The scoop on frozen desserts

Jun 19, 2008 at 10:53 a.m. ET

Nothing beats a sweet and cool treat on a hot summer day. But if you're watching your weight, these indulgences can pack on unwanted calories and pounds. So what's the best option when it comes to icy treats? Here's the scoop on your favorite frozen desserts and how they stack up against each other.

Woman with Blue Ice Pop


Fudgesicles: Have a sweet tooth? Good news! You can satisfy your need for sweets without the guilt by snacking on one of these creamy treats on a stick. At about 40 to 100 calories per serving, they are a dieter's dream (you can even go for seconds!). For fewer calories and less fat, stock up on the sugar-free versions, like Popsicle's No Sugar Added Fudgsicle Pops.

Frozen Fruit Bars: Not so much of a chocoholic? Fruit bars made from natural ingredients (and little added sugar) are a sinless, nonfat sweet you can enjoy on a daily basis. Choose from flavors like lemon, lime, strawberry, and raspberry and consume only 50 to 80 calories (or just 30 if you opt for a sugar-free product). Pick up Edy's Frozen Fruit Bars or whip up your own made of a selection of succulent summery fruits.


Sorbet: Smooth and fruity, this water-based treat is light and refreshing. Made from real fruit and natural flavors, sorbet ranks a close second to frozen fruit bars with about 120 calories and zero fat per serving.

Frozen Yogurt and Soft-serve Ice Cream: Go ahead, lick that cone. After all, with just 140 calories per serving, soft serve or fro-yo are fabulous substitutes for traditional ice cream. Each treat contains under five grams of fat per serving (or you can always opt for fat-free fro-yo). Just note that if you add extras, consider your calorie count - even just a smattering of sprinkles tack on an extra 70 calories, while a generous drizzle of hot fudge packs a wallop with 130 calories.


Gelato: The rumor is that this creamy concoction hailing from Italy is a much healthier option than American ice cream. The real scoop? While gelato does contain less whipping cream (and therefore less fat) than traditional ice cream, the added sugar and flavors contribute calories, and plenty of them. In fact, one cup of gelato contains about 500 calories, which is right on par with ice cream. However, some fruit gelato contains zero fat and fewer calories, so try a spoonful of that for a healthier bite.

So, if you go for gelato or splurge on a bowl of the real-deal ice cream, watch your portions (try one scoop instead of three), go for simple flavors (vanilla or chocolate instead of Chubby Hubby or cookie dough) and look for low-fat options like the "slow-churned" variety of ice cream. A one-half cup serving of Edy's or Dreyer's Slow-Churned Chocolate Fudge Chunk has just 120 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

Feeling crafty? Check out these cool and refresingly sweet ideas for quick and healthy desserts.