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Sweet Truth on Sugar-Free Ice Cream

The heat of summer drives us to crave for something cool and refreshing. A tall glass of cold water will do, but then, there are times when we just crave for something that is altogether cool, sweet, and delectable like a scoop or two of ice cream.

Ice cream has long been a favorite treat, which, aside from being a refreshment, is also a comfort food that relieves us when we feel stressed out, or simply out of our league.

But then excessively giving into cravings, or eating too much of our favorite treat, may spell disaster, especially for diabetics who have to watch their sugar intake and maintain a proper blood sugar level.

Ice cream is a treat that contains both nutrients (such as protein and calcium from milk) and empty calories (from sugar and milk fats). It is basically made of cream, milk, sugar, and natural flavorings, and other contents that contain none or limited nutritional value (such as stabilizers, emulsifiers, and artificial flavorings and colorings). In her paper “Ice Cream—What’s in a Scoop?” Colorado State University researcher Pat Kendall said that ice cream, even the low-fat ones, contain relatively high caloric contents. For example, Ben and Jerry’s No Fat Vanilla Fudge contains 150 calories per half cup due to its high sugar content.

Diabetics are not generally forbidden from eating treats that contain sugar. However, they are advised to watch their sugar intake, and indulge on products or treats which are either low in or free of sugar. Some ice cream products that come sugar-free are already available in the market. One manufacturer who jumped into the healthy and sugar-free bandwagon is local ice cream maker Arce Dairy.

Arce Dairy began creating sugar-free ice cream in 2005. They first came up with the flavors vanilla, chocolate, and purple yam (ube). According to owner Rudy Arce, the idea of having sugar-free products has already been conceived sometime during the late 1990s.

“What made us decide to pursue sugar-free products is consistent customer demand. There have been people who were suggesting for us to make these kinds of products,” he said. “And when we tried creating these products, we offered them to doctors first and asked about its possibility as a healthier alternative to the traditional ice creams with high sugar content.”

Moreover, Arce explained that they use the artificial sweetener xylitol in all their sugar-free products, natural sugar substitute commonly found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables. Experts say that xylitol roughly is as sweet as sucrose with only two-thirds the food energy. Xylitol also has a very low glycemic index of 13, compared to glucose’s glycemic index of 100. Glycemic index is a measure of a food’s effects on blood sugar levels.

In fact, the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives confirmed in 1983 the fact already known by scientists that xylitol is a safe sweetener. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also explained that xylitol does not promote tooth decay. It minimizes plaque formation on teeth, and aids in the repair of damaged tooth enamel by increasing salivary flow.

According to Arce, they use fresh fruits in flavoring their ice cream—a process that is different from how other manufacturers make their ice cream. Aging is also another important process that Arce Dairy uses. Aging allows the milk fat to cool down and crystallize, providing the ice cream that improved and fine texture.

Currently, Arce Dairy produces seven flavors within their sugar-free line. These include Capuccino Lite, Cheese Lite, Double Choco Lite, Macapuno Lite, Mantecado Lite, Ube Lite, and Vanilla Lite.

Now, with these kinds of sugar-free products, both diabetics and health-conscious individuals have the freedom to give in to their cravings. But then again, people are still advised to be careful with their intake. Always remember, too much of anything (even the healthy stuff) ain’t always good!

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