I am a Registered Dietitian and I want you to eat ice cream.
Go back and read that again if you need to.
In honor of National Ice Cream Month, I thought this would be a good time to talk about why I say go ahead and eat that bowl of ice cream as a bedtime snack.
I know that this is not consistent with what many people think a Registered Dietitian would say–especially when this blog is geared toward folks who need to watch sodium and fat intake carefully due to high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues or early stages of kidney disease (to name a few health concerns we cover).
My out-of-the-box recommendation has to do with the potassium to sodium ratio. I’ll explain.
As I’ve often mentioned, many foods have what is termed “naturally occurring sodium”, which means that even in nature (without any further processing), foods have varying amounts of sodium. Dairy as a category and ice cream in particular do have naturally occurring sodium.
Why do natural foods have sodium? This is at least in part due to the conditions in which they are raised. Livestock feed often includes additives with sodium that promote growth and manage disease. These practices are deemed safe for our food supply.
So you might ask, how do I evaluate the levels of sodium and make good decisions on what to eat?
Although dairy has naturally occurring sodium, it also offers many advantages for that sodium load. The levels of sodium within any given food in the dairy category can vary widely. A glass of milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, hard cheeses, or that personal favorite, ice cream, all can have varying amounts of naturally occurring sodium.
So, in celebration of National Ice Cream Month and also giving a nod to that all-important glass of milk, here are some details on both milk and ice cream. Both offer protein, calcium, Vitamin D and potassium which are all critical for good health. And the ratio of potassium to sodium is about 2-to-1 which is the desirable ratio to increase potassium intake without increasing sodium intake. This ratio is based on the current recommendations from the Institutes of Medicine or IOM more commonly.
Finding The Right Ice Cream
Read the nutrition label and look for products that have less than 50 mg per 1/2 cup serving. Here are a few . . .
Edy’s Slow Churned
- Vanilla 35 mg
- Chocolate 30 mg
- Mint Chocolate Chip 35 mg
- Rocky Road 30 mg
- Strawberry 30 mg
- Chocolate Chip 35 mg
Breyers Carb Smart
- Vanilla 50 mg
You can see that the Edy’s Slow Churned is a great choice since it is low in sodium and low in fat so this is the specific one that I recommend for people with Chronic Kidney Disease and/or Hypertension.