Most of us are a lot more health-conscious than we used to be. We’re looking to ditch traditional versions of foods that weren’t so great for us in favor of healthier, more nutritious alternatives. A lot of people have given dairy ice cream the ax, believing that plant-based ice cream is better for them.
In some cases, plant-based ice cream is a lot healthier. In other cases, it’s a dairy-free swap that may contain less protein and just as much sugar as regular ice cream. The ice cream base makes all the difference. Keep your spoon in your hand, but don’t dig into your pint just yet. Make sure the ice cream you choose is really intelligent fuel for your body, rather than a swap with no real benefits.
Why Choose Plant-Based Ice Cream?
Since plant-based ice cream eliminates dairy, most varieties of plant-based ice cream are suitable for vegan diets. It always helps to check the label for hidden animal-derived ingredients like honey unless the packaging clearly states that the plant-based ice cream is vegan.
Plant-based ice cream is also suitable for people with dairy allergies or intolerances. Dairy is one of the eight most common food allergens, and many people need to cut milk and milk-based foods from their diet for their health and comfort.
Is Plant-Based Ice Cream Healthier?
Some people switch to plant-based ice cream because they believe it’s healthier. They want to make better choices about their snacks and desserts, and anything that bills itself as “plant-based” seems to fall in line with that philosophy. Don’t get too cozy just yet!
It’s easy to see how “plant-based” can translate to “healthy,” whether it’s intended to translate that way or not. It conjures up this mental image of a bundle of greens. What could be so harmful about that?
The answer is in what plant-based doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean a product isn’t full of sugar, artificial colors, or artificial flavors. It doesn’t mean it contains protein, vitamins, or minerals. It simply means the base is made of plants. This is something you’ll want to keep in mind when choosing plant-based foods.
Ice Cream Made of Nuts
If you’re allergic to tree nuts, almond milk and cashew milk-based ice creams are already off the table for you. If you aren’t allergic to nuts, these alternatives give the impression that they’re lighter and better for you. After all, nuts are healthy!
A whole nut contains protein and valuable nutrients, but nut milks aren’t made from whole nuts. They’re water infused with crushed nuts. Flavor and starches make their way into the finished product, but the protein and most of the essential nutrients are actually thrown away when the milk is strained.
The end result of using nut milk is ice cream with far less protein than dairy ice cream and likely just as much sugar. If you don’t have a dairy intolerance or allergy, there isn’t much of an advantage of switching to nut-based ice cream.
Ice Cream Made of Oats
Many people who avoid dairy milk enjoy oat milk. Oats lend a creamier, richer texture to a milk than nuts do. Oat milk feels a lot more like the “real thing.” It’s also dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free (assuming gluten-free oats were used), making it a valuable alternative for people living with allergies or intolerances.
Oat milk ice cream, like nut milk ice cream, is naturally low in protein and often high in sugar. While it is undoubtedly very allergen-friendly, it isn’t always the healthiest choice.
Ice Cream Made of Coconuts
Coconut is creamy and delicious. Coconut milk retains a subtle coconut flavor, boosting the overall flavor of the ice cream. It goes great with vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mint, and other beloved ice cream flavors. The texture is spot-on, but is everything else?
Coconut-based ice cream falls into the same trap that oat and nut ice creams fall into. There’s no protein in coconut milk, and it’s very light in the nutrient department. It’s usually sweetened with just as much sugar as traditional ice cream, and the varieties that don’t have a ton of sugar usually use sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners that are difficult for the body to process.
Ice Cream Made of Soy
Soy is one of the top 8 major allergens. If you can’t have soy, soy-based ice creams obviously aren’t an option for you. Soy-based ice creams are a bit of a mixed bag from a nutritional standpoint. Soy is high in protein, fiber, and many valuable nutrients. Some of that translates to the ice cream. Soy ice cream will have more naturally occurring protein than most plant-based ice creams, although the protein content isn’t something to write home about.
While soy is a better option nutritionally, soy-based ice creams aren’t any different from other plant-based ice creams in the regard that they’re often loaded with added refined sugar to sweeten them up. There’s also a lot of debate over just how much soy you should really be consuming in your diet as some research suggests it can have adverse effects on your health.
Ice Cream Made of Fruit
Here’s where things start to get interesting. Ice cream made from fruit puree doesn’t have any of its nutrients strained away. The majority of the fruit is in the pint, along with its vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber content. If you’re looking to get your recommended daily servings of fruit, there’s never been an easier way.
Fruit-based ice creams can be enriched with plant-based protein, like protein from hemp seeds. They’re naturally sweet, so they don’t require added sugar to turn them into satisfying desserts. Fruit puree has a naturally creamy texture, making it perfectly spoonable and velvety rich. It closely mimics the mouthfeel of traditional ice cream; no milk required.
Which Ice Cream is Best?
If your reason for switching to plant-based ice cream is to find a healthier alternative to traditional ice cream, fruit-based ice cream wins out. It’s much easier to turn something healthy into something delicious than it is to just turn something delicious into something healthy. When you start with the right ingredients, everything else falls into place seamlessly.
Snow Monkey is the best plant-based ice cream when it comes to your health. Every pint of Snow Monkey contains 20+ grams of plant-based protein and all the goodness of bananas, apples, and seeds. Each flavor boasts its own unique antioxidant profile from sustainably sourced ingredients like cacao, matcha, Ceylon cinnamon, and fruit. We sweeten Snow Monkey with pure maple syrup, rather than added refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. If Mother Nature didn’t make it, we don’t use it.
To top it all off, Snow Monkey is vegan and free from all eight major food allergens. You won’t find any dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, or tree nuts in our desserts. Snow Monkey is built for everyone to enjoy.
Snow Monkey eats like a dessert, but it’s healthy enough to eat for breakfast. Don’t settle for an ice cream that fills your stomach but leaves your body hungry. If you want to eat ice cream for every meal, grab a pint of Snow Monkey. Our recipe is designed to intelligently power your body any time of the day.
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