There’s nothing like a refreshing scoop of rocky road or very berry strawberry on a hot summer day – but if you’re very health conscious, you might pass on ice cream no matter the season. Well, what if we told you it isn’t so bad for you after all? In fact, if eaten in moderation, ice cream has some surprising health benefits. We’ve got the scoop on five reasons to treat yourself.
1. It may help you lose weight.
If you avoid ice cream because you don’t want to gain weight, this might just change your mind: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who ate at least one daily serving of full-fat dairy products, such as ice cream, gained less weight than those who didn’t. Now, that doesn’t mean you can sit down with a tub of ice cream every night and expect to lose weight. But a half-cup serving of vanilla or chocolate ice cream – which has about 140 calories, 7g fat and 14g sugar – can be a reasonable part of your diet. (Slow-churned is a bit healthier.) Wondering if frozen yogurt is a smarter choice than regular ice cream? Watch this video with registered dietitian Samantha Heller to find out.
2. It may help fight infertility.
Here’s a reason women may want to indulge in ice cream: A Harvard study published in the journal Human Reproduction suggests that consuming full-fat milk or ice cream may improve your chances of having a baby. The study looked at the eating habits of more than 18,000 women between the ages of 24 and 42. Women who ate full-fat ice cream two or more times a week had a 38% lower risk of ovulation-related infertility than women who had full-fat ice cream less than once a week.
3. It has important nutrients.
There is no denying that ice cream isn’t exactly a health food. Its main ingredients are cream, milk, sugar and flavoring. That being said, ice cream does provide your body with a handful of key nutrients, including bone-strengthening calcium and phosphorus, blood-pressure-lowering potassium and energizing B vitamins. It also provides a decent amount of protein, which is important in tissue repair and cell growth.
4. It makes you smile.
Wonder why you feel so good every time you take a lick of ice cream? It’s not just because it tastes delicious. One study found that a spoonful of the cold stuff actually makes you happy. Researchers out of the Institute of Psychiatry in London tracked the brain activity of people eating vanilla ice cream. As soon as the participants swallowed ice cream, they saw an immediate effect on an area of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex, a pleasure center that activates when people enjoy themselves.
5. It may boost your sex drive.
Need some help between the sheets? Ice cream may be your answer. That’s because it has fairly high levels of calcium and phosphorus, both of which help build your muscles’ energy reserves and boost your libido. If you’re a woman, you may want to choose vanilla over other flavors. A study out of Chicago’s Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation found that when men smelled the scent of vanilla it increased their arousal.