For people who love ice cream but want to make healthier choices, Halo Top feels like the answer. The company's main selling point is that its ice cream contains way less sugar and fewer calories than other ice cream products. As well as this, many of its dessert items are high in protein. All of this adds up to a picture of health -- but is that always the case?
The ice cream company, which is on a mission to make "light ice cream that actually tastes like ice cream," has achieved stratospheric success in the blink of an eye. Founded in 2012, the company came about thanks to CEO Justin Woolverton's desire to make a creamy treat without excessive use of sweeteners, and within three years, it had grown over 20 times in size. "It was just something that I was making in my kitchen because I didn't like sugar ... It wasn't until later, when I got an actual $20 ice cream maker, that I was like, 'Oh, wow, there's something here,'" Woolverton states via Inc.
Halo Top has dozens of flavors in its selection, and some of them, despite its healthy ambitions, don't actually look that great nutritionally. In this article, we sought out the flavors that still contain excessive amounts of added sugar or saturated fat, are curiously high in calories, and may have some unexpected ingredients lurking inside them.
Read more: The Ultimate Ice Cream Brands, Ranked
Chocolate Ice Cream Cake
Chocolate Ice Cream Cake is one of Halo Top's newest flavors, and customers are already in love with its fudgy, creamy flavor. However, it appears that these same customers might have to compromise slightly on this dessert's nutrition. With 360 calories per container, this is one of the more calorific Halo Top flavors there is. It's also fairly high in saturated fat as Halo Top varieties go, with six grams in each tub, a whole 30% of your daily value.
However, with the Chocolate Ice Cream Cake flavor, it's the added sugars that really caught our eye. In every container, there are 17 grams of added sugars, with a massive 31 grams of sugar in total. While this may be less than regular ice cream, it's still a pretty high amount, with 17 grams of added sugars equating to a high proportion of your daily recommended intake. Having too much sugar regularly, even from "healthy" sources, can have a huge number of health consequences, and none of them are that positive. High sugar consumption has been linked to everything from acne and declining skin health, to mental health conditions like depression, to serious conditions like fatty liver disease and cancer, per Healthline.
Halo Top's Candy Bar variety is a mishmash of nougat, chocolate, and caramel swirls, and with those ingredients, we wouldn't blame you for not trusting that it's totally unhealthy. Unfortunately, you might be right. This flavor is higher in added sugar than many other Halo Top choices, having 17 grams in every container; it also has 15% of your daily value for sodium, which is never a good sign in a sweet food. Calories-wise, too, it sits on the upper end of the brand's offerings and has 360 calories per pint.
Now, in comparison to other desserts, this may not be so bad -- but in isolation, it's not great. Humans generally need to consume around 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day, with a little more or less required depending on your level of activity and age. Eat a whole tub of Halo Top Candy Bar, and you could be having around 20% of your daily caloric intake, and spending it on an item that's pretty processed.
Chocolate Caramel Brownie
A chocolate caramel brownie-flavored ice cream that's somehow healthy? Sign us up. Unless, however, it's for the Halo Top version. Halo Top doesn't make any secret of still having added sugar in its products, but it's included in high proportions in its Chocolate Caramel Brownie flavor. Every pint has 19 grams of added sugar, almost 40% of your daily value, according to the American Heart Association.
Added sugar is, unfortunately, no joke. It's one of the main risk factors for a variety of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, particularly when it's consumed alongside other poor dietary components, as research published in Nutrients discusses. Added sugars are also one of the main sources of empty calories in the diet, as they provide energy without any real nutritional benefit. It's also important to keep in mind that while this is a super-sweet dessert thanks to the added sugars, the Chocolate Caramel Brownie flavor is also high in sodium, which potentially acts to balance the sweetness out. Each pint has 380 milligrams of sodium, almost 20% of your daily value.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Many ice cream companies out there have a chocolate chip cookie dough flavor, but few brand themselves as healthy. Halo Top's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough variety is different, and with a high amount of protein and fiber per serving, we can certainly see the positives. Where this ice cream stumbles, however, is in its other nutritional aspects. With 19 grams of added sugar per container, this is one of the most sugary Halo Top flavors, and it also contains 360 calories.
