A nutritionist gives her verdict on Halo Top.
I first tried Halo Top at a friend’s house and then immediately went out and bought two pints, which I unabashedly finished in the same week. Prominently marketed as a low-calorie, low-sugar, low-carb, low-fat frozen dessert, and even “a good source of protein,” Halo Top leaves nothing to feel bad about… right?
To take a closer look, Halo Top’s red velvet flavor (one of my favorites) has 360 calories in the entire pint, 20 grams of protein, 12 grams of fat, and 28 grams of sugar. By comparison, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Red Velvet Cake comes in at 1,040 calories, only 16 grams of protein, 56 grams of fat, and a whopping 92 grams of sugar.
To put my guilty pleasure to the test, I checked in with HUM Nutritionist Alex Caspero to see whether Halo Top is all it’s cracked up to be (or full of ingredients we’re going to pay for in other ways).
A Warning on Low-Calorie Foods
“With any food, I look at nutrition facts and ingredients. Nutrition labels only tell part of the story. You can load a food with chemicals, make it low-calorie, low-fat, and ‘free’ of whatever. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good choice.”
Look For Nutrient Density
“I don’t count calories. Instead, I advise a nutrient-dense way of eating. Choose foods containing lots of nutrients considering the amount of calories. Eating this way ensures that you’re getting in essential nutrients while still allowing for some fun foods.”
How Does Halo Top Do It?
“Compared to real ice cream, the main difference is the addition of stabilizers and sugar alcohol for sweetness. Erythritol, the first sweetener listed, is a low-calorie sugar alcohol. This product is fine nutritionally, but it may cause some GI distress (i.e., diarrhea) in some people. Because we don’t metabolize the alcohol molecule like regular sugar, it can cause an upset stomach. To replace fat, they’ve used gums. Derived from natural sources (bushes, trees, seaweed, bacteria), they’re poorly tested though generally considered safe.”
“If you like the taste of Halo Top, then enjoy it! It’s a fine product to include in your diet. However, if you find that you’re downing the entire pint often because you think it’s a ‘healthy’ choice compared to other ice cream, you might be better off just having the real thing occasionally. It’s usually more satisfying.”