Halo Top Ice Cream: Is it a healthy snack?

The name Halo Top Ice Cream should ring a bell. Or doesn’t it?  Well, Halo Top Ice Cream is a very good alternative to the conventional ice cream. The difference here is that its calorie content is much lower when compared to the traditional ice cream.

Ingredients used in the making of Halo Top Ice Cream are natural and organic. It is a rich source of protein with just 280-370 calories per pint-size carton (473ml).

Now, the question on many people’s mind would be… “Is this ice-cream the real deal, or is it overhyped?”

This article will closely examine this food product and help determine whether it is really healthy or just another junk food.

Halo Top Ice Cream
Photo Credit: Bustle

What is Halo Top ice cream?

Halo Top was launched in the United States in 2012.

This cream, which is now sold in a pint-size pack, is very popular and widely sold not only in the United States, but also in Mexico, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and other countries in Europe.

Its calorie content is much lower than that of the conventional ice cream because it has less cream and natural sugar substitutes.

Also, Halo Top Ice Cream is a combination of organic and natural ingredients. For instance, dairy products are sourced from cows raised naturally, alongside organic cane sugar.

Apart from the dairy-based version, other versions of the Halo Top include the vegan and the non-dairy versions. The vegan versions are produced from coconut milk.

Comparing the nutrient-value of Halo Top Ice Cream to that of traditional ice creams

Halo Top has often been compared to premium cream products (with high fat content). However, there is also the need to compare it to the regular ice creams.

Here’s a comparison of the nutrient value of a ½ cup serving of vanilla-flavored Halo Top to the regular vanilla ice cream, an also the premium ice cream (1):

Halo Top ice cream (64 grams) Regular ice cream (66 grams) Premium ice cream (107 grams)
Calories 70 137 250
Total fat 2 grams 7 grams 16 grams
Saturated fat 1 gram 4.5 grams 10 grams
Cholesterol 45 mg 29 mg 90mg
Sodium 110 mg 53 mg 50 mg
Protein 5 grams 2 grams 4 grams
Total carbs 14 grams 16 grams 21 grams
Fiber 3 grams 0.5 grams 0 grams
Sugars* 6 grams 14 grams 20 grams
Sugar alcohol 5 grams 0 grams 0 grams
Calcium 10% of the RDI 6% of the RDI 15% of the RDI

*Including lactose and added sugars

As highlighted in the table above, the calorie content of Halo Top  Ice Cream is half that of regular versions, and not even up to a third of the premium ice cream. This is due to its low sugar and fat content.

Also, from a 64-gram serving of Halo Top, you get 5g of protein which is 10 percent of the Reference Daily Intake. This may not be much but it is two times the amount that you would get from the regular ice cream. Looking at the vitamin and mineral content, you’d notice that the major contribution from ice cream is calcium. Calcium helps in the buildup of healthy bones. A serving of Halo Top will give just 10 percent of the Reference Daily Intake of Calcium, while a cup of milk will give 21 percent of the Reference Daily Intake (1, 2).

What are the contents of Halo Top ice cream?

Halo Top ice cream has at least 12 different flavors such as the peanut butter cup flavor and the birthday cake flavor. All flavors have the same basic ingredients.

For the vanilla version, the ingredients include eggs, skim milk, erythitol, milk protein concentrate, prebiotic fiber, cream, vegetable glycerin, organic cane sugar, natural flavors, sea salt, organic carob gum, vanilla beans, organic stevia leaf extract, and organic guar gum.

For the vegan version, the eggs and milk are replaced with coconut cream mixed with water. The coconut cream is basically coconut milk with a reduced fat content.

Let us analyze some of the key ingredients in this snack.

Sugar substitutes

Halo Top contains cane sugar. It is also laced with erythritol and stevia leaf extract. Both are natural sugar substitutes.

The stevia leaf extract is very low in calories. This extract is made from the plant Stevia rebaudiana (1, 3).

Erythritol also has zero calorie content in the amounts typically used. This sweetener has varying sources. The one used for the production of Halo Top Ice Cream yeast fermentation of corn starch (4, 5).

Erythritol is categorized as a sugar alcohol due its chemical structure. Unlike other sweeteners, it does not cause diarrhea or nausea unless you take in an amount higher than 50 grams. Only 20 grams are contained in a pint of Halo Top Ice Cream (6).

