Is Ice Cream Sandwich healthy?

Ice cream sandwiches are a beloved frozen treat consisting of ice cream nestled between two cookies or slices of cake. With their delicious taste and nostalgic vibe, ice cream sandwiches seem like an indulgence. But are they a nutritious choice or should they be considered more of a dessert? Here’s a comprehensive look at the nutritional profile of ice cream sandwiches to determine if they can be part of a healthy diet.

What are the ingredients in an ice cream sandwich?

Ice cream sandwiches are composed of three main components:

Ice Cream

The ice cream filling contains ingredients like milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, and flavorings. The specific ingredients vary based on the type of ice cream used, but most ice cream is high in fat from ingredients like cream and full-fat milk. It also contains a significant amount of added sugar.


The cookie or cake layers also have variable ingredients depending on the specific recipe. Most recipes call for refined flour, butter, eggs, sugar, leavening agents like baking powder or soda, salt, extracts, and chocolate chips or other mix-ins. Like ice cream, cookies and cakes are high in fat, especially saturated fat, and added sugars.


Some ice cream sandwiches have additional coatings like chocolate, caramel, or candy sprinkles which add even more sugar and fat.

Nutritional Profile of Ice Cream Sandwiches

The nutrition of ice cream sandwiches can vary based on the specific brands and flavors. But in general, a 2.6oz ice cream sandwich contains approximately:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 280-350
Total Fat 12-16g
Saturated Fat 7-12g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 45-65mg
Sodium 130-220mg
Total Carbohydrates 36-44g
Dietary Fiber 0-2g
Total Sugars 24-36g
Added Sugars 22-34g
Protein 3-5g

As the table illustrates, ice cream sandwiches are high in calories, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates and added sugar. They contain minimal fiber or protein. The high levels of saturated fat, sodium, added sugars and low fiber content make ice cream sandwiches more of an occasional indulgence than a regular part of healthy diet.

Health Pros and Cons of Ice Cream Sandwiches

Below is a summary of some of the key health pros and cons associated with ice cream sandwiches:

Potential Pros

  • Provide calcium from dairy ingredients like milk and cream
  • Contain some beneficial nutrients like riboflavin, phosphorus and vitamin A from dairy ingredients
  • Can help address sweet cravings in moderation
  • Offer nostalgic satisfaction and taste appealing to many people

Potential Cons

  • High in calories, which can contribute to weight gain
  • High amounts of saturated fat from full-fat dairy and tropical oils in cookies/cakes can raise LDL cholesterol
  • Large amounts of added sugar exceed recommendations and provide empty calories
  • Minimal fiber and protein make them lacking in nutrients
  • Often contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
  • Sodium content contributes to total daily intake, which should be limited

The high calorie, fat, cholesterol and sugar content paired with low fiber and protein outweigh the small amounts of beneficial nutrients like calcium and vitamin A. The cons outweigh the pros when it comes to ice cream sandwiches and health.

Are Ice Cream Sandwiches Fattening?

With 280-350 calories and 12-16 grams of fat in a single serving, ice cream sandwiches are considered a high calorie and high fat food.

The majority of the fat comes from saturated fat, the kind that is most strongly linked to increased blood cholesterol levels. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fat to 5-6% of total daily calories, which is around 13 grams based on a 2000 calorie diet (1). A single ice cream sandwich therefore provides nearly an entire day’s worth of saturated fat.

Additionally, the high sugar load (24-36 grams per serving) provides excess calories without beneficial nutrients. Over time, the surplus calories from fat and added sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity.

So while the occasional ice cream sandwich won’t negatively affect weight, regular consumption as a snack or dessert choice can contribute to unwanted weight gain. Ice cream sandwiches should be considered an indulgence rather than an everyday food selection for those concerned about weight management.

Do Ice Cream Sandwiches Have Healthy Ingredients?

Ice cream sandwiches do contain some healthy ingredients, but they are minimal compared to the unhealthy ingredients.

Here are some of the potentially healthy ingredients, depending on the specific brand:


Milk provides protein, calcium, vitamin D and potassium. However, much of the milk content comes from full-fat milk or cream, which are high in saturated fat.

Wheat Flour

Most cookies and cakes contain refined wheat flour, which provides B vitamins and iron but has had the fiber removed during processing. Whole wheat flour would be a healthier choice.


Cocoa provides flavonoids with antioxidant properties. But most ice cream sandwiches contain only small amounts of cocoa powder.


Eggs provide protein and nutrients like selenium and vitamin A. But ice cream sandwiches typically only contain egg yolks, and in small amounts.


Some ice cream sandwiches feature fruit flavors, indicating the presence of a small amount of fruit puree. But the fruit content is negligible compared to the other ingredients.

While containing traces of beneficial ingredients like milk, eggs and cocoa, ice cream sandwiches’ healthy nutrient profile is minimal. The small amounts don’t outweigh the high quantities of fat, added sugar and calories.

Do Nutritionists Recommend Eating Ice Cream Sandwiches?

Most nutrition experts classify ice cream sandwiches as an unhealthy food that should only be eaten occasionally in small portions, not as a regular snack or dessert choice. A registered dietitian explains:

“With their high sugar and saturated fat content, ice cream sandwiches are considered more of a treat than a nutritious food. While eating an occasional ice cream sandwich is perfectly fine, I would not recommend making them a daily snack. They contain empty calories and lack nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber. I suggest limiting portions to one small sandwich once or twice a week at most.”

For those with health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity, nutritionists typically advise even more caution with ice cream sandwiches due to their impact on blood sugar and weight management. Children should also only consume ice cream sandwiches sporadically in age-appropriate portions.

Most experts agree moderation and portion control are key if consuming ice cream sandwiches. But their lack of nutrients should preclude them from being viewed as a healthy food choice.

Healthier Ice Cream Sandwich Alternatives

For those seeking the delicious ice cream sandwich experience in a healthier form, there are some better-for-you options to consider:

Substitute with lower fat ice cream

Choosing light or low-fat ice cream varieties removes some of the saturated fat in regular ice cream. Reduced fat options include sherbet, gelato, frozen yogurt and low-fat ice creams.

Use whole grain baked goods

Replacing refined flour cookies or cake with whole wheat flour or oatmeal varieties adds fiber, nutrients and protein while reducing the blood sugar impact.

Portion control

Stick to a single small ice cream sandwich at a time to control calories, fat and sugar intake. Avoid jumbo or triple-decker varieties.

Fruit additions

Make ice cream sandwiches more nutrient-dense by adding banana slices, berries or other fruits between the ice cream and cookie layers.

Healthy toppings

Rather than candy or chocolate, sprinkle your ice cream sandwich with chopped nuts, coconut, seeds or granola to provide crunch and more fiber.

While still a treat, these adjustments create a more balanced ice cream sandwich that adds nutrients and reduces fat, sugar and calories compared to traditional versions. Moderation is still key.

The Final Verdict on Ice Cream Sandwiches and Health

When all aspects are considered, ice cream sandwiches are an unhealthy food choice lacking in beneficial nutrients and full of fat, sugar and calories. While occasional consumption in small portions is unlikely to negatively impact health, ice cream sandwiