A registered dietitian weighs in on the sweet stuff.
Vegan ice creams are on the rise! It used to be that you were lucky to find even one dairy-free option. However, many grocery stores have an endless selection of vegan options these days. Coconut-milk, almond-milk, or cashew-milk bases? Pistachio, cappuccino, or birthday cake flavors? You dream it, they’ve got it. But how do all these ice cream options stack up nutritionally? We enlisted the help of HUM’s Director of Education, Sarah Greenfield, RD, to help.
What to Know About Vegan Ice Cream
First, dairy free doesn’t necessarily mean guilt free. “It’s important to understand they’re not sugar free. And just because they’re dairy free doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy,” Sarah tells us. She adds that in moderation it’ll definitely satisfy a sweet tooth, but to beware if you have a nut allergy since many are made with nut milks.
Which Nut Milk To Look For
Nutritionally speaking, Sarah says there’s not much of a difference between the different bases used in vegan ice cream. “I typically choose a base ingredient that I don’t eat consistently in my diet. For example, I eat almond yogurt and almond crackers, so having almond-based ice cream may be too much.” For this reason, Sarah will opt for a cashew or coconut milk-based vegan ice cream instead. “Giving your body variety and rotating ingredients is beneficial because you get exposure to different nutrients.”
5 Popular Vegan Ice Creams, Nutritionally Ranked
Next, we picked up five popular vegan ice-cream brands. Sarah then examined the labels to determine which ice creams she recommended in terms of nutrition. Here’s her ranking from least to most recommended.
Fifth Place: Almond Dream
“This one comes in last because it has the most additives, oils, and added sugar.”
Fourth Place: Coconut Bliss
“I like that this one has a short list of ingredients that are mostly organic. However, it’s lower in protein (two grams) and fiber (two grams) compared to some of the others.
Third Place: Nada Moo
“This one has six grams of fiber, which is more than any of the others. It also has the lowest amount of added sugar and many organic ingredients. It only ranks lower than my top two because it’s made with agave instead of cane sugar. Agave is higher in fructose, and too much of it can have negative health implications.”
Second Place: So Delicious
“This vegan ice cream has a smaller list of ingredients (which I always like) and the second-highest protein content (three grams). It also uses cane sugar as the sweetener.”
First Choice: Almond Creme
“Nutritionally speaking, this one’s my top choice because it has less sugar than most of the other selections and uses cane sugar. It also contains five grams of protein and uses mostly organic ingredients with no fillers or oils.”
But Does What Do our Taste Buds Prefer?
To put these to the test, we had HUM staffers try each one in a blind taste test. See which vegan ice cream came out on top by watching the video above!