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Ice cream: the real scoop.

In 1989, when we first looked at the frozen dessert world, the lowest-fat category was a pretty lonely place. Its only inhabitants: a handful of frozen yogurts and ice milks.

No longer. More than 100 ice creams and frozen yogurts made our three-grams-of-fat cutoff for a Best Bite. And that was for a whole cup, which is what most people, we figure, are likely to eat. (Labels use a 1/2-cup serving, which makes their numbers look a whole lot lower than ours.

ICE CREAM

What's so great about three grams of fat or less per cup? Compare it to a regular standby like Breyers (about 17 grams per cup) and you'll see. Or to Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry's (30 to 50 grams--about two-thirds of a day's fat quota for most adults).

And, in a good-news flash for your arteries, our Best Bites had only a gram or two of saturated fat. A cup of one of the full-fat designer brands like Ben Jerry's or Haagen-Dazs supplies a day's worth.

Just remember that lowfat (or no-fat) doesn't necessarily mean non-fattening. A cup of regular Kemps Classic ice cream averages 13 grams of fat and close to 300 calories.

A cup of Healthy Choice Premium Low-Fat ice cream averages about a third less fat ... but still has 240 calories. The reason for all those calories: sugar.

As for taste: shop around. If you've given up on fat-free ice cream because you happened to get a bad-tasting brand (like Sealtest), keep trying. Breyers Fat Free chocolate (we tasted mostly chocolates) was almost as rich and creamy as regular ice cream.

And Mattus's amazing Lowfat Ice Cream surpassed even Breyers. At six grams per cup, it's got twice as much fat as we recommend. But its extraordinarily rich flavor rivals that of extra-full-fatties like Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Dazs, with their 30+ grams of fat. (No surprise there: Reuben Mattus created Haagen-Dazs.)

FROZEN YOGURT

It was the best of yogurts. It was the worst of yogurts. Elan, Colombo, Haagen-Dazs, Stars. Some are terrific ... some are terrible.

Take Stars. While it makes a non-fat frozen yogurt, its regular frozen yogurt scared the dickens out of us. Eat a cup of the Butter Pecan flavor and you'll be downing 28 grams of fat (nearly half of them saturated). That's worse than any non-premium ice cream. Heck. It's as bad as a cup of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream.

Isn't frozen yogurt a health food?

No way. While most provide a nice dose of the active cultures that give yogurt its healthy reputation, if you're not careful, frozen yogurt can do as much damage as ice cream. And, like ice cream, its sugar adds calories. For example:

* A cup of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Raspberry Swirl or Coffee Almond Fudge frozen yogurt has more calories than a cup of Kemps Classics Fudge Nut Cone ice cream.

* A cup of Colombo Gourmet Shoppe Style Peanut Butter Cup frozen yogurt has as much fat as a McDonald's Quarter Pounder, and its White Chocolate Almond flavor has more saturated fat than a Big Mac.

* A cup of Haagen-dazs Extraas Strawberry Cheesecake Craze or Brownie Nut Blast frozen yogurt packs a 400-calorie wallop. That's as much as a McDonald's Sausage McMuffin with Egg.

And all that fat is so unnecessary. Colombo Nonfat Shoppe Style and Lowfat Shoppe Style tasted almost as rich as ice cream. Ditto for Kemps Nonfat. Ciao Bella Low Fat and Stonyfield Farm Nonfat were less creamy, but still delicious. And Haagen-dazs lightens up some of its flavors by combining frozen yogurt with fruit sorbets.

NON-DAIRY FROZEN DESSERTS

You're dairy-free? Don't fret.

Lower-fat has finally filtered down beyond dairy, with the exception of regular Tofatti... er ... Tofutti. A cup of its Vanilla Almond Bark or Better Pecan has as much fat as three Dunkin' Donuts Glazed Doughnuts. And it has more saturated fat than most low-fat ice creams and many frozen yogurts.

Instead, try the company's low-fat Better Than Yogurt. You might also be able to find fat-free Ice Bean or Sweet Nothings at your health food store.

Unfortunately, none of them have enough calcium to be Best Bites. But they taste far more like ice cream than they did just a few years ago.

I Scream, You Scream...

"Best Bites" contain no more than three grams of fat per cup and at least 20 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium. They're also free of artificial sweeteners (aspartame, or NutraSweet, which is the one most frequently used, hasn't been adequately tested). When no flavors in a line earned a "Best Bite," we listed average numbers for the entire line. Always check the label for your favorite flavor. Products are ranked from least to most fat. All numbers are rounded to the nearest gram.

[TABULAR DATA OMITTED]
COPYRIGHT 1995 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Article Details
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Author:Schmidt, Stephen
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:May 1, 1995
Words:801
Previous Article:Food labels: made with real tricks!
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