TUCSON, Ariz. - Consumer Reports tested 13 frozen vanilla-flavored treats, including light and low-fat ice creams, frozen yogurts and non-dairy frozen desserts, for taste, texture and nutrition.
“To achieve the taste and texture of regular ice cream, these lighter ice creams have a lot of additives - like gums, sugar substitutes, protein concentrates, and even added fiber," says Consumer Reports Nutritionist, Amy Keating.
CR testers tried two of best-selling brand Halo Top’s offerings. The Vanilla Bean Light Ice Cream got “very good” marks for taste, with moderate vanilla flavor butterscotch and eggy notes. Testers found the texture slightly icy. But, Halo Top’s Vanilla Maple Dairy Free Frozen Dessert landed near the bottom of the ratings, due to a bitter aftertaste and chalky mouth feel. Halo Top, like several other brands, lists calories per pint on the front label.
“Just because you can eat the whole pint doesn't mean you should. It distorts your idea of what a reasonable portion is," says Keating.
Here are two picks from Consumer Reports testers: Stonyfield Organic Frozen Nonfat Yogurt got “very good” marks for nutrition. It contains live and active cultures and is one of two frozen yogurts that scored near the top of the ratings. And Consumer Reports recommends Blue Bunny’s Vanilla Bean Frozen Yogurt. It got “very good” marks for taste and nutrition. Testers note its distinct vanilla flavor, and creamy texture.
Also, if you’re vegan or have trouble digesting dairy, CR checked out some vegan frozen desserts that use coconut milk rather than dairy. They’re a great substitution for ice cream, but they are not healthier because like cow’s milk, coconut milk is high in saturated fat.