Ice cream tends to be a sweet treat, one that is often loaded with calories, sugar and artificial flavorings. As a result, ice cream from the store is rarely ever healthy.
But, one cardiologist in Rome aims to change all of that. Professor Valerio Sanguigni recently developed (and patented) an antioxidant-rich ice cream, specifically designed to promote health outcomes.
What’s even more exciting is that the ice cream actually did improve health. His research creates the possibility for ice cream that is actually good for you.
The Underlying Theories
How do you make healthy ice cream?
In this case, Professor Sanguigni wasn’t focused on the actual recipe for the ice cream. Instead, he added ingredients. In particular, the antioxidant-rich ice cream contained dark cocoa powder, hazelnut and green tea extract.
Each of these ingredients is significant for health, especially in relation to oxidation.
When it comes to health, the term antioxidant has become incredibly popular. Basically, it refers to a compound that has the ability to reduce oxidation in the body. Many popular superfoods have antioxidant properties, which is also a key reason why they are relied on so heavily.
Antioxidants work to reduce oxidative stress and oxidation. You can find a detailed discussion of how this works at the site Authority Nutrition, if you want to learn more.
But, the basic situation is that excessive oxidation can promote the development of disease, while consuming sufficient antioxidants helps to improve health and reduce disease risk. For example, oxidative stress is linked to the development of cancer (1).
However, to do this, you should be taking in antioxidants as part of your diet – not in supplement form. Some research even suggests that antioxidant supplements may increase the risk of death, rather than lower it (2,3).
This pattern makes it critical to get enough antioxidants from our food. But, many of us don’t. In fact, coffee is the main source of antioxidants for many people, simply because of how often we drink it (4).
At the same time, many foods that are high in antioxidants also have other health benefits and contain powerful nutrients (5). For example, the ice cream we’re talking about used dark cocoa powder, green tea extract and hazelnuts.
Well, there has been considerable research into the health benefits of dark chocolate and these benefits are directly associated with the compounds in cocoa, particularly the polyphenols and flavanols.
This pattern is also why some brands have been focusing on producing cocoa that is high in these compounds (such as CocoaVia).
Likewise, green tea is an exceptionally healthy drink, offering a range of powerful bioactive compounds (6). There is some debate about how many of these benefits are present in green tea extract but it is likely that many carry over. In fact, the extract may offer a more concentrated source of some green tea compounds.
The Research Study
As the above section shows, there is strong support for the idea of an antioxidant ice cream and its potential to promote health. Likewise, the chosen ingredients are also associated with benefits of their own.
But, how does the ice cream perform in practice?
Thus far, there has only been one pilot study on the topic, involving just 14 participants. Those 14 people were broken into two groups. One of those (the control group) was given 100 g of milk chocolate ice cream, while the other received 100 g of the antioxidant ice cream.
Metabolic outcomes for the participants were then examined immediately after consumption and again two hours later.
Participants also underwent an exercise stress test three days before the study and again around three hours after ice cream consumption.
The authors found that consumption of the antioxidant ice cream significantly reduced oxidative stress, while improving physical performance and vascular function.
Even though this is just a single study, it does reinforce the concept that an antioxidant-rich ice cream can promote overall health.
Making Your Own Antioxidant Ice Cream
Healthy ice cream sounds great – but it isn’t something that you can buy at the store.
Additionally, the ice cream in this study had limitations too.
In particular, it was basically regular ice cream that had antioxidant-containing ingredients added.
For many people, that pattern won’t be desirable. After all, ice cream does contain a range of added ingredients. Plus, it is fairly high in sugar. That aspect alone makes ice cream a poor choice for anybody on a keto or low carb diet, along with people trying to cut down sugar intake.
The alternative is to make your own.
Doing so would let you end up with healthy ice cream that fits in with your own needs and preferences. Besides, there is no shortage of antioxidant rich ingredients that you could include.
For example, you could use unsweetened Cocoa Via as an ingredient if you wanted the additional flavanols or you could turn to organic cacao powder, like the one in the image below.
There are also many antioxidant smoothie mixes that could easily be included as an ingredient in ice cream. You may also choose to include antioxidant ingredients as toppings, such as dark chocolate or pomegranate arils.
As you can see, there is no shortage of options.
But, what about the ice cream?
As I mentioned before, you may not want to use regular ice cream as a base. In fact, doing so could be somewhat counterproductive. Thankfully, there are many alternatives.
A good place to start is the blog All Day I Dream About Food. The author has a list of low carb ice cream recipes. These come in a range of different flavors and styles, meaning you’re bound to find one (or more) that is perfectly suited to you.
Likewise, there is a great recipe for no-churn vanilla ice cream on the site KetoDiet Blog. In this case, the ice cream is suitable for the keto diet and also for anyone following a primal diet (like paleo).
Many of these alternative ice cream recipes are great options for including other healthy ingredients in your diet. For example, some will rely on avocado or coconut milk, along with spices like cinnamon and ginger.
To get the most benefits, you could also choose one of these recipes (or another one) and add in extra antioxidant ingredients. Green tea extract and cocoa powder are both great ways to do so. You can also use powdered matcha tea, like in the image below.
Want to Improve Your Health?
Better health starts in the kitchen, with the food that you eat and the meals you prepare. Getting the best outcomes involves making good choices about the food and the ingredients that you use.
Check out my recommended products to see where you can get started.