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Frozen fantasies.

Frozen Fantasies

The first time my 1 1/2-year-old, Hannah, tasted ice cream, she said "cold." After her second bite, she said "more." That just about sums up America's love affair with frozen desserts.

Whe the heat and humidity settle in, we're all gluttons for anything cool, sweet, and preferably creamy. But lately, many consumers have caught on to the disadvantages of eating ice cream: 235 calories per 3/4-cup, of which half come from nearly three teaspoons of (largely) artery-clogging fat.

And that's just regular ice creams like Breyer's. Premium brands like Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry's pack double the fat into the same size serving.

And so health-conscious consumers have added a new wrinkle to the "ice cream" of their dreams. The perfect frozen dessert, it seems, must also be fat-and calorie-free.

As manufacturers strive for that elusive goal, the choice of summer refreshers has mushroomed. Now, you can find dozens of alternatives to Breyer's vanilla. Check the chart at right for their vital statistics...and our Worst and Best Bites. If our numbers look depressingly large, it's because we use a 3/4-cup serving--which the USDA says is more typical than the standard 1/2 cup (listed on most labels as four fluid ounces).

Fat-Free.

American Glace, Skinny Dip, Gise (pronounced jhee-ZAY). The newest arrivals on the frozen dessert scene still have some calories, but the fat is gone. No cream, no oil, no cholesterol.

So what's left? Skinny Dip and Gise are largely mixtures of fructose (a sugar), whey (a by-product of cheese-making), and added flavors and colors (Gise's are all natural). American Glace is made with nonfat milk, fructose, polydextrose (a corn sugar), and whey (in some flavors).

What makes them all creamy are the gums and the "soft serve" machines that whip air and ice crystals into them. So far, only Skinny Dip is also available in tubs you can take home, but American Glace and Gise are working at it.

Each of these fat-free confections has a mere 50 to 70 calories. What's more, American Glace and Gise even provide good doses of calcium.

As for taste, don't expect Haagen Dazs. Rich and creamy they're not. But refreshing, icy, and not too sweet describe these as-close-to-guilt-free-as-you-can-now-get frozen desserts. Ice Milk. Ice milk is, by definition, lower-fat ice cream. The government requires ice cream to be at least ten percent milkfat by weight. Ice milk is anywhere from just over two percent to seven percent fat. It's made by replacing some of the cream with milk.

As long as you stick to the better brands, you needn't be embarrased to serve ice milk to your guests. We doubt that many adults--not to mention children--could tell the difference between Breyer's Light ice milk and its ice cream.

Meanwhile, you're sparing your arteries half the fat they would otherwise get. With a lower-fat ice milk like Jersey-maid, you avoid three-quarters of the fat.

Frozen Yogurt. What with the added sugar and gums, frozen yogurt is more like ice milk than unsweetened yogurt. In fact, there are only two differences: Ice milk has to be more than two percent fat, while frozen yogurt can be fat-free. Also, the milk in frozen yogurt is cultured, which may help people who have trouble digesting the lactose (milk sugar) in ice milk.

No frozen yogurt we found had more than one teaspoon of fat per 3/4 cup, and some, such as TCBY (The Country's Best Yogurt), had none at all.

But be careful when you read the labeling. The pamphlet available in TCBY Yogurt stores lists the less-desirable nutrients (like calories and fat) per one-ounce serving. But when it comes to the vitamins and minerals, the pamphlet switches to a five-ounce serving. Pretty sneaky.

What's more, five ounces probably isn't a typical serving: it's a "small" one. A "regular" is seven ounces, a "large" is nine, a "super" is 13, and a "giant" is 27 ounces.

Dairy Desserts. When the label says "dairy dessert," it usually means the product doesn't meet the standards for ice milk.

Baskin-Robbins' Low, Lite 'n Luscious dairy dessert can't be called "ice milk" because it's made with the artificial sweetener Nutrasweet and has less fat than the minimum required by the FDA.

Some states have their own definitions of dairy desserts. In California, for example, "light dairy desserts" must be between five and seven percent fat by weight.

Also, California's light dairy desserts really are lighter. They weigh less per gallon than ice milk. In other words: they contain more air.

Some other states have defined dairy desserts, but most have not. Read the label to see what you're getting.

Frozen & Fruity. When I was a kid, orange ices or sherbet meant sugar, water, a little milk (in the sherbet), and artificial colors and flavors. Now manufacturers make frozen desserts out of real fruit. How novel.

Dole sorbet has slightly fewer calories than sherbet and no fat at all. A 3/4-cup serving of Dole's pineapple, peach, or mandarin orange sorbet will give you 100 percent or more of the USRDA for vitamin C. Strawberry supplies 33 percent, and raspberry has just five percent. Newest on the fruit scene is Vitari, a "soft serve" dessert which is largely whipped fruit juice (mostly apple or pear), plus gums, flavors, and colors (from natural sources like beets). Vitari supplies anywhere from 20 to 70 percent of the USRDA for vitamin C, but that's because the manufacturer adds it.

Non-Dairy. Tofutti, Rice Dream, Ice Bean, Mocha Mix. Despite the clever names, this group doesn't exactly excel in the nutrition department.

Except for the new, lowfat Tofutti Lite, most non-dairy desserts are loaded with fat and calories. Ice Bean is as fatty--and as fattening--as Breyer's regular ice cream. Tofutti manages to rival premium ice creams like Haagen Dazs.

True, they've got no cholesterol, and they aren't full of saturated fat. But their unsaturated oils--usually soy or corn--may contribute to bulging bellies and the risk of cancer. And, unlike ice cream, these desserts have little or no calcium.

The non-dairy niche is really for people who can't tolerate lactose or don't want to consume milk or saturated fat. If that means you, try Tofutti Lite, and don't overlook sorbets and the new fat-free "soft-serve" possibilities. Like sorbet, Vitari is made mostly from fruit juice, and Gise is virtually lactose-free.
COPYRIGHT 1989 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 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:contents of frozen desserts
Author:Liebman, Bonnie
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:Jun 1, 1989
Words:1060
Previous Article:Pesticides: fact vs. fantasy.
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