Ice cream isn't the healthiest of foods, as it's high in fat and calories and low in vitamins and minerals. Although ice cream is not detrimental to everyone, it can be inappropriate if you have special dietary concerns related to blood pressure. Note that different brands of ice cream have different nutritional facts, so check product labels when available.
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Ice cream is high in calories; 1 cup of this frozen dessert provides 286 calories. That amount comprises 14 percent of the daily suggested intake of 2,000 calories. Eating one serving of ice cream alone won't make you overweight, but eating high-calorie foods makes weight management a challenge. Obesity is a risk factor for hypertension.
Ice cream is high in fat, with 14.5 g of total fat and 9 g of saturated fat in each cup. Your body does need some fat for optimal health, but the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends eating a diet low in saturated and total fat to help prevent high blood pressure. Thus, eating ice cream is not ideal if you're trying to keep your blood pressure in check.
Ice cream is very high in sugar; 1 cup provides 33.5 g. While sugar helps add flavor to foods, it's not helpful for your overall health, as it can lead to tooth decay and encourages weight gain. Additionally, research published in the April 2010 edition of "The Journal of the American Medical Association" found that a diet rich in sugar promotes increased cholesterol levels. Too much cholesterol in your blood leads to high blood pressure, increasing your risk for cardiovascular disease.
One nutrient with a major effect on blood pressure levels is sodium; too much sodium can increase your blood pressure. However, ice cream is low in sodium, with just 100 mg in 1 cup. That amount comprises just 4 percent of the daily suggested intake of 2,300 mg, so this aspect of ice cream isn't likely to affect your blood pressure.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, eating a diet rich in fiber can help you control your blood pressure. However, 1 cup of ice cream provides less than 2 g of fiber, so it's not a good source of this nutrient. If you're replacing fiber-rich foods in your diet with ice cream, your risk of high blood pressure increases.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Ice Creams, Chocolate
- PubMed Health; Hypertension; June 2011
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; What Is the DASH Eating Plan?; November 2010
- "The Journal of the American Medical Association"; Caloric Sweetener Consumption and Dyslipidemia Among US Adults; J.A. Welsh et al.; April 2010