Blog Nutrition 10 Reasons Why Ice Cream Is Bad for You: Discover the Truth and Healthy Alternatives

10 Reasons Why Ice Cream Is Bad for You: Discover the Truth and Healthy Alternatives

10 reasons why ice cream is bad for you may upset anyone who has an affinity for the creamy, sweet, nostalgic dessert. However, the truth is better when you start to consider your overall wellness. It’s okay to wonder why ice cream is bad for you and find ways you can still enjoy it.

Here, you’ll discover the 10 reasons why ice cream is bad for you. You’ll also see how occasional, moderate ice cream portions can be possible as part of a healthy diet. But first, let’s show you the downsides of your favorite summertime dessert before we tell you about its potential benefits and tasty alternatives.

Why Is Ice Cream So Unhealthy?

Too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily good. Some bad effects of ice cream overload include:

  • It contains a lot of calories, saturated fat, carbs, and added sugars (16, 14, 24, 9).
  • The lack of fiber may contribute to poor sleep quality (14, 9, 8).
  • You could contribute to weight gain by exceeding your recommended daily added sugar allowance (3, 6).
  • Ice cream may cause digestive problems in some people (1, 22).
  • Too much ice cream may damage your tooth enamel (9, 23).
  • You could experience short, intense headaches (15).
  • Some ice cream may contain additives you would prefer to avoid (7, 4).
  • Lots of ice cream may contribute to skin issues (25).
  • Too much fructose could contribute to liver inflammation, disease, or dysregulation (2).
  • A high-sugar diet may contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain (10, 12)

It’s best to understand why ice cream can cause these effects before you ban the dessert completely. You should aim for moderation and portion control in a balanced diet, not necessarily the complete removal of ice cream.

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What Does Ice Cream Do to Your Body?

The “eating too much ice cream” side effects and potential health setbacks will astound you. Moderate ice cream intake is possible on a balanced diet, but first, let’s look at the potential setbacks of overeating ice cream or eating an unbalanced diet:

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Poor Nutritional Balance

The problems with ice cream start with its nutritional values. Let’s discover the nutritional value of the four main types of ice cream you can find in stores, and how some of them compare to the daily values (DV) on a balanced 2,000-calorie diet. 

Firstly, the USDA shows the following values for ½ cup of no-added-sugar ice cream (16). One serving contains a reasonable amount of calories but a high proportion of saturated fat. You’ll soon understand why saturated fat is a threat to your heart and health. 

Calories Total Fat Saturated Fat Protein Cholesterol Sugar Carbs
115 5.07 g 2.75 g 2.7 g 18.4 mg 4.39 g 14.6 g

Next, the USDA shows the following values for ½ cup of low-fat ice cream (14). One serving only contains 4% of your total fat but 8% of your saturated fat DV for the day. Low-fat ice cream doesn’t cut carbs, though. It also has only 3% of your cholesterol DV.

130 2.5 g 1.5 g 3 g 9.9 mg 17 g 13 g

10 reasons why ice cream is bad for you  

The USDA shares the following values for ½ cup of regular store-bought ice cream (24). One portion contains 11% of your total fat, 20% of your saturated fat, and 10% of your cholesterol DV. 

140 7.02 g 4 g 2 g 29.9 mg 14 g 17 g

Finally, the USDA shares the following values for ½ cup of premium ice cream (9). A premium ice cream brand is richer, smoother, and contains 20% of your total fat DV. It also has 40% of your saturated fat and 23% of your cholesterol DV. 

210 13 g 8 g 3 g 69.9 mg 19 g 20 g

The nutritional values show that no store-bought ice cream is completely healthy. They are all rich in saturated fat, carbohydrates, and cholesterol. This doesn’t mean that you can’t eat ice cream, but it’s important to understand how much of these nutrients it contributes and how it fits into your overall day. Everything else you eat is also important and how it all fits together is most important. 

Read more: This Healthy Ice Cream Recipe Proves That Guilt-Free Dessert Does Exist

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Is Ice Cream Bad for You at Night?

Another disadvantage dampens the habit of soothing your mind with an “ice cap” before bed. The saturated fat and sugar in all ice creams is high. At the same time, even low-fat and premium ice creams lack fiber (14, 9). New York researchers studied how these factors affect sleep quality (8). 

Eating less fiber and high sugar/saturated fat amounts may cause poor sleep and more nighttime arousal. However, this was only a small study and it is related to low fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake in the overall diet, rather than one meal or dessert.

What’s the Weight Gain If I Eat Ice Cream Once a Week?

The National Library of Medicine estimates that most women need to eat approximately 2,000 calories per day to maintain their weight, while men need approximately 2,500 (6). Women should decrease their daily calories to 1,500 and men to 2,000 in order to lose a pound of weight a week. Eating a single portion of low-fat ice cream each week will only add 130 calories, but it also adds 17 grams of sugar (14). 

