The Best Healthy Ice Creams: Here’s The “Scoop”


As you no doubt know by now, I’m a sucker for ice cream, or any other cold, frozen beverage remotely resembling ice cream, which is probably why even my morning superfood smoothie is essentially a giant acai-bowl-like ice cream slurry, albeit significantly lower calorie than the average bowl of ice cream, since I use tons of ice and a base such as bone broth. But, in fact, I’ve been whipping up homemade ice cream in my Vitamix blender, Nutribullet, and occasionally—when I’m not being lazy—even an ice cream maker for years, and I often toss in just about every healthy or interesting ingredient I can find for a kitchen-sink-like approach. This method, more often than not (although there have been some “nots”) turns out pretty dang delicious, allows for me to discover some pretty darn cool ice cream-esque recipes, and when messed up, is typically quite easily fixed with ample amounts of sea salt and stevia, a crappy ice cream chef’s best friend.

We all seem to like ice cream, don’t we?

It’s no wonder—young mammals are hardwired to crave the highly palatable combination of fat and sugar present in breast milk. Fast forward past the growing years, and that food that served an adaptive purpose is now just getting us fat. The highly palatable breast milk-like food that helps small mammals grow into larger mammals, helps larger mammals grow, well, more fat. And ice cream can be a perfect example of that, at least the average dairy, high-fat, high-sugar pints you’ll find at most grocery stores.

This drive behind the consumption of foods that are no longer beneficial for growth and nutrition has been well-studied. Brain science shows that the neural circuits responsible for feelings of reward are highly activated with the consumption of high-fat and high-sugar foods. Salt is also a factor; and while you know I don’t condone salt restriction, when salt is paired with fat or sugar, it can result in a highly appetizing (and highly addictive) food (as a matter of fact high-fat savory foods like, say greasy potato chips, are even more addictive than high-fat sugary foods like ice cream). If you consider the most addictive foods—which of course includes ice cream—sugar, fat, and salt abound. In his book The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat, neuroscientist Stephan Guyenet takes an in-depth look at instinctual brain circuitry, concluding that what we eat often has no relation to knowledge about food or willpower. In light of what know about those crave-worthy foods and the brain, biologically, most diets are designed to fail.

So up until just a few years ago, there was no such thing as “healthy” ice cream in the grocery store; just pints and tubs of frozen, hedonistic goodness, consisting of mucus-inducing cow’s milk and blood-glucose wrecking sugar.

And while I’ve always loved ending a delicious dinner with a spoonful all the way up to a whopping bowl of ice cream, I used to inevitably pay for it later in the form of wrecked digestion, gas, and bloating from the dairy and sugar combination. When it comes to the dairy in particular, the A1 type of casein, a tasteless white solid that’s the main protein in milk, is well-known to be associated with gastrointestinal problems. In contrast, as I discuss in my recent podcast with farmer Jordan Rubin, the A2 type of casein less commonly found in dairy sources in the US, is far less problematic and inflammatory, but rarely found in most ice creams, unless you’re buying your own A2 milk and making ice cream from it.” Thus, a couple years ago, I started upon a quest to perfect homemade ice cream so that I could “have my bowl and eat it, too”—and have since then shared a number of homemade healthy ice cream recipes.

However, as I’ve occasionally perused the aisles of joints such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Erehwon, and other grocery stores, I’ve noticed more and more “healthy ice creams” popping up these days: sugar-free, low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein, dairy-free, and even 100% plant-based varietals.

The truth is, like the grain industry and the gluten-free bread that you can now find just about everywhere, the ice cream industry is stepping up their game and creating healthier options for those that are lactose intolerant, Keto, Vegan, Paleo, or others that simply want to enjoy an occasional bowl of ice cream and not curse their decision a few hours later. So the fact is, there’s actually now some pretty decent store-bought ice cream options out there.

In this article, I’m going to break down for you what to look for in healthy ice cream, listing the “cream of the crop” (heh) when it comes to the healthiest ice creams out there, and how to choose the best one for your dietary or health needs. Plus, I’ll even be giving you two of my favorite DIY homemade ice cream recipes from my new Boundless Cookbook, (including one that may potentially rival Viagra in its ability to boost your sex life).

