Can ice cream be healthy?

Can ice cream be healthy?

Kevin Meza Achahue, Scientist - R&D Specialist at Bifidice. 3 minutes reading.

We all know how delicious eating ice cream can be, especially during hot summer days. For generations, we have associated the refreshing taste of ice cream with a positive experience, which could even have a real effect on the consumer's mood, at least according to some studies in psychology and physiology [1][2]. Despite that, a question that has not yet been fully resolved is whether ice creams can contribute to people's health or not. With arguments for and against, the debate is still ongoing. Let's explore some of these points and how food innovation is tipping the scales.

What do we know about “modern” ice cream? 

While ice creams are popular for their texture and flavor, as they are considered ultra-processed foods, meaning products that have undergone multiple industrial processes, they also tend to generate controversies due to their nutritional components. In many cases, and depending on how or who produces them, ice creams can have high levels of calories, sugar, and/or fat. Additionally, nutritional profiles are often subject to the brand, manufacturing recipes, quality, and flavor of the ice cream.

Depending on how or who produces them, ice creams can have high levels of calories, sugar, and/or fat

While there are low-fat options or those with "zero" added sugar available in the market, there is growing concern about the substitute ingredients necessary to preserve the organoleptic properties of ice creams like flavor and texture [3], such as artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, frequent consumption of some sweeteners has been associated with cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems, as well as negative metabolic impacts on health [4]. Nevertheless, in most cases, and considering that these are relatively new ingredients, the long-term effects of their consumption are unknown [5].

So, are there healthier alternatives to ice cream? 

Fortunately, there are ideas and developments in the market that aim towards more nutritious properties and health benefits for consumers. In general terms, ice creams made with natural fruits as a base tend to have greater benefits than those composed of synthetic ingredients for flavor [6]. Some of the reasons include the antioxidant properties of fruit extracts and the presence of prebiotics that can positively benefit the consumer's intestinal microbiota. Additionally, some ingredients that mimic the taste of fruits can lead to addictive eating behaviors, something that does not occur when consuming fruit-based ice creams [7].

Studies have shown that ice cream is an optimal carrier for probiotics

However, one of the most interesting food innovations is probably the integration of probiotics into ice cream formulations. Studies have shown that ice cream is an optimal carrier for probiotics as they manage to support the viability of probiotic strains during the production and storage of finished products [8][9]. Some probiotic ice creams developed on a smaller scale have achieved promising results, such as improving the digestive and immune system, inhibiting pathogens, and reducing inflammation factors [10].

Introducing Bifidice!

At Bifidice, we already have a probiotic ice cream product being marketed in Chile, with incredible results both from our customers and clinical research. Thanks to our stabilization method, we have managed to enhance the inclusion of strains in frozen matrices like ice creams, which allows for improved strain resistance against adverse conditions such as temperature and acidity.

We have managed to enhance the inclusion of strains in frozen matrices like ice creams

Our latest scientific publication demonstrates the ability of Bifidice ice cream, containing Bifidobacterium bifidum, to significantly reduce symptoms associated with lactose intolerance after daily consumption [11]. This is particularly important, as this characteristic often poses a significant limitation for a group of people with lactose intolerance. 

What are you waiting for? Join our movement to innovate in the food industry to improve the quality of life for millions of people.



[1] Linley, P. A., Dovey, H., de Bruin, E., Transler, C., Wilkinson, J., Maltby, J., & Hurling, R. (2013). Two simple, brief, naturalistic activities and their impact on positive affect: feeling grateful and eating ice cream. Psychology of Well-Being: Theory, Research and Practice, 3(6).

[2] Xu, Y., Hamid, N., Shepherd, D., Kantono, K., & Spence, C. (2019). Changes in flavour, emotion, and electrophysiological measurements when consuming chocolate ice cream in different eating environments. Food Quality and Preference, 77, 191-205.

[3] Muenprasitivej, N., Tao, R., Nardone, S. J., & Cho, S. (2022). The Effect of Steviol Glycosides on Sensory Properties and Acceptability of Ice Cream. Foods, 11(12), 1745.

[4] Lowe, D. (2013). Trouble With Erythritol. Diabetes and Obesity, Science. Retrieved from 

[5] Harvard T.H. Chan. (2023). Low-Calorie Sweeteners. The Nutrition Source. Retrieved from 

[6] Genovese, A., Balivo, A., Salvati, A., & Sacchi, R. (2022). Functional ice cream health benefits and sensory implications. Food Research International, 161, 111858.

[7] Cleveland Clinic. (2020, August 19). Yogurt, Vegan, Gelato, Sorbet? Your Best Frozen Ice Cream Alternatives. Health Essentials. Retrieved from

[8] Ghorbani, S., Shekarforoush, S. S., Niakousari, M., Gheisari, H. R., & Janipour, R. (2023). Formulation and assessing characteristics of probiotic ice cream fortified with free and encapsulated iron. Journal of Food Measurement and Characterization, 17(2023), 499–507.

[9] Mohammadi, R., Mortazavian, A. M., Khosrokhavar, R., & da Cruz, A. G. (2011). Probiotic ice cream: viability of probiotic bacteria and sensory properties. Annals of Microbiology, 61, 411–424. 

[10] Mahantesha, T., Reddy, K. M. P., Kumar, N. H. P., Nara, A., Ashwin, D., & Buddiga, V. (2015). Comparative study of probiotic ice cream and probiotic drink on salivary Streptococcus mutans levels in 6-12 years age group children. Journal of International Oral Health, 7(9), 47–50.  

[11] Aguilera, G., Cárcamo, C., Soto-Alarcón, S., & Gotteland, M. (2021). Improvement in lactose tolerance in hypolactasic subjects consuming ice creams with high or low concentrations of Bifidobacterium bifidum 900791. Foods, 10(10), 2468.

Back to blog