Harvard suggests that women shouldn’t consume more than 24 grams of added sugar daily, while men should limit it to 36 grams (3). Eating more added sugar than this could contribute to weight gain and other health problems. Eating a single portion of ice cream once a week may not put you over your sugar limit or make you gain weight, but eating it every night could be too much, depending on the rest of your diet.

You May Experience Digestive Problems

Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests up to 70% of people worldwide don’t produce enough lactase enzymes to break down the sugar lactose (1). Unfortunately, this explains why ice cream may cause gas, bloating, and digestive discomfort, particularly in those who are lactose-intolerant. At the same time, Canadian researchers have suggested that carrageenan in ice cream may cause intestinal inflammation without an intolerance (22). 

The Risk of Tooth Decay May Increase

Ice cream with high sugar counts may decay your tooth enamel faster (9). The NHS explains how the bacteria in your mouth absorb sugar for energy, releasing acid in its place (23). A diet that is too high in added sugar is a recipe for damaging your tooth enamel. 

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You May Experience Migraines

Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests ice cream can sometimes cause a brain freeze headache, which lasts shorter than a migraine but is far more intense (15). The sudden coldness against the roof of your mouth can constrict blood vessels and cause a fast but intense headache. Drinking warm water can help. 

Store-Bought Ice Cream May Contain Additives

Store-bought ice cream is likely to contain preservatives or other additives for flavor, color, or texture. Flavorings can include common allergens, so if you have a food allergy, you must read the labels carefully. 

10 reasons why ice cream is bad for you  

Reasons Why Ice Cream May Be Bad for Your Skin

Too much ice cream can negatively affect your skin. The Cleveland Clinic suggests that some of the ingredients in ice cream are best limited for healthy skin (25): 

  • Saturated fat and dairy may increase hormones that cause acne
  • High-sugar diets can also promote acne through increased insulin
  • High-sugar diets may affect collagen production and produce wrinkles
  • Disrupted collagen can reduce the softness and elasticity of the skin
  • High-sodium ice cream and other foods may dehydrate you and your skin
  • Sodium can also cause puffiness due to water retention

Reasons Why Ice Cream May Be Bad for Your Liver

Some ice cream and other sweets may be sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Italian research suggests that a diet that is high in added fructose can increase the following risks (2):

  • Liver inflammation
  • Dyslipidemia (the dysregulation of vital liver functions)
  • An inability to healthily regulate insulin and glucose levels
  • Developing insulin resistance
  • Regulating cholesterol levels properly
  • Producing more LDL-C or bad cholesterol
  • De novo lipogenesis (the transformation of carbs into fatty acids and other lipids)
  • Fatty acids synthesizing more artery-narrowing triglycerides
  • Metabolic syndrome that increases the risk of liver and heart disease
  • The development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

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Reasons Why Ice Cream Is Bad for Your Heart

Ice cream is high in certain nutrients that aren’t particularly good for your heart health when consumed in excess. WebMD says ice cream is not good for your heart for the following reasons (10):

  • It contains too much sugar
  • It has too many calories
  • It’s high in saturated fat
  • It may contribute to weight gain and place more strain on your heart
  • It may increase triglycerides that narrow arteries and make the heart work harder

WebMD states that frozen yogurt, freshly made sorbet, or frozen fresh fruit bars are more heat-healthy (10). The British Heart Foundation also suggests foods that contain a lot of saturated fat may cause the following (12):

  • Increased non-HDL or bad cholesterol
  • Fatty deposits from the cholesterol clog your arteries
  • High blood pressure (11).

Reasons Why Ice Cream Is Good for You

The 10 reasons why ice cream is bad for you don’t mean you should never eat it again. Fortunately, ice cream also has some potential benefits:

  • It may contribute to bone health, as it contains approximately 100 mg of calcium per ½ cup serving (16, 9). An ice cream with 100 mg of calcium per ½ cup provides 10% of your daily calcium needs. 
  • No-added-sugar ice cream contains small amounts of other vital nutrients, such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, thiamin, and riboflavin (16). It also provides small amounts of vitamins A, B12, E, D2, and D3. 
  • A serving of ice cream may provide the fertility benefits of a high-fat dairy treat (21). Eating the occasional ½ cup of ice cream may decrease the risk of anovulatory infertility. 
  • The Rio Salado College suggests moderate ice cream intake may boost endorphins, such as dopamine (26). Eating ice cream can make you feel good by triggering the brain’s pleasure centers. 

Read more: Up for a Low-Carb Cool Down? Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Keto Ice Cream

What Is the Healthiest Ice Cream You Can Buy?

Nothing brings nostalgic summertime memories back better than an ice cream on a hot day. But how can you ensure you buy the healthiest ice cream? Firstly, you should avoid regular and premium ice creams, as they contain a lot of added sugar, saturated fat, and plenty of calories per ½ cup serving (24, 9). 