Ready? Then grab a big spoon, an even bigger bowl, and get ready for the ultimate “scoop” (couldn’t resist) on healthy ice cream.

By the way, after putting together the entire list below for you, at the last minute I experienced a head-slapping “how-can-I-have-forgotten-about-that-one” moment in which I remembered my friend Andy Hneale’s “Guardian Angel” brand ice cream that Jordan Rubin and I discussed in this podcast. That one, a dairy-free, allulose-sweetened, keto, collagen/Vitamin C, MCT, and probiotic-infused ice cream with addictively good flavors like salted caramel and pumpkin cinnamon ain’t a bad option either (admittedly, they are just now getting started and I don’t think they plan to start much shipping until a few months, but you can at least bookmark ’em!).


What to Look for in a Healthy Ice Cream Part 1: Macronutrients

With the creation of new Keto and high-protein ice creams, it’s now possible to choose an ice cream that “fits your macros.” While I’m not a personal proponent of the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) campaign—since it tends to advocate for eating whatever the heck you want as long as your protein/carb/fat numbers are met—I do understand that some people like to use counting macros as a health tool.

I won’t give exact protein, carbohydrate, and fat levels to look for in an ice cream here, as, based on genetics, health history, exercise, and the concept of biochemical individuality, everyone is individual in their needs, but here are a few pointers for different macro “categories” such as low carb, high protein, and low fat:

Low Carb

Keto ice cream lovers now have more choices than ever. Traditional ice cream is generally high in carbs, mostly from sugar, and contains around 20g carbs per ½ cup serving. Nowadays you can find ice cream that has less than 5g net carbs per pint! Remember how the sugar/fat composition of breast milk triggers craving? Eliminating the sugar part of the equation may serve as a means to prevent scooping that second (or third, or fourth) bowl.

Just make sure to read the labels on keto-friendly ice creams, as many will add undigestible fiber (such as inulin or tapioca fiber) to decrease net carbs. They’ll also throw in zero-sugar artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols, which can cause uncomfortable gas, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea (more on this below).

In other words, you may want to avoid pounding a whole pint of Keto ice cream in one sitting… or the toilet is exactly where you’ll be sitting afterward.

High Protein

Regular ice cream uses cream as its base (hence the name), while “high-protein” brands are usually made with skim milk along with whey or milk protein concentrate to increase protein content. However, they usually only contain around 6g protein per serving; but to be fair, that’s double traditional ice cream’s protein content (2-3g).

It should be noted that like low-carb ice cream, it’s important to read labels on high-protein brands to make sure there aren’t any nefarious ingredients added to replace the creaminess factor (such as gums or carrageenans). Additionally, if you’re lactose-intolerant or avoid dairy, it may be tougher to find a high-protein ice cream since many are dairy-based. The alternative, plant-based protein—like the pea protein in So Delicious—may be a gentler choice if your system is sensitive to animal proteins and may lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, but have a reduced essential amino acid content.

Low Fat

Traditional ice cream contains anywhere from 7-13g of fat per serving. Today, you can find quite a few ice creams lower than 5g of fat per ½ cup—and there are even brands with literally ZERO fat.

While some lower-fat ice creams are made with ingredients that could be considered “healthy,” I’m certainly not one to demonize fat and tend to eat a higher fat diet myself.  Low-fat milk had its heyday for a while until a closer look brought into question whether it really was a healthier choice. Not to sound like a broken record, but it’s important to ask “Hey, what are they replacing that fat with to make this taste so good?” Most often, the fat that is removed from the milk is replaced with sugar, which we already know is a wrecking ball to a nutritious diet. Additionally, a lower-fat dairy product is less likely to satisfy you (due to the satiety properties of fat), making it more likely that you’ll consume a higher calorie and sugar load.


What to Look for in a Healthy Ice Cream Part 2: Sugar & Sweeteners

It’s no secret that regular ice cream is loaded with sugar, with anywhere from 12-24g of added sugar in ½ cup. So once you’ve had a few scoops (because if you’re anything like me, you’re not just going to eat a measly single serving), you may as well have just chugged an entire soda…with some heavy cream added in.

