Slow-churned ice cream is dairy-based ice cream marketed as a healthier alternative to regular ice cream.
It is made with traditional ice cream ingredients including milk, cream and sugar, but is lower in total calories and fat due to its unique manufacturing process.
This article details what slow churning ice cream is, how it differs from regular ice cream, and its potential advantages and disadvantages.
Slow churning ice cream is created using a manufacturing process called low temperature extrusion.
The presence of fat generally influences the texture of foods, which contributes to satisfaction. The low temperature extrusion process helps recreate the experience of eating fattier ice cream without requiring additional fat to achieve the same result.
This sensation occurs because this technology uses an extremely low temperature combined with an extruder that agitates the ice cream mixture. The process stresses mixing, which greatly reduces the particle size of ice structures (1).
The reduced particle size is important because it helps recreate the creamy texture you expect from consuming dietary fat (2).
The end result of slow churning ice cream and its smaller particle size results in a creamy texture with the same mouthfeel as regular ice cream but up to half the fat (3).
Slow churning ice cream is made using a manufacturing process that reduces the size of ice cream particles. The result is ice cream that can contain up to half the fat of regular ice cream, but with the same creamy texture.
The difference between slow churning ice cream and regular ice cream comes down to how the ice cream is processed and the final nutrient profile.
Although relatively similar, there are some important differences between the two varieties. Slow churned ice cream has fewer calories than regular ice cream, half the fat, and is slightly lower in cholesterol and sodium.
However, slow churned ice cream is slightly higher in added sugar.
Reducing total fat in foods often results in increasing the amount of sugar added to compensate for taste and texture. The result is a product that is lower in fat, higher in carbohydrates and sugar (6).
Slow churned ice cream contains fewer calories and fat than regular ice cream. However, it is often higher in added sugar to improve taste and texture.
Choosing slow churning ice cream has a few advantages, including its traditional ice cream flavor and lack of sugar substitutes compared to other low-fat options.
May taste similar to regular ice cream
Slow churned ice cream might be the best choice for you if you’re looking for dairy-based ice cream with less fat or calories than regular ice cream.
Since slow churning ice cream is created using traditional ice cream ingredients, you may find that the taste is closer to that of regular ice cream.
For some, that might be more appealing than consuming a plant-based alternative with a different flavor or texture than you’d expect from regular ice cream.
May be free of artificial sweeteners
Many slow-churning varieties don’t contain artificial sweeteners, which may be a better option than other low-calorie ice cream varieties if you have a digestive disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome. (7, 8).
Additionally, some people find the taste of artificial sweeteners unpleasant.
Finding ice cream that’s low in calories while avoiding artificial sweeteners is a bonus if you find you don’t enjoy the flavor of many sugar substitutes (9).
Slow churning ice cream is made from dairy, which might be more satisfying for those looking for the most authentic ice cream experience, but lower in calories and fat.
Slow churned ice cream has a traditional taste despite its reduced fat content. However, it is not without some disadvantages related to its sugar and calorie content.
May be higher in added sugar
Slow churning ice cream is marketed as a delicious ice cream with half the fat. But less fat does not mean less sugar.
Slow churning varieties of ice cream may be slightly higher in added sugar than regular ice cream. However, keep in mind that both regular ice cream and slow ice cream contain added sugar.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that no more than 10% of total calories come from added sugar.
Added sugar intake is of particular concern because it adds calories to the diet without any nutritional benefit, the so-called “empty calories”. Studies have linked many chronic diseases to eating too many empty calories, such as those from added sugar (ten, 11).
Studies have also shown that diets high in refined carbohydrates and added sugars are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, regardless of fat intake (12).
In fact, reducing saturated fat in the diet and replacing it with refined carbohydrates does not reduce the risk of heart disease, which contradicts what was once thought (12).
It is not a low calorie food
Slow-churned ice cream is marketed as a low-calorie, low-fat alternative to regular ice cream. That’s true by comparison, but slow-churning ice cream in and of itself isn’t a low-calorie food.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the term “low calorie” on food labels. It’s defined as having 40 calories or less per serving if the amount typically consumed is more than 50 grams (13).
In the case of ice cream, the amount typically eaten is 2/3 cup, which in the case of slow churning ice cream is about 80 grams (14).
As noted above, slow churning ice cream contains 140 calories per serving, more than three times what can be considered a low-calorie food by the FDA.
Regular and Slow Ice Cream is made with real dairy, which contains calcium, potassium and protein. However, its high fat and added sugar content makes it best served in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
May have differences in taste and texture
Finally, slow churned ice cream can differ in taste and texture from regular ice cream.
Despite the complicated manufacturing process used to recreate the creamy mouthfeel of fattier ice cream, its low fat content may still contribute to a texture that is not as desirable as regular ice cream.
Additionally, low fat may impact satisfaction, as research shows that dietary fat intake plays an important role in satiety (15).
Slow churned ice cream and regular ice cream contain added sugar and are not low calorie foods. Therefore, you might want to consider whether you like to eat slow ice cream or regular ice cream.
Remember that you can eat ice cream in moderation as part of a healthy diet, so choose ice cream that you actually enjoy eating.
Choosing slow churning ice cream may mean eating more added sugar than regular ice cream, but both varieties contain added sugar and neither is low in calories. Ice cream can be a pleasant treat eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
Ice cream is a classic dessert with a seemingly limitless number of flavors and ingredients.
Slow churning ice cream may be for you if you’re looking for low-calorie, low-fat dairy-based ice cream. However, if you prefer to enjoy regular ice cream, keep in mind that a healthy diet can include the occasional dessert.
The most important thing is to choose an ice cream that you really like to eat, even if it is high in calories and fat.