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Low-fat or no-added-sugar ice cream has fewer calories in ½ cup (14, 16). They also have less saturated fat, sugar, carbs, and cholesterol in comparison to premium or regular ice creams. However, portion control and moderation remain the key. Also, you can do more to find the healthiest ice cream in stores. 

Here’s how you can pick and include healthier ice cream in your diet (5):

  • Read the label and watch out for added sugars and saturated fat counts. No ice cream will be free from them, but some will have less than others.
  • Savor every mouthful of your single serving of ice cream mindfully. It’s a dessert you should enjoy as an occasional treat.
  • Stick to fruit and nut toppings on a single scoop. Fresh fruit is much healthier than adding cookie crumbs or chocolate toppings. 
  • Buy ice cream in single-portion containers to help you control how much you eat at once. 

Easy But Healthy Ice Cream Alternatives

Making a frozen dessert is easier than it sounds for a quick fix. Try these no-added-sugar ideas to make healthy alternatives you can enjoy guilt-free (18):

  • Frozen Greek yogurt with fruit pieces
  • Blended seasonal fruit popsicles
  • Frozen blended banana with fresh fruit and/or nuts

10 reasons why ice cream is bad for you  

For Healthier Options When You Crave Ice Cream:


  • Is ice cream bad for your blood pressure?

Ice cream has nutrients that may help your blood pressure, but some other ingredients may contribute to hypertension. University Health News suggests magnesium, potassium, and calcium are good for blood pressure (17). Ice cream is quite rich in calcium. 

Instead, Medicine Plus suggests a diet that is high in saturated fat and sodium can negatively impact your blood pressure (11). Ice cream has quite a lot of saturated fat and approximately 50 mg of sodium per ½ cup (9, 14). At the end of the day, it’s your overall diet that matters, not one meal or treat.

  • Does ice cream cause a blood sugar spike?

Most ice cream types will spike your blood sugar. The National Library of Medicine suggests that added sugar may spike your blood sugar (6). A ½ cup of premium ice cream contains 19 grams of sugar (9). A ½ cup of no-added-sugar ice cream still contains 4.39 grams of sugar(16).

  • What ice cream is heart-healthy?

WebMD suggests that sorbet, frozen yogurt, and fresh but frozen fruit bars are healthier for your heart (10). Ice cream that is high in saturated fat, added sugars, and calories could contribute to a diet that increases your risk of heart disease. 

  • Is it OK to eat ice cream every day?

Moderation probably doesn’t mean eating ice cream every day. The Baton Rouge Clinic doesn’t recommend eating ice cream daily (18). An unbalanced diet that is high in added sugars and unhealthy fats may lead to blood sugar spikes and weight gain, while also contributing to associated health problems. 

The Bottom Line

We have given you 10 reasons why ice cream is bad for you as well as outlining the potential benefits you may reap from the frozen dessert. You don’t need to avoid it completely, but moderation will help you enjoy ice cream occasionally when you’re following a balanced diet. Choose how often you want to enjoy the recommended portion as part of a healthy diet and stick to this plan to stay healthy. 


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 5 Foods to Avoid if You Have IBS (n.d.,
  2. Added Fructose in Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and in Metabolic Syndrome: A Narrative Review (2022,
  3. Added Sugar | The Nutrition Source (n.d.,
  4. Artificial Food Colors and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Symptoms: Conclusions to Dye For (2012,
  5. Avoid These Critical Mistakes When Eating Ice Cream (2023,
  6. Calories – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (2022,
  7. FDA Removes 7 Synthetic Flavoring Food Substances From Food Additives List (2018,
  8. Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated With Sleep Arousal and Slow-Wave Sleep (2016,
  9. Food Data Central Search Results (2019,
  10. Foods That Are Bad for Your Heart (2023,
  11. High Blood Pressure and Diet (2023,
  12. High Cholesterol: Symptoms, Causes, and Levels (n.d.,
  13. High-Fat Diet Exacerbates Early Psoriatic Skin Inflammation Independent of Obesity: Saturated Fatty Acids as Key Players (2018,
  14. [Historical Record]: Low-Fat Ice Cream (2019,
  15. How to Ease Brain Freeze (n.d.,
  16. Ice Creams, Vanilla, Light, No Sugar Added (2019,
  17. Is Ice Cream Bad for You? (2020,
  18. Is it Okay to Eat Ice Cream Every Day? (2021,
  19. Nutritional Recommendations for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention (2013,
  20. The 3 Worst Food Mistakes You Can Make for Your Skin (2017,
  21. The Fertility Diet: Groundbreaking Research Reveals Natural Ways to Boost Ovulation & Improve Your Chances of Getting Pregnant (2008,
  22. The Role of Carrageenan and Carboxymethylcellulose in the Development of Intestinal Inflammation (2017,
  23. Tooth Decay – NHS (2022,
  24. Vanilla Ice Cream (Branded, 450193) (2019,
  25. Want Healthy Skin? Limit These 5 Types of Food (2020,
  26. Wellness Wednesday: Should We All Scream for Ice Cream? (2023,
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