Gelato vs. Ice Cream: Which is Healthier?

The classic answer to this question is, of course, ice cream. Recently however, many people have been substituting this traditional dessert with an alternative that is similar, but not quite the same: gelato.

In short, gelato is a frozen desert of Italian origin. In Australia, it is often grouped in with ice cream, so it can be very hard to distinguish the two from each other. In terms of ingredients, gelato will sometimes have less milk fat (also known as butterfat) than ice cream. If you want to be technical, ice cream in Australia is defined as having to have over 10% butterfat content, and thus this definition would include products most Italians would distinctly call gelato. Specificity of definitions aren’t important, however; what’s important is which you want to eat.Ice Cream

Recently, gelato has increased in popularity because it is thought to be healthier than ice cream. As previously mentioned, a lot of the time gelato will tend to have a lower amount of milk fat, and therefore usually a lower total fat content. However, there is a trade off. Both ice cream and gelato use sugar to, in the simplest of terms, act as antifreeze to keep the dessert from freezing solid. However, gelato tends to contain around 15-25% sugar, whereas ice cream will usually only contain 10-15%. Thus if you’re worried about health value, the important question as far as gelato and ice cream go is really whether you want to be eating more sugar or more fat.

The general consensus currently seems to be that despite the fact that gelato has higher sugar content than ice cream, it is the healthier option. This is for a few reasons. Firstly, compared to the higher fat content in ice cream, gelato and its high sugar content will tend to have fewer calories, so the amount you can eat without overeating tends to be higher (always a plus with desserts). This is also helped by the fact that gelato tends to be less dense than ice cream, so you can eat the same volume (and enjoy yourself just as much) without actually eating as much of it. Secondly, while a high sugar content may seem like a daunting prospect, especially with diseases like diabetes constantly on the rise, it’s important to remember that it’s only the concentration of sugar that’s higher in gelato; since gelato is less dense, often the same volume of gelato will have the same quantity of sugar as a similar volume of ice cream.

Though you may never have heard of gelato before, it’s definitely worth looking into as a substitute for your ice cream fix this summer.