Nothing beats a cool ice-block on a hot summer’s day but before you open that freezer door, it’s worth considering your options.
Kiwis are great fans of ice cream and ice-blocks in summer: we’re among the highest consumers of ice cream in the world. And like most treat foods these days, singular ice creams are now available in super-sized portions, super-indulgent varieties and we can buy them 24/7. While tempting and readily available, ice creams are potentially a recipe for weight gain and/or clogged arteries so discretion is key.
What’s in ice-blocks?
Ice cream or fruit juice are often the base for our ice-blocks but there are numerous variations.
For ice-cream based ice-blocks, we prefer those that use low-fat milk to reduce the amount of saturated fat. It may not seem as important when we’re having a treat but if there is a reduced-fat option for dairy products, we are always better off choosing that. And the more often we indulge, the more important this becomes.
Yoghurt ice-cream may sound healthier than regular ice-cream, but that’s not necessarily the case: yoghurt can also be high or low in saturated fat. And remember: frozen yoghurt is not just standard yoghurt in a frozen form — it’s usually higher in sugar.
Chocolate, another favourite dairy product, adds both energy and saturated fat to ice-blocks.
When comparing dairy-based ice-blocks, you don’t need to read all the ingredients — the energy and saturated fat information will help decide which is better for you.
Nutritionally, dairy-based ice- blocks will contain a little protein and varying amounts of calcium.
Fruit / fruit juice
Ice-blocks containing ‘real fruit juice’ range from less than ten per cent fruit juice to 100 per cent fruit juice. If you want to consider this one of your fruit serves, make sure the ice-block is near to 100 per cent fruit juice. In this case it will have a range of nutrients from fruit, although not all the nutrients we get from whole fruit.
The products we recommend are lower in sugar per serve largely because they are all small portions. While these will contain natural sugars from fruit and milk, as well as added sugar for most of them, our bodies treat all sugars in a similar way. So remember: ice-blocks and ice creams are sweet treats. While we all love sweetness, it’s a good idea to moderate how big a proportion of our diet is from sweet foods.
A new twist on the traditional ice-block is using brewed tea with sugar and fruit juice added.
What’s the big deal about size?
We all know size matters — especially when having a treat. Consider: while a large 97g Memphis Meltdown Big Hokey has 1460kJ and 11.9g saturated fat, the 49g mini version with 792kJ and 6.6g saturated fat. While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend either — there are delicious options with much less saturated fat — it is obviously a big saving in both kilojoules and saturated fat if we choose the smaller option. Just don’t tell yourself it’s small. Make your choice between the ‘oversized’ ice-block or the ‘regular size’.