Best & Worst Ice Cream in America

Indulgence. It's part of what makes life worth living--giving in to temptation, letting go of one's inhibitions. And one of our nation's favorite indulgences? A smooth, cold, creamy, delicious scoop of ice cream.

Ice cream is as American as apple pie (it's no wonder the two so often go hand-in-hand). Unfortunately, so is obesity--a 2009 report found that overweight and obesity rates have remained steady or increased in every single state of the nation over the last year. The good news is that you can help fight this epidemic without sacrificing life's small indulgent pleasures. That's the entire premise behind Eat This, Not That!

Here, you'll learn how to indulge more often but with less damage. The writers of Eat This, Not That! 2010 have uncovered the 7 worst ice creams in America. Avoid them and choose their equally delicious--but much healthier--counterparts, and you'll be able to indulge and enjoy while losing weight too! 

Worst Fruity Scoop 
Cold Stone Blueberry Muffin Ice Cream (Love It size)
530 calories
30 g fat (20 g saturated, 1 g trans)
52 g sugars

The Love It size at Cold Stone is about 8 ounces, which is equivalent to ordering two scoops at Baskin-Robbins or Ben & Jerry's. Order any ice cream in this size and you can expect to spoon down about a day's worth of saturated fat. One extra hint: Toppings can make or break an ice cream. Most of the cookies and candy bars at Cold Stone have between 100 and 200 calories per serving, so limit the indulgent toppings to Nilla Wafers and yellow cake. Fruits and nuts, of course, are always your safest bets.

Bonus tip: Cold Stone is no stranger to our list of the 15 Worst Desserts in America. See what other cold treat you should avoid!

Eat This Instead!
Tart and Tangy Yogurt (Love It size) topped with Yellow Cake and Blueberries
320 calories
2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
48 g sugars

Fattiest Scoop
Ben and Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream (1/2 cup)
340 calories
24 g fat (12 g saturated)
24 g sugars

There's only one peanut butter ice cream in the country with more calories than this one, and that's Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter. But as far as saturated fat goes, this one is the national loser. Luckily, one of the most popular flavors turns out to be one of the best on the menu. Just don't eat too much, or you might develop a gut like Jerry's!

Bonus tip: Not all desserts are huge dietary disasters. See what delicious postdinner delights made our list of the 39 Best Foods in America. These winners will surprise you--and keep you thin and healthy!

Eat This Instead!
Cherry Garcia Ice Cream (1/2 cup)
200 calories
11 g fat (8 g saturated)
20 g sugars


Worst Supermarket Scoop
Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream (1 scoop)
360 calories
24 g fat (11 g saturated)
24 g sugars

Still the single worst ice cream we've ever encountered. You'd have to chew your way through five Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to consume the amount of saturated fat in one scoop of this. On the flipside, while Haagen-Dazs's new Five line isn't quite lean, we applaud it nonetheless for its commitment to simple, timeless recipes. Every flavor has exactly five ingredients, which leaves no room for artificial coloring or cheap, corn-derived fillers. Hooray.

Bonus tip: Don't shy away from chocolate altogether. Cocoa packs serious health benefits--read about and other foods with super powers in 15 Foods that Cure.

Eat This Instead!
Five Brown Sugar Ice Cream (1 scoop)
230 calories
12 g fat (7 g saturated)
23 g sugars


Worst Malt
Dairy Queen Hot Fudge Malt (small)
700 calories
23 g fat (16 g saturated, 1 g trans)
85 g sugars

Drinkable ice cream is nearly as bad an idea as fried ice cream, but believe it or not, the former tends to be saddled with more sugar and more fat than the latter. You'd be wise to expunge shakes and malts from your list of acceptable desserts, and stick with a sundae instead. At 230 calories apiece, the best sundaes at DQ are the banana and pineapple flavors--but to quell a serious hankering for chocolate, try the Hot Fudge Sundae; it's one of the best you'll find anywhere.

Eat This Instead!
Hot Fudge Sundae (small)
300 calories
10 g fat (7 g saturated)
37 g sugars


Worst Sundae
Baskin-Robbins Oreo Outrageous Sundae
1,130 calories
55 g fat (27 g saturated, 1 g trans)
120 g sugars

Outrageous? That's an understatement. Cookie and candy-bar flavors reign supreme at Baskin-Robbins, and the results are almost always dismal--here it's a day and a half of saturated fat and 30 spoonfulls of sugar! If you must have a sundae, limit it to two scoops with a bit of hot fudge and chopped nuts--that'll run you about 550 calories. But your best bet at Baskin-Robbins is to stick to scoops to mitigate the damage of ice cream indulgences. Venture off into sundae and milkshake territory and you're likely to sacrifice at least half your daily calories in return. 

Eat This Instead!
Oreo Cookies 'n Cream Ice Cream (2 scoops) in a Cake Cone
365 calories
18 g fat (10 g saturated)
34 g sugars


Worst Shake
Cold Stone PB&C Shake (Gotta Have It size)
2,010 calories
131 g fat (68 g saturated, 2.5 g trans)
880 mg sodium
153 g sugars

There were dozens of contenders in line for this dishonorable distinction, but Cold Stone's PB&C is the only drink in America to stretch across the 2,000-calorie mark. The combination of peanut butter--good in small amounts, horrendous when liquefied in bathtub-size quantities--and chocolate ice cream outpaces even the worst cookie- and candy-strewn shakes that clutter Cold Stone's embarrassing shake menu. Suck this thing down and you've just blasted away a day's worth of calories, more than 3 days' worth of saturated fat, and almost as much sugar as an entire 15-ounce box of Chewy Chips Ahoy! cookies.

Eat This Instead!
Sinless Strawberry Bananza Smoothie (Love It size)
220 calories
1.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
34 g sugars


Worst Ice Cream Dessert
Outback Steakhouse Chocolate Thunder from Down Under
2,020 calories
88 g saturated fat
161 g carbohydrates

We'll concede that desserts are intended to be decadent, but there's a dramatic difference between indulgence and recklessness. Add one of these ice-cream-covered chocolate cinder blocks onto the end of one meal a week and you're looking at more than 2 extra pounds of body fat each month! Think that extra flab is just inconvenient? Actually, according to numerous studies, it increases your risk of developing a host of conditions from diabetes and high blood pressure to esophageal cancer. Some of those risks are magnified when you factor in the 4-1/2 days' worth of saturated fat gluing this thing together like toxic cement.
Eat This Instead: Truth is, Outback doesn't have one dessert under 700 calories. So unless you're splitting it with three other people, skip dessert at Outback altogether.
And for the best store-bought ice creams under 200 calories, along with more great tips delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for the FREE Eat This Not That newsletter!

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