Today you can find dozens of low-sugar and even zero-sugar ice creams… but like those that are labeled “low fat” or “high protein,” it’s important to consider what they’re replacing that sugar with to make it taste better than just a tub of ice.

Usually, sugar is replaced with ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes, which can often be worse for you than actual sugar.

I covered this topic in-depth on a Q&A Podcast: How To Get Carbs On A Carnivore Diet, The 4 Laws Of Muscle, How To Recover Faster, Which Artificial Sweeteners Are OK To Consume & Much More, but here are some general guidelines.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of sweeteners, but includes the most commonly used in “healthy” ice creams:

Avoid:

  • Artificial sweeteners: Saccharine, Aspartame, Sucralose, Neotame, Acesulfame-K
  • Corn syrup

Consume in moderation:

  • Organic cane sugar
  • Tapioca syrup
  • Agave syrup
  • Sugar alcohols: Erythritol, Xylitol, Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol*

*Avoid/limit if these cause you digestive upset (gas, bloating, etc.)

Healthiest choices:

  • Stevia
  • Dates
  • Allulose
  • Monk fruit extract
  • Natural fruits (e.g. banana, strawberries)

In summary, I would probably choose ice cream with a few grams of natural sugar over one that contains zero sugar, but instead loads of artificial sweeteners or bloat-inducing sugar alcohols.


What to Look for in a Healthy Ice Cream Part 3: Additives (Or Their Absence!)

Ice cream has a long history that may date back as early as the 6th century, and while the production process was laborious early on (think hand-cranked churn), the components have remained largely unchanged. Traditional ice cream—while rich in dairy and high in sugar, fat, and calories—contains a very simple list of real food ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks.

However, in order to create “healthier” ice creams that tailor to specific diets or health needs, many of these basic ingredients get swapped out for alternatives, some of which may be benign, while others are anything but healthy.


Vegetable Oils

Sadly, a good chunk of vegan or dairy-free ice cream companies add vegetable oils as an emulsifier (to make up for low-fat content), including soybean, canola, and cottonseed. I won’t get into why you want to avoid these oils like the plague, but I’ve kicked that horse to death multiple times in the past. My podcast 4 Ways To Eat Yourself Beautiful: Meat On The Bone, Fermented & Sprouted Foods, Organ Meats, Deep Nutrition & More with Dr. Cate Shanahan explains the bulk of it, as does her book, which I think is one of the better treatises on why you should ruthlessly eliminate vegetable oils.

“Natural Flavors”

This one is pretty ubiquitous. A large majority of natural or healthy ice creams add “natural flavors” to enhance taste and flavor without adding calories. But hey, they’re natural, right?

Not always…”natural flavor” is a blanket term for any plant- or animal-based ingredient that a company wants to keep proprietary. However, the FDA hasn’t officially defined the term and doesn’t regulate it, so it’s a bit of a crapshoot on whether or not you’re actually consuming something natural or a synthetic chemical. Sometimes the only way to know is to actually contact the manufacturer.

In general, while most “natural flavors” won’t kill you in moderate amounts, I’d look for ice cream brands that use legitimately natural flavoring ingredients (like cinnamon, cacao, peppermint, etc.), and also list them all on the label.

Gums, Stabilizers, and Thickeners

Look at most healthy or dairy-free ice creams, and you’ll notice the presence of gums such as xanthan gum, guar gum, locust bean gum, acacia gum, or carob bean gum. These are added to prevent the formation of ice crystals, which is key to a rich, creamy, smooth ice cream. While these gums are generally thought to be safe, they are in essence soluble fibers that the body can’t break down, so for some people, such as folks with Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) or leaky gut problems, they can cause digestive upset.

Another very common stabilizer is carrageenan, which is an extract of red edible seaweed. It’s commonly used in ice cream due to its gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties. However, it should be avoided as some animal studies link it to inflammation, diabetes, and even cancer.


What to Look for in a Healthy Ice Cream Part 4: Quality & Dietary Considerations

There are a few other markers of quality, as well as dietary preferences, you might want to consider when selecting the healthiest ice cream for you. Here are some terms you’ll want to look out for on ice cream labels:

  • Organic (especially important for dairy-based ice creams)
  • Non-GMO
  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Vegan or Plant-based

What to Look for in a Healthy Ice Cream Part 5: Taste & Texture

Even if an ice cream passes the test with macronutrients, sweeteners, and additives, along with quality and dietary considerations, you probably won’t want to eat it unless it tastes good, right?

