola, so make sure that you find a whole grain, no-sugar-added variety.
4. Peanut Butter
Another food with health benefits that can help you feel fuller faster is peanut butter, although you should look for all-natural, raw no-sugar-added types. (They usually appear like they’ve separated from oil, but you need to just mix it together briefly before using them.) Taking a tablespoon of peanut butter and mixing it into your ice cream can complete change the flavor of plain ice creams like vanilla and compliment many other types of ice creams, such as chocolate. You’ll also be getting protein, fiber and miconutrients.
Cinnamon can add the sweet flavor you crave to your ice cream without any of the high-calorie side effects of sugar. Not only is it a tasty addition, but if you eat only one half of a teaspoon each day, you may be able to lower your cholesterol, regulate your blood sugar, lower your risk of developing blood clots and even lower your risk of certain types of cancers. You’ll also be getting a small dose of calcium, iron, fiber and manganese.