It's its saturated fat levels, though, which really let it down. In each pint, there are 5 grams of saturated fat. This may not sound excessive, but once you consider the fact that there's a large amount of air in Halo Top ice cream, and a full tub only actually weighs around 256 grams, it's pretty clear how quickly you can get through a whole container. Saturated fats are particularly dense, and because of this, our system finds it harder to break them down. This means that they end up being converted into triglycerides that raise our blood cholesterol levels, per SELF.
Peanut Butter Chocolate (Keto)
As well as having a variety of lower-in-sugar flavors, Halo Top also has a selection of ice cream varieties geared towards people following a keto diet. The keto (short for ketogenic) diet instructs that people reduce their carbohydrate content to the bare minimum, and replace it with fats to generate weight loss. Halo Top's Peanut Butter Chocolate flavor definitely seems to be in line with this diet, containing just 7 net grams of carbs per carton. However, the downside of this is that it's absolutely loaded with saturated fat, with 10 grams per serving and 30 grams for a full pint -- roughly 150% of your daily value.
The saturated fat content in keto diets is not without controversy. While saturated fats are encouraged as the main source of fat in the diet, this leads to people consuming potentially enormous amounts, and it's been found that those who follow the keto diet may demonstrate higher bad cholesterol levels, according to Harvard Health Publishing. It's also important to keep in mind that this flavor is pretty high in sodium, with 470 milligrams in each tub, and is also rather calorific.
Red velvet cake is one of life's great indulgences, and when it's in ice cream form, it's even better. Just don't expect it to be super healthy -- even when it's Halo Top. The company's Red Velvet Ice Cream has an added sugar amount that you might reasonably expect from a regular ice cream, with 18 grams per container. In total, the ice cream contains 31 grams of sugar in the whole carton, a fairly high amount that contributes to its overall higher calorie count.
Additionally, while much is made of Halo Top's high protein varieties, the Red Velvet flavor sits on the slightly lower end of the scale, with 17 grams per container. Now, don't get us wrong -– that's still a lot more than most ice creams. If you're actively seeking protein from this dessert, though, you may want to consider other flavors. It is also prudent to keep in mind that getting all of this protein from your ice cream may not be the best strategy. Following a high-protein diet long-term may have an impact on your heart health, and may also worsen kidney function, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Strawberry ice cream is one of the safest options to go for, with most people enjoying the flavor's sweet, inoffensive taste. When it comes to Halo Top, too, it seems like a pretty good choice. This flavor contains just 270 calories per pint, and only 11 grams of sugar, making it one of the lowest-calorie and lowest-sugar options in Halo Top's range. It also has just 5 grams of fat overall, and 3 grams of saturated fat.
So, what's the problem? Our main concern lies with its sodium level. In each container, there are 270 milligrams of sodium, approximately 12% of your daily intake -- in something that's meant to be sweet. Of course, we do need some sodium in our diets, but the daily average of over 3,400 milligrams per day that most Americans are having is vastly more than the amount we should be consuming. In fact, the more optimal limit is 1,500 milligrams each day -– and crucially, we tend not to think of the sodium content of sweet food, focusing more on the amount of sugar in it. As such, sources like this strawberry-flavored ice cream can go under the radar.
Sea Salt Caramel Pops
The Halo Top tub is by now pretty well-known, but the company also makes portable ice creams for when you're on the go. Its Sea Salt Caramel Pops are especially enticing, and with just 100 calories in each ice cream, they initially look to be a winner. However, they're still surprisingly high in added sugar. Each pop has 5 grams of added sugar per serving and 1.5 grams of saturated fat, which is no insignificant amount for a food item branded as healthy.