Fact is, both the ingredients and processing methods will affect the taste, and of course, what even tastes good depends on individual preference. Your kid may want the sweetest ice cream out there while you may prefer a less cavity-inducing taste. Healthy ice creams also tend to be somewhat more limited in flavors—for obvious reasons, you won’t find Reese’s, Heath, or Thin Mint on this list (hit up Breyer’s for those)—but there are way more flavor options now than there were even a year or two ago.

The other big factor when it comes to which healthy ice cream you scoop up over and over is texture. The texture of ice creams can vary quite a bit even amongst traditional brands, and even more so with the healthier brands given the different compositions of the ice creams. Most people want a creamier texture—regardless of whether or not there is any actual dairy in the ice cream—which is the result of higher fat content. And back to candy-filled ice creams above…it is less common to find healthy ice creams with pieces of anything in them because those “anythings” would likely sabotage the health factor. Texture has been shown to have a significant impact on ice cream sales, so getting it right is a high priority for manufacturers.

Finally, there can be quite a variation in the time it takes for different ice creams to thaw. If you’re a planner and can remember to take the ice cream out of the freezer, oh, 15 minutes or so before you want to eat it, then thaw time may not matter. But I’m willing to bet that when most of you want to eat ice cream you’d prefer to eat it right then and there (and if you have kids, no way do they want to wait!). An avocado base vs. a banana base vs. a coconut milk base vs. a dairy base, etc. are all going to have different ideal thaw times, different mouth feel, and different texture, and typically the “lower fat” the ice cream is, the more difficult it is to achieve the smooth, creamy texture one typically looks for in ice cream, and the longer it takes to thaw.

Alright, enough theory! Let’s dig in (pun intended) to some of the best, legitimately healthy ice cream brands.


The 10 Best Healthy Ice Cream Brands of 2021

After searching natural grocery store shelves, and even the new online ice cream world (yes, you can actually buy ice cream online, who knew?), I’ve discovered what I believe to be the top 10 healthy ice cream brands you can find right now.

I thought about ranking this list in terms of “ideal ice cream” from 1-10, but there are so many different considerations when it comes to choosing your favorite healthy ice cream that I didn’t want to decide for you. I believe all of these are much better choices than most standard storebought brands and should serve as a handy list for your next trip to the grocery store or online splurge.

P.S.: “Ice cream” is a bit of a misnomer for some brands on this list, as they in fact don’t contain cream at all. A more accurate phrase is “frozen desserts”—but that’s just not as fun, is it?

1. So Delicious Dairy Free – Mint Chip Coconutmilk

I have to admit, So Delicious Dairy Free Coconutmilk has nailed it in terms of taste and creaminess when compared to regular ice cream. That’s probably why it’s also the highest on the list in terms of calories and sugar content, with a whopping 710 calories and 63g of sugar per pint. While the ingredients are decently clean, it’s definitely a sugar-bomb, and for that reason, I wouldn’t say this isn’t a good pick for everyday scooping. However, it may be worth the splurge if you’re looking for a decadent dessert.

Ingredients: Organic Coconut Milk (Filtered Water, Organic Coconut), Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Coconut Oil, Chocolate Chips (Cane Sugar, Organic Coconut Oil, Cocoa, Chocolate Liquor, Natural Vanilla Flavor), Organic Tapioca Syrup, Pea Protein, Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Natural Mint Flavor.

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Vegan
  • Organic ingredients

Cons:

  • High in sugar
  • Contains “natural flavors”
  • Contains gums

Other Notable Flavors: 

So Delicious also has almond and cashew milk dairy-free ice creams. While these others seem to contain less desirable ingredients, they do taste freaking amazing, like Snickerdoodle Cashewmilk, Chocolate Cookies ‘n’ Cream Cashewmilk, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Coconutmilk.

