These are two treats that everyone loves. But which is healthier? Let’s break it down.
1 THE MILKY WAY
Unlike ice cream, which uses mainly cream as the base, traditional Italian gelato uses fresh milk, reducing its overall fat content. “The target fat content of gelato is 7 per cent. Some cream may be required to achieve this ratio; a gelato with too little fat will hurt the teeth while you’re eating it,” says Simon Seah, managing director of Segafredo Zanetti Trattoria. However, not all gelatos are alike. “There are some brands that exceed 10 per cent fat, which makes it similar to ice cream,” says Jaclyn Reutens, clinical dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants. “So, where possible, consult the nutrition label before making a decision.”
2 NATURAL ADVANTAGES
Compared to ice cream, traditional gelatos may use fewer stabilisers, sweetening agents and binding agents, making it more wholesome,” says Jaclyn. “In this respect, gelato is better.” For traditional flavours of the dessert, such as hazelnut and pistachio, you’ll also stand to benefit from the variety of antioxidants, phytochemicals, essential minerals and additional protein these nuts provide, not to mention proven cholesterol-regulating benefits. “The nuts are added to the base in paste form with no extra sugar,” says Simon.
3 SWEET NOTHINGS
While gelato may, in general, be lower in calories and fat, some brands may go heavy on sugar, warns Jaclyn. This is especially true for fruit-based sorbet gelatos. If you’re looking to cut out fat altogether from your dessert, the option of these fat-free gelatos might seem appealing. But a look into its contents reveals otherwise. “Sorbet gelatos are a mixture of pureed fruits and sugar syrup,” states Jaclyn. The abundance of high-GI sugars in sorbet gelatos may thwart your diet plans and put the kilos back on instead. According to US food-science writer Harold McGee, sorbet gelatos may contain 10 per cent more sugar than gelatos and ice cream. Instead of resorting to a fruity delusion, focus on losing the toppings to minimise dessert-related guilt. “Addons such as chocolate syrup, caramel and sweets deliver about 50 to 100 calories per tablespoon. If you add two toppings, you can effectively double the calorie content of your dessert,” warns Jaclyn.
4 EAT IT RIGHT
For healthy males, limit the intake of gelato to a cup twice a week, sans toppings, recommends Jaclyn. (A cup equals two scoops, or 300 to 400 calories.) You’re also better off visiting a gelato store that produces the dessert fresh, such as Latte e Miele at The Grandstand or Segafredo Zanetti Trattoria at Robertson Quay, to make sure you’re getting an additive-free treat. “Gelato contains less air than ice cream, so the result is a denser, richer texture. Wellmade gelato should look dry, not glossy. Freshly made type should be creamy. If it’s already sandy in texture, the ingredients have separated,” says Simon.