It's also vital to consider where Halo Top products get their sweetness from, in the absence of more sugar -- and how they manage to be so high in fiber. One look at the ingredients list for its Sea Salt Caramel Pops reveals all, where you'll see two ingredients prominently listed: inulin and erythritol. Inulin is a fiber that's often derived from chicory root, and although it's generally safe to use, in some people, it can cause gastrointestinal issues like cramping, gas, and increased frequency of needing to go to the bathroom (via WebMD). Erythritol, on the other hand, is a low-calorie sweetener that can also cause digestive upset, per Healthline.
Vanilla Caramel Milkshake
Halo Top's Vanilla Caramel Milkshake combines a few simple flavors to make something that's pretty delicious. The downside of this flavor, though, is that it's one of the unhealthiest from the brand. Each pint has 20 grams of added sugar in it, which is one of the highest levels out there of all the Halo Top varieties. Additionally, it's a particularly salty option, containing 430 milligrams per container, and it also has 4 grams of saturated fat to boot.
Although several of these nutritional aspects look worse when it comes to regular ice cream, some don't. Halo Top ice cream can often be much saltier than both regular and premium ice cream options, giving you more than double the sodium for the same-sized serving. That difference is even more pronounced with a sodium-rich variety like this one, and considering that some people may use its lower-calorie quality as a license to eat more, you may end up vastly exceeding your daily intake.
Chocolate Caramel Lava Cake (Keto)
Halo Top has both basic and more extravagant flavors in its range, and its Chocolate Caramel Lava Cake is one of its more out-there options. Part of the company's keto series, it has just 8 grams of net carbs in every pint (its total carb count is significantly higher, but most of these are fiber and sugar alcohol). However, just as extravagant as its flavor is its levels of other nutrients like saturated fat, sodium, calories, and cholesterol.
Alongside the 23 grams of saturated fat in each carton, the Chocolate Caramel Lava Cake option has a whopping 570 calories, 600 milligrams of sodium per pint. This is over a quarter of your daily value, and even a serving of it, weighing in at 91 grams, has 200 milligrams, which is still high. Additionally, there are 145 milligrams of cholesterol in the carton, almost half of your daily value for the nutrient. While consuming cholesterol isn't a risk factor for higher blood cholesterol in a lot of people, in certain individuals it is, especially considering the fact that this substance goes hand-in-hand with higher saturated fat levels (per the CDC).
Many companies make seasonal versions of their product, and Halo Top is no different. Its Pumpkin Pie ice cream flavor is squarely aimed at the Thanksgiving market and can seem like a lower-calorie alternative to the real thing. Don't be deceived, however, into thinking that it's entirely healthy. This ice cream still has 7 grams of saturated fat in every cup, amounting to 35% of your daily value. Calorie-wise, too, the Pumpkin Pie flavor delivers 360 calories per pint.
We're also not a massive fan of the size of its ingredients list -- and although nobody out there is likely thinking that this ice cream grows naturally from the ground, its length clearly indicates that it's an ultra-processed item. Ultra-processed foods, whether they're "healthy" or not, may not be as readily digested by our bodies as whole food sources, and our systems may also use their nutrients differently, according to the British Heart Foundation. While it's tricky to follow a lifestyle that's totally devoid of ultra-processed foods, it's always worth considering where you can cut down on them.
Halo Top doesn't just make dairy-based frozen desserts; it also produces a range of sorbets which, similar to its ice cream products, are designed to be lower in sugar than the average offering. Unfortunately, what they lack in sugar, they make up for in other things that you may not want. Take its Strawberry Sorbet, for example. It has no fat, saturated fat, or cholesterol, but it is absurdly high in fiber, with 43 grams per tub -- 152% of your daily value.
Getting enough fiber is important, but getting too much is a problem. Excessive fiber consumption can be heavy on our gut and disrupt our normal bowel action. This can lead to gas, bloating, and constipation, according to EatingWell.
As well as this, the Strawberry Sorbet may claim it has "54% less sugar" than others, but it still contains ... well ... A lot of sugar. There are 38 grams of added sugar in each container, which is way higher than any of the company's ice cream flavors. This could be more than the entirety you should be eating in a full day, regardless of your body composition or activity level.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.