2. Oatly – Strawberry

Oat milk is about as hot as avocado toast these days. Oatly is one of the most common oat milk brands, and now they’ve branched out into ice cream. Their Strawberry flavor is pretty delicious and while there are a few questionable ingredients such as rapeseed oil, according to their chuckle-inducing website, Oatly has “no synthetic flavors dressed up as strawberries or cream or pirates or whatever.” However, it’s also right up there with So Delicious in terms of high sugar and calorie content, so maybe stick to the actual serving size with this one.

So what’s the oat part all about, anyway? Oatly says they use locally sourced oats, which may sound good, but what that really means for a product that is sold nationwide is something of a head-scratcher. To make oat milk, the oats are first mixed with water to be milled. Then, enzymes are added to break the oats down and the bran is separated from the oat base. All Oatly products are gluten-free, but not all oat products are so it’s important to check for gluten-free certification if you have a gluten allergy or intolerance.

Ingredients: Oatmilk (Water, Oats), Strawberry, Sugar, Coconut Oil, Dextrose, Dried Glucose Syrup, Low Erucic Acid Rapeseed Oil. Contains 2% or less of: Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids, Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sea Salt.

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Vegan

Cons:

  • High in sugar
  • Contains gums
  • Contains vegetable oils
  • Some people don’t digest oats well

Other Notable Flavors:

Oatly has several flavors with similar ingredients and macronutrient profiles, of which Coffee, Chocolate Chip, and Fudge Brownie all deserve a try.

3. Halo Top Dairy-Free – Peanut Butter Cup

I distinctly remember finding out about Dairy-Free Halo Top several years ago. In fact, it was the first ice cream I’d bought from the grocery store in over a decade, and I was mind-blown by the relatively clean ingredients, high protein, and low-calorie content. Furthermore, the fact that it was dairy-free was a big plus as I had plenty of concerns with milk quality at that time. Needless to say, I fell in love. My wife and I destroyed a pint while lying in bed watching a dodgeball competition on TV in a Florida hotel TV (not joking). My obsession didn’t last too long though, as I found that the combination of erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and inulin (a plant-derived fiber) was a one-two punch that resulted in gas and bloating. I’m not alone there; both erythritol and inulin can cause gastrointestinal distress for certain people, so if that’s you, you’ll want to steer clear of Halo Top.

Ingredients: Coconut Milk (Water, Coconut Cream), Inulin, Sugar, Erythritol, Fava Bean Protein Concentrate, Peanuts, Vegetable Glycerine, Contains 1% or Less of Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Pea Protein Isolate, Peanut Oil, Salt, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Stevia Leaf Extract (Reb M), Caramel Color.

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

  • High protein
  • Low calorie
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free

Cons:

  • Contains sugar alcohols
  • Contains gums
  • Contains undigestible fiber
  • Contains “natural flavors”

Other Notable Flavors: 

Halo Top has dozens of other dairy-free flavors to choose from, all with pretty similar macronutrients, though you’ll want to read ingredients as they can vary widely.

4. Rebel – Mint Chip

Rebel Ice Cream is the latest option for hardcore Keto dieters, and it claims to be “the lowest net carb ice cream on the market.” Mint Chip is their most highly-rated flavor and touts less than 4g net carbs per pint. It’s the perfect creamy consistency with a good dose of chocolate shavings. There’s no sugar added to Rebel, but this is another one that contains erythritol, so (like Halo Top) won’t be the right pick if you’re sensitive to gas and bloating from sugar alcohols.

Ingredients: Cream, Water, Chocolate Flakes (Coconut Oil, Cocoa, Erythritol, Sunflower Lecithin, Salt, Dutched Cocoa, Vanilla Extract, Monk Fruit), Vegetable Glycerin, Egg Yolks, Chicory Root Fiber, Milk Protein Isolate, Natural Mint Flavor, Peruvian Carob Gum, Guar Gum, Salt, Monk Fruit.

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

Cons:

  • Contains dairy
  • Contains sugar alcohols
  • Contains gums
  • Contains “natural flavors”
  • Contains undigestible fiber

Other Notable Flavors: Triple Chocolate, Butter Pecan, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Cookie Dough are other highly-rated Rebel flavors. You can order an 8-pack of assorted pints right on Amazon if you want to decide on your own favorite.

