Ice cream is the ultimate treat and one of the best ways to cool down in summer. Young or old, some creamy or icy ice cream is a crowd favorite. Not only are there so many choices for flavors – from tangy berries to soft and sweet fruit and nutty, milky or chocolatey goodness – but when made with no to little added sugar and more natural and high-quality ingredients it can also be a healthier dessert choice.
But there are certain points you should pay extra attention to when choosing a brand of ice cream and to ensure it is safe to consume. Here are four questions that you should be asking to ensure you are choosing the best options out there, according to Istanbul-based Turkish gourmet ice-cream maker Serez Dondurmacısı.
1. Is it made of natural ingredients or is it full off preservatives?
A laundry list of additives, flavor enhancers, chemical thickening agents, food coloring, ready-made simple syrups and artificial sweeteners is used in ice creams nowadays, and unfortunately, this means they are not the healthiest foods out there.
The best ice creams are made from fresh fruit year-round that isn't doused in pesticides. The milk used in making the creamy treat should also be of high-quality and go through the correct pasteurization process, with every ingredient used in the making tested for quality.
2. Does it actually have any nutritional value or is it full of empty calories?
Especially if you are watching your sugar intake or are just trying to stay away from more processed foods in general, your ice cream buying experience may be turning into a headache with all the questions you have: Should I get a scoop or two? Should I opt for fruity ones? Is sugar-free healthier?
At this point, the easiest way to determine whether it is worth it is to check the ingredients and the nutritional values table provided by the manufacturer or seller. So, whether you are worried that the ice cream is full of syrups and is higher in calories, a simple read-through will leave your mind at ease.
3. Will this ice cream trigger my intolerances or allergies?
Our consumption patterns as humans are evolving with the rapid spread of consumerist culture as well as a rising awareness of healthier eating. This is also giving birth to newer types of ice creams – namely vegan or lactose-free alternatives. The key here is, again, reading the label or making sure that employees and sellers are well-informed about possible allergens inside the product.
So whether you have an allergy to dairy or are lactose-intolerant, or a vegan or ovo-vegetarian, make sure you ask about the ingredients used and make your choice accordingly. And a word of caution, plant-based doesn't always mean healthier if your choice is packed with added sugars and artificial ingredients.
4. Does the product meet the required standards?
With food safety gaining more importance with the rise in informed consumers, guidelines and regulations such as HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) which cover the whole of the production chain have come to the forefront once again. It should go without saying that both the places the ice cream are sold at as well as its manufacturing grounds adhere to all hygiene regulations to ensure more natural, healthy and delicious products.
Among top priority are rules such as storing the food item under suitable conditions, ie. the cooler in which the ice cream is kept is cold enough and working properly, and the doors or lids of the storage unit aren't opened frequently as not to introduce hot air inside and the cold-chain isn't broken during transportation.