With Summer here (well, one or two days of it ha!) we all enjoy a little Ice cream treat, with many commercial companies offering ‘light’ or ‘diet’ varieties aimed at the weight loss troupes. But how do we know which ones are the healthiest? Let’s have a look at the content of three different types:
Weight Watchers Vanilla Ice Cream
Weight watchers products are aimed at the weight loss conscious – you see the brand & automatically assume this is a healthier option. But is it really? Let’s look further at the ingredients in detail:
Milk – one of the main allergens in western society, & blamed for contributing to a whole host of medical issues such as leaky gut syndrome & auto immune disorders. Check out one of my favorite bloggers The Paleo Mom here who goes into much further detail.
Skimmed milk – see above, dairy without the beneficial fat!
Sugar – heavily processed & with ZERO nutritional value to us. Causes peaks in G.I. which can lead to diabetes & heart disease in excessive amounts. We have to make the assumption here they have used refined white everyday sugar.
Polydextrose – an indigestible synthetic form of fibre – yes, manmade, fake!
Maltodextrin – an artificial substance usually made from either corn or rice, which gives fat-like body to food products, increases their shelf life, & mixes quite well with other ingredients. It’s also cheap to make & produce. Though not a sugar, it still has a glycemic index of 130 by itself (table sugar is only 65). So unless you are burning off this high G.I. immediately with some intense physical activity, any excess will be turned into fat & stored in the body! So this is a clever way of Weight Watchers getting more sugar into you! & a fake one at that!
Cellulose gel – acts as an emulsion to hold ingredients together, usually made from wood pulp or cotton, & the cheap filler is stuffed into shredded cheese, salad dressing, & ice cream to thicken it without adding calories or fat. It’s also added to shampoo, lovely!
Mono & Diglycerides – are common food additives (E471) used to blend together certain ingredients, such as oil & water, which would not otherwise blend well, thus extending shelf life. The values given in the nutritional labels for total fat, saturated fat, & trans fat do not tend to include those present in mono & diglycerides. Mono & diglycerides can be made either from animal, vegetable or even synthetically produced, but we have no way of knowing which type Weight Watchers are using. Also the chemicals used in manufacturing these additives may well still appear in the finished product.
Cellulose gum – see Cellulose gel
Natural flavor – but what are they & where do they come from?? Are they from organic source without pesticides?
Vanilla extract – a solution containing the flavour compound vanillin, however, this version is very unlikely to be the ‘pure’ variety, so who knows what nasties it may contain.
Artificial vanilla flavor – well the name says it all – artificial, fake, & manmade!
Carrageenan – has ZERO nutritional value, added to many low fat processed foods to make them thicker & fuller. Some research has a shown a concerning connection between carrageenan & gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals, & current research is underway investigating its link with ulcerative colitis & other diseases like diabetes. Read here for more nasties on this ‘natural’ product!
Polysorbate 80 – another binder that’s found not only in food, but medicines & cosmetics too. When tested on animals, this substance was found to cause adverse reproductive effects, cancer & may affect genetic material. Sound like something you want to put into your body?
Vitamin A palmitate – a synthetic version of the essential nutrient vitamin A – yes, another fake!
Is this ‘healthy’ marketed ice cream still sounding like a delicious treat that you want to put into your body? Didn’t think so! It’s that clever old marketing machine trying to fool us into believing products from a commercial weight loss programme are healthy for us, when clearly the ingredients can be very harmful indeed!
So, now let’s look at an alternative ice cream; Bessant & Drury’s Vanilla Ice Cream. I have purposely chosen to compare Weight Watchers ice cream to another manufactured shop bought ice cream to make the comparison fair when it comes to shelf life etc. Let’s see how they compare on ingredients:
Coconut Milk –is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a brown coconut. Coconut is often referred to as ‘The Tree of Life’, due to its many health benefits – check them out here! Coconut has actually been found to aid weight loss, how brilliant is that!
Concentrated apple juice – high concentrations of vitamins & minerals, ASLONG as its 100% from concentrate with no sugars or additives added. However it’s unlikely to contain much fibre.
Glucose – a sugar found in plants & is absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Not actually required by our bodies in this form, other forms of carbohydrates can be converted in the body & used instead.
Sugar – ZERO nutritional value, our bodies have zero need for it! Again, causes peaks in G.I. which can lead to diabetes & heart disease in excessive amounts. We have to make the assumption here they have used refined white everyday sugar.
Chicory root –works well as a replacement for fat & sugar, & also contains a decent level of fibre. It also contains Inulin which prevents constipation, helps maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria in the colon, & helps lower cholesterol levels. High amounts however, can cause gas/bloating, nausea, flatulence, stomach cramping, diarrhoea, & constipation. Moderation is the key with this one.
Xanthan Gum – is a form of carbohydrate made by fermenting corn sugar with bacteria, used to bind substances together & reduce ice crystals in ice cream. Corn sugar isn’t a great form of sugar, & is now being linked to a whole host of health conditions such as diabetes & liver damage.
Natural Vanilla Extract –a solution containing the flavour compound vanillin.
Vanilla Pods – contain the seeds from the vanilla orchid plant. These are a good, quality ingredient, even better if organic. Some have linked vanilla as being a sexual stimulant!
Vanilla Flavour – where do they come from?? Are they from organic source without pesticides?
In comparison the Weight Watchers ice cream contains a whopping 15 ingredients, many of which are artificial & pose numerous health risks, whereas the Bessant & Drury’s contains just 9, many of which are not too bad. Bessant & Drury’s ingredients are certainly much more natural & quality ingredients than the Weight Watchers version, with the added benefit of coconut milk to aid weight loss amongst its many health benefits.
BUT, if you really fancy an even healthier option, then try making your own! This is one of my favourite recipes – just 6 totally natural ingredients (make sure you use raw, organic produce though to get the best health benefits!):
Raw Almonds – a brilliant source of protein & healthy essential fats that not only aid weight loss but have many other amazing qualities too!
Shredded Unsweetened Coconut– we have already covered above, it has many healing properties & aids weight loss too!
Madagascar Vanilla Bean – a great quality ingredient, use organic of course for the best benefits.
Egg yolks – high in protein, organic ones are great as no nasty hormones have been added.
Honey – use raw honey like Manuka, due to all its healing health benefits.
Water – Nothing too suspicious about that! Try filtered waster if you really want a health boost.
But this comparison isn’t just about ice cream, I will be honest! Did you see the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary on Weight Watchers – How They Make Their Millions? I did & it was quite an eye opener! Yes, they remove some fat or sugar from their products, but they then replace them with a whole host of un-pronounceable artificial nasties that can be damaging to our health (as we found above!).
So, before you rush out to the freezer department of the local supermarket, don’t always assume the ‘light’ & ‘diet’ options are actually the healthiest! Remember, natural organic ingredients are by far healthier & safer in the long term, EVEN if they are full-fat versions!
Amy Griffiths, Well Being Freedom Services Ltd ©