5. Ripple – Cinnamon Churro

When Ripple debuted their plant-based milk products, pea protein was all of a sudden a trend. Peas are easily digestible (I actually use a super high quality, easily digestible pea protein in the Kion Clean Energy Bar, which incidentally, tastes amazing broken into chunks and sprinkled on just about any ice cream) and the use of pea protein keeps Ripple products nut-, glucose-, soy-, and lactose-free. I do think that Ripple’s Cinnamon Churro is one of the most interesting flavors on this list. If you’re a fan of ice creams with “chunks” (for lack of a better word), you’ll appreciate the pieces of churro cookie throughout this cinnamon-flavored frozen dessert. As cookies generally do, though, the churro pieces contain wheat flour, so you’ll want to avoid this flavor if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity. You’ll also want to avoid Ripple if you’re watching your calorie intake it has the most of any on this list.

Ingredients: Water, Cane Sugar, Coconut Oil, Tapioca Syrup Solids, Churro Pieces [Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Coconut Oil, Cane Sugar, Brown Sugar, Sodium Bicarbonate, Cinnamon, Natural Flavors, Salt], Pea Protein, Chicory Root Fiber, Cinnamon, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Dipotassium Phosphate, Natural Flavors, Acacia Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Guar Gum.

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

Cons:

  • High carb
  • Contains wheat
  • Contains “natural flavors”
  • Contains gums

Other Notable Flavors:

Ripple has five flavors; Vanilla, Chocolate, Mint Chip, and Cookies and Creme, along with Cinnamon Churro. The Vanilla, Chocolate, and Mint Chip are gluten-free.

6. Cado – Deep Dark Chocolate

Cado is the ice cream for guacamole lovers across the world (Cado… avocado… get it?). While the ice cream doesn’t really taste like avocado, the avocado itself lends a creamy texture that many non-dairy ice creams lack, so it doesn’t require as many stabilizing or emulsifying additives and therefore has a pretty clean list of ingredients, most of which are also organic (in fact, they even point out which ones aren’t!). However, it’s pretty high in calories, carbs, and sugar.

Ingredients: Organic Avocado Puree (Water, Organic Avocado), Non-Organic Avocado Oil, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Cocoa Powder, Organic Vanilla Extract, Sea Salt, Organic Guar Gum, Organic Gum Acacia.

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Vegan
  • Mostly organic ingredients

Cons:

  • High in sugar
  • Contains gums

Other Notable Flavors: 

Among its 8 other flavors, the ingredients lists and macros are pretty similar, and Vanilla Bean and Mint Chocolate are definitely worth a taste.

7. Dairy-Free Enlightened – Triple Shot Espresso

Enlightened has several other ice cream lines, including keto and light ice cream, but as I’ve mentioned, I stick with dairy-free. If you’re also avoiding dairy—or even if you’re not—and you love coffee, Enlightened’s Triple Shot Espresso is worth a shot (heh). The coffee-flavored ice cream contains espresso chips and is also laced with ribbons of espresso. Enlightened uses broad beans as their protein base. Legumes such as broad beans offer nutritional benefits such as being low in fat and high in vitamins and antioxidants, but they also contain “antinutrients” which can negatively impact the digestion of nutrients and cause digestive upset in some folks.

Ingredients: Almond Milk (Almonds, Water), Tapioca Syrup, Non-GMO Soluble Corn Fiber, Broad Bean Protein, Erythritol, Cane Sugar, Coffee, Coconut Oil, Dutched Cocoa, Salt, Tara Gum, Guar Gum, Monk Fruit Extract, Corn Starch, Vegetable Glycerin, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, Caramel Color, Disodium Phosphate, Sunflower Lecithin, Citric Acid.

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

  • Low calorie
  • Low carb
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Vegan

Cons:

  • Contains gums
  • Contains sugar alcohols
  • Contains vegetable oil
  • Contains undigestible fiber
  • Not good if you’re avoiding beans/legumes/nuts

Other Notable Flavors: 

Enlightened has an impressive selection of dairy-free flavors, including Monkey Business (banana with chocolate and peanut butter swirls), Chocolate Almond Macaron (almond macaron batter with a chocolate ganache swirl), and Ooey Gooey Cinnamon Bun (cinnamon bun ice cream with a cinnamon sugar glaze).

