Registered dietitian Alex Caspero, MA, RD gives her verdict on whether or not Halo Top is a healthy treat. 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. Tasty? Yes. But healthy? Well, let’s investigate…
What is Halo Top?Halo Top is a popular “light” alternative to traditional ice creams. It is prominently marketed as:
- rich in protein
HAlo Top Nutrition FActsLet’s take a closer look at how Halo Top’s nutrition compares to conventional ice creams. As an example, here are the nutritional facts from Halo Top’s red velvet flavor (one of my favorites):
- 360 calories in the entire pint
- 20 grams of protein
- 12 grams of fat
- 28 grams of sugar
- 1,040 calories in the entire pint
- 16 grams of protein
- 56 grams of fat
- 92 grams of sugar
Is Halo Top Healthy?Registered dietitian Alex Caspero, MA, RD shares that Halo Top is a fine option to enjoy in moderation if you enjoy the taste. However, she doesn’t endorse it as necessarily “healthier” than traditional ice cream. “With any food, I look at nutrition facts and ingredients,” Alex shares. “Nutrition labels only tell part of the story. You can load food with chemicals to make it low-calorie, low-fat, and ‘free’ of whatever. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good choice.” She points out that the main difference in Halo Top’s recipe is the addition of stabilizers and sugar alcohol for sweetness. “Erythritol is a low-calorie sugar alcohol,” she explains. Is that bad? “This product is fine nutritionally, but it may cause some gastrointestinal distress in some people,” she shares. “Because we don’t metabolize the alcohol molecule like regular sugar, it can cause an upset stomach.” Also, she points out that they’ve added gums as thickeners in place of fat. Her verdict on these gums? On one hand, they are derived from natural sources such as seaweed. On the other, there isn’t a ton of research about their side effects. Still, Alex shares that they are generally considered safe.
A Dietitian’s VerdictFor these reasons, Alex says Halo Top is fine to enjoy if you like the taste. But that doesn’t mean you should overdo it. “If you find that you’re downing the entire pint often because you think it’s a ‘healthy’ choice, you might be better off just having the real thing occasionally,” she says. This is more likely to satisfy your food craving, she reasons. By contrast, reaching for a lighter alternative might only lead to more frequent indulgences.
How to Pick Healthy Foods in GeneralIn reality, unnatural food additives and artificial sweeteners are not always the easiest for our bodies to digest. For that reason, Alex encourages thinking about nutrient density and quality over relying too heavily on the numbers, “I don’t count calories,” she affirms. Instead, she prefers to read the ingredients closely. While she endorses considering calories, it’s ultimately more important to choose foods that are rich in nutrients.
May 18, 2017
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