Gum and fiber

Usually, you do not see fiber in ice cream. However, there is a good amount of prebiotic fiber in Halo Top. This is added to boost the growth of bacteria in your colon or large intestine (7).

The gums added to Halo Top include guar and carob. They are made from the guar beans and the carob seeds respectively. Both guar and carob are legumes (8, 9).

The gums used for the production of Halo Top are soluble fibers. This means that they absorb liquid and form a gel. Their role is to replace the fat content and also stabilize the cream. Subsequently, this reduces the formation of ice crystals, giving rise to a smoother texture (10, 11).

All said and done, the texture of Halo Top is not as creamy as that of regular ice cream. It’ll feel kind of dry in your mouth.

Protein concentrate

The dairy-based Halo Top ice cream has its protein content from eggs and skim milk. Another source would be the milk protein concentrate (12).

The vegan version has its protein sourced from isolated peas and rice. The amount is just 3 grams per ½ cup serving. The dairy-based version on the other hand has 5 grams per ½ cup serving.

Other ingredients

Other ingredients used for the production of Halo Top products include vegetable glycerin, natural colors, and natural flavors.

Glycerin improves the texture of the product by retaining moisture. It also provides some sweetness to it (13).

The natural flavors are not well-known. They may be marketing secrets though. Because they are termed “Natural”, it would mean that they are derived from animals, plants, or microbial actions (14). The natural colors are sourced from fruits and vegetables, as well as annatto and turmeric.

Is Halo Top ice cream healthy?

Halo Top Ice Cream is a processed food, and like every other processed food, it has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s get on with it.

The pros

Halo Top ice cream has less calorie content compared to the regular ice cream. Its protein content is large and helps in satiety. With this, you can enjoy it while not being afraid of overdose of calories (15, 16, 17).

As plus, halo Top has low sugar content. This means that your blood sugar will stay within limits even when you eat it, compared to a similar serving size of regular ice cream (18, 19).

Finally, the risk of tooth decay is low because the natural sugar additives, stevia and erythritol, help to destroy the bacteria that erodes your tooth enamel (20, 21, 22, 23).

The cons

When you look at the top of the foil, what you see is, “Stop when you hit the bottom.” However, the face of carton (of the vanilla version) indicates that for every pint, you get 280 calories. This implies that you can consumes the entire container all at once. However, the truth is that you get 4 servings for every pint.

Eating halo Top by the pint may cause issues with portion control and also discourage you from taking the plant compounds, minerals and vitamins provided by other nutritious and healthy foods. Also, your intake of sugar will be greatly increased (24).

Remember that Halo Top contains sweeteners like erythritol and stevia, as well as cane sugar.

Intake of excess added sugar is bad for your health and triggers various health conditions like heart disease, obesity and diabetes (25, 26).

Although the calorie count might be low, you should not think of Halo Top as a healthy food, but rather, as a low-calorie ice cream.

Halo Top does not contain essential nutrients other than protein and calcium. Also, it is not as tasty as the regular ice cream, and this may leave you very unsatisfied.

Also, excessive intake of Halo Ice Cream make cause some gassiness because the bacteria in your gut will get to work, fermenting the prebiotic fiber in the ice cream (27). Finally, some people may be allergic to some of the ingredients in the product, including guar gum, erythritol, and carob gum. However, such allergic reactions are very rare (28, 29, 30, 31).

Should I eat Halo Top Ice Cream or not?

All things equal, Halo Top ice cream is not a bad product. It is good and recommended, but you must eat decent amounts. There’s no room for overeating.

Halo Top is made of natural ingredients making it much better than the conventional ice creams that are laced with artificial sweeteners and colors (32, 33, 34).

On the other hand, because of its low fat content, it doesn’t feel as creamy as its contemporaries, and this will leave the eater dissatisfied. You may counter this by taking a little portion of organic or natural regular ice cream, which contains lesser additives (35).

Summarily, you can eat Halo Top products occasionally. Do not make it an everyday thing! Halo Top ice cream is a processed food, and its health benefits are nothing compared to what you’d get from the natural, nutrient-rich, whole foods (36).

The summary

Halo Top ice cream and other diet desserts are quite enticing. Why? Because you get to enjoy that sweetness. Yes!

We appreciate the fact that it has a rich and appealing natural ingredient profile. However, you are advised not to swallow the entire pint at once, as this will be a step towards developing an unhealthy eating habit. Also, Halo Top is not a rich source of nutrients, except calcium and proteins. It is best eaten occasionally and in moderate portions.

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