8. NadaMoo! – Pistachio Nut

NadaMoo! if you can’t guess by the name, is a dairy-free, certified vegan ice cream that uses organic coconut milk as its base, which makes for an incredibly creamy, decadent dessert. It’s slightly high in calories and sugar (and they do often use agave syrup), but hey, that’s probably what makes it so delicious, right? Pistachio Nut is one of their cleanest flavors, but when branching out you’ll definitely want to read labels, as the ingredients vary widely and may include things like canola oil, soy, and maltodextrin.

Ingredients: Organic Coconut Milk, Water, Organic Agave Syrup, Organic Inulin, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Pistachios, Natural Flavor, Organic Guar Gum, Sea Salt, Organic Locust Bean Gum, Organic Spirulina Powder (color).

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Vegan
  • Organic ingredients

Cons:

  • Contains “natural flavors”
  • Contains undigestible fibers
  • Contains gums

Other Notable Flavors: 

NadaMoo! flavors that also take the cake (heh) include Birthday Cake, Rockiest Road, and S’Mores. They also have a new sugar-free flavor line as well.

9. Arctic Zero – Cookie Shake

Arctic Zero prides itself on providing non-dairy ice creams with less than 160 calories per pint. Their base is from faba bean protein (a.k.a. fava bean), which is another kind of legume that—like broad beans—contains antinutrients. Fava beans do also offer nutritional benefits though, including amino acids and nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, and potassium. The sweetness is Arctic Zero comes from allulose, or psicose, a naturally derived low-calorie monosaccharide. Much of today’s allulose, though, is made from corn, which raises concerns about GMOs. And unfortunately, the flavor and creaminess of Arctic Zero aren’t as great as other brands, but it’s a decent alternative if you’re really watching your caloric intake.

Ingredients: Purified Water, Organic Cane Sugar, Allulose, Sugarcane Fiber, Faba Bean Protein Concentrate, Gum Blend (Acacia, Tara, Guar), Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder With Alkali, Natural Flavors, Sea Salt, Organic Vanilla, Monk Fruit Concentrate.

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

  • Low calorie
  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Vegan
  • Organic ingredients

Cons:

  • Contains gums
  • Contains “natural flavors”
  • Contains undigestible fiber
  • Contains beans that may impact digestion in some people

Other Notable Flavors:  

Other Arctic Zero flavors have very similar ingredients and all contain less than 160 calories per pint. Other high-rated versions include Salted Caramel and Hint of Mint.

10. Good Kind – Mint Chip

Probably my go-to healthy ice cream right now—because it’s what happens to be in my freezer and the company sent me like a dozen pints of the stuff—is from Good Kind. Their entire flavor line has a maximum of 7 organic ingredients, using banana and date for natural sweetness. It’s essentially free of all the downsides of normal “healthy” ice cream, and the high vitamin and mineral content of all the whole-food ingredients make it a nutrition powerhouse in addition to being completely delicious. My favorite flavor is Peanut Butter (which I like to drizzle with NuNaturals chocolate syrup), with Mint Chip being a close second. One downside: because of the banana base, this stuff takes forever to thaw, so I have to try to remind myself to take it out of the freezer in advance (my impatience with this process nearly resulted in my thumb being nearly sliced off as I hacked at the carton…I do not recommend you try that at home).

Ingredients: Organic Coconut Milk, Organic Date, Organic Banana, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Peppermint, Organic Carob chips, Organic Pea Protein, Organic Arrowroot.

Nutrition Facts:

Pros:

  • Low calorie
  • Low carb
  • No artificial ingredients
  • No “natural flavors”
  • No added sugar
  • No gums
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Vegan
  • Non-GMO
  • Organic

Cons:

  • Good Kind is it’s not currently available in stores, so you have to have it shipped to you. But don’t worry, it arrives on your doorstep perfectly frozen—perhaps even more so than store-bought ice cream you have to race home before it melts into a puddle of muck.
  • Very long thaw time

Other Notable Flavors:

In addition to Peanut Butter and Mint Chip, they also have Vanilla, Strawberry, and Chocolate, all with less than 7 ingredients. You can get Good Kind ice cream shipped right to your door here, and you’ll get a 10% discount with code BEN10.


My Favorite Homemade Healthy Ice Cream Recipes

Now, no “healthy ice cream guide” would be complete without a few DIY recipes you can make from the comfort of your own home.

Below are just two of my favorite homemade ice cream recipes from my Boundless Cookbook, easily made with a blender, and chock-full of ingredients specifically tailored for a) gut health, and b) mind-blowing sex.

Gut-Nourishing Keto Ice Cream

This is a simple, delicious low-carb ice cream that doubles as a fantastic gut nourishing recipe, chock full of compounds and superfoods that help to seal the lining of the gut and make your gut actually feel better after a decadent dessert. I’m lazy, so I don’t use an ice cream maker, though you could if you have one. I just use a big ol’ blender (Vitamix is good).

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes, until everything is mixed well. Refrigerate overnight for a “pudding” texture or freeze overnight for an “ice-cream” texture.
  2. If opting for the frozen version, I like to pull it out of the freezer 30-60 minutes before consuming (e.g. before dinner) to soften.
  3. For added calories or flavor, sprinkle with a chopped-up, frozen Kion Clean Energy Bar, cacao nibs, unsweetened coconut flakes, or any other crunchy topping of choice.

Screamin’ Sex Ice Cream

Nitric oxide dilates your blood vessels, and acts almost like a “full-body Viagra.” After I pondered on all the nitric oxide-inducing ingredients one could have, I whipped up a batch of this ice cream on a whim and—whoa —say goodbye to the little blue pill and say hello to screamin’ sex!

This stuff packs a punch for blood flow for both him and her, so it’s a fantastic dessert on a hot date night or before slipping away to the bedroom. Because of the blood flow benefits, it can also be used as a pre-workout, too.

The ingredients for this recipe are a little more involved, but I promise, the pay-off is worth it! Plus, you really only need ½ cup to get the effects.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Blend on high for 2 minutes, or add to an ice cream maker.
  2. Freeze overnight in a rectangular cake pan or stainless steel ice cream container.
  3. Enjoy, and thank me later 😉

Summary

To recap, not all “healthy” ice creams deserve the title. Many have long lists of ingredients that look more like a chemistry textbook than a food label, and contain things like artificial sweeteners, “natural flavors,” undigestible fibers, gums, and other stabilizers. To be fair, it’s not easy to replicate the sweet creaminess of traditional ice cream without milk, eggs, or loads of sugar while trying to make a low-carb, low-calorie, dairy-free, or sugar-free alternative.

However, after scouring the grocery store shelves and inter-webs, I’ve discovered what I believe to be the top 10 healthiest ice cream brands in 2021 that manage to minimize artificial ingredients while maximizing taste and macronutrients (the macros provided are for the specific flavors listed above, and may vary across flavors). Also, since serving sizes may vary, I’ve listed the contents for an entire pint.

      1. 710 calories
      2. 73g net carbs
      3. 4g protein
      4. 63g sugar
      1. 600 calories
      2. 75g net carbs
      3. 3g protein
      4. 60g sugar
      1. 330 calories
      2. 59g net carbs
      3. 12g protein
      4. 18g sugar
      1. 640 calories
      2. 4g net carbs
      3. 8g protein
      4. 0g sugar
      1. 800 calories
      2. 97g net carbs
      3. 6g protein
      4. 64g sugar
      1. 680 calories
      2. 68g net carbs
      3. 4g protein
      4. 48g sugar
      1.  360 calories
      2. 76g net carbs
      3. 12g protein
      4. 24g sugar
      1. 560 calories
      2. 54g net carbs
      3. 5g protein
      4. 31g sugar
      1. 160 calories
      2. 25g net carbs
      3. 6g protein
      4. 25g sugar
      1. 232 calories
      2. 10.8g net carbs
      3. 6.8g protein
      4. 8g sugar

That’s it!—You’re now officially equipped to top off a hot summer night with delicious, good-for-you ice cream that won’t leave you feeling bloated, gassy, and absolutely wrecked.

Now excuse me while I take a quick visit to my freezer…

What about you, have you tried any of these ice creams? What’s your personal favorite? Am I missing any healthier options? Let me know in the comments below!

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