A cold soft serve ice cream cone is a harbinger of summer and comes in a variety of flavors, from the traditional chocolate and vanilla (or a combination) to fruit blends. Total soft serve ice cream calories depend on the type of cone — cake or waffle — and can range from 207 calories upward.
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A vanilla or chocolate soft serve ice cream in a traditional cake cone comes in at 207 calories, according to USDA FoodData Central. If you choose a waffle cone, your ice cream cone calories will total 312.
Ice Cream Cone Calories
The breakdown for soft serve ice cream calories is 191 calories for a half-cup serving of chocolate. Vanilla soft serve calories — specifically the French vanilla flavor — is also 191 calories for a half-cup serving, the USDA reports. A cake cone is 16 calories, whereas a waffle cone is 121 calories, according to the USDA.
Based on a half-cup portion, there are 18 grams of sugar in both chocolate and French vanilla soft serve ice cream. Add an additional 0.24 grams of sugar for a cake cone and 1.75 grams of sugar for a waffle cone, and you're consuming almost 20 grams of sugar each time you eat a soft serve ice cream cone.
Sugars can occur naturally in foods — such as in fruit and milk — or they are put in foods during preparation, processing or even at the table such as in your morning cup of coffee or tea. These types of sugars are considered to be added sugars. Major sources of added sugars are soft drinks, fruit drinks, alcoholic beverages, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy and most processed foods. They can also be present in soups, bread, cured meats and ketchup.
Based on a 1,200 to 1,800 daily calorie intake eating pattern, the maximum amount of daily added sugars as per the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans should be less than 10 percent of calories consumed — and in general added-sugar intake should be less than 10 percent of daily calories regardless of total caloric intake.
Added sugars account, on average, for almost 270 calories, or more than 13 percent of calories per day in the U.S. population, the Dietary Guidelines reports.
Dangers of Added Sugar
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume; for most American women this means no more than 100 calories per day should come from added sugar (about 6 teaspoons of sugar). For men, it's 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons.
An April 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed an association between a high-sugar diet and a greater risk of dying from heart disease. Over the course of the 15-year study, people who got 17 percent to 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8 percent of their calories as added sugar.
There are four calories in one gram, the AHA notes. In terms of a soft serve ice cream cone calories, you're consuming about 80 calories just from the sugar alone, not counting the other ingredients.
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health cautions that there's no nutritional need or benefit that comes from eating added sugar and recommends skipping foods that list "sugar" as the first or second ingredient. But the use of alternative sweeteners can make it difficult to determine which ingredients count as sugar because there are multiple sources of sugar with different names.
The body metabolizes all added sugars the same way and does not distinguish between them — brown sugar, cane sugar, honey and maple syrup all count as added sugars. To cut down on your sugar intake, carefully read the nutrition label on a product and identify all the sources of added sugars so you can keep track of how much you're eating.
- USDA FoodData Central: "Ice Cream, Soft Serve, Chocolate"
- USDA FoodData Central: " Ice Creams, French Vanilla, Soft-Serve"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cookie, Cone Shell, Ice Cream Type, Wafer or Cake"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020"
- American Heart Association: "Added Sugar"
- JAMA Internal Medicine: "Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among U.S. Adults"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Sweet Danger of Sugar"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Added Sugar"