Rita's isn't your typical ice cream parlor. Instead of serving up scoops of traditional ice cream, Rita's sells Italian ices and custard. The parlor also offers a wide selection of milkshakes and ice cream, plus a variety of toppings. Lemonade, cookies and cake round out Rita's menu. The company's signature product, however, remains the Italian ice, which comes in regular, creamy and sugar-free versions.
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Regular Italian Ice
Classic Italian ice at Rita's comes in a wide variety of flavors, including cotton candy, blueberry, guava, chocolate, key lime, pina colada and wild black cherry. No matter what flavor you order, you'll eat a large amount of added sugar, as well as a good number of calories. The regular-size chocolate Italian ice, for example, contains 380 calories and 94 grams of sugar, equal to almost 24 teaspoons of sugar. That's much more than the 6 teaspoons of sugar women should limit themselves to each day and the 9-teaspoon daily limit for men. The passion fruit has 89 grams of sugar, and the strawberry lemonade has 71 grams. In fact, most of the flavors have between 70 and 90 grams of added sugar in the regular size. The regular Italian ices do offer a little vitamin C.
Cream Italian Ice
The Italian cream ices at Rita's are similar to traditional ice cream, which means you'll consume more fat with them than the regular ices. The Birthday Cake cream ice, for example, contains 44 grams of sugar, as well as 4.5 grams of saturated fat. Too much saturated fat increases your risk of heart disease. The S'mores cream ice contains 98 grams of sugar, as well as 4.5 grams of saturated fat. The Cookies and Cream has 113 grams of sugar, but it has slightly less saturated fat with 4 grams. Some cream ices also contain small amounts of bone-building calcium.
Rita's offers some flavors, including cherry, chocolate, pineapple, pink lemonade and tangerine, in a sugar-free version. These selections are much lower in calories, averaging between 130 and 160 in a regular-sized ice, compared to the 300 or more in the traditional ices. They don't contain any added sugar, which makes them a healthier option for individuals who don't want or can't have that much sugar.
Making Your Choice
An occasional ice at Rita's probably won't blow your diet, but there are steps you can take to make your treat a bit healthier. Order a kid's size of the regular or cream ice as one way to cut your calorie, fat and added sugar intake. Opting for the kid's size will cut at least 100 calories and 20 or more grams of added sugar from your sweet splurge. If you're watching your fat intake, most of the regular ices are fat-free, making them slightly better than the cream ices. You might also consider ordering a kid's size and sharing it with a friend. You'll still get to indulge in the taste you want without going overboard on the sugar.