Chocolate ice cream does provide some essential nutrients -- such as calcium and potassium. But it’s also high in sugar, saturated fat and calories, so eat it only in moderation -- or avoid it entirely -- if you want to maintain a healthy body weight. Choosing light ice cream or frozen yogurt instead of regular chocolate ice cream will help reduce your overall calorie intake.
Calories in Ice Cream
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, 1 cup of chocolate ice cream contains about 286 calories. Of those total calories, 134 of them – equivalent to 33.6 grams – are from sugar. The same cup of chocolate ice cream provides about 2.5 grams of dietary protein, 7.3 grams of fat – the majority of the fat in ice cream is not-so-healthy saturated fat – and 18.6 grams of total carbohydrates.
Chocolate Vs. Other Flavors
Chocolate ice cream does contain slightly more calories than vanilla and strawberry ice cream. But switching from chocolate to another flavor of ice cream won’t significantly reduce your overall calorie intake. For example, 1 cup of vanilla ice cream contains about 274 calories, and 1 cup of strawberry ice cream provides about 254 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Check the "Nutrition Facts" label on your favorite flavored ice cream to determine the specific number of calories in it -- since the calorie content of ice cream varies by brand.
If you love the taste of ice cream but prefer fewer calories, consider lower-calorie alternatives. Examples include light, no-sugar-added chocolate ice cream -- which contains 250 calories per cup -- or chocolate frozen yogurt, containing just 221 calories per cup. If you’re seeking healthier, lower-calorie options, try frozen, low-fat yogurt confections made with fruit juice or protein-fruit smoothies made with fresh fruit and low-fat milk or yogurt.
Because chocolate ice cream is high in sugar and saturated fat, the calories in it are classified as discretionary calories when planning healthy menus. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, your maximum daily allotment of discretionary calories – from saturated fat and added sugars – is 121 calories when consuming 1,600 calories daily, 258 calories when eating 2,000 calories a day and 330 calories when following a 2,400-calorie meal plan. Because 1 cup of regular chocolate ice cream contains 286 calories, it exceeds the daily discretionary calorie allowance for 1,600- and 2,000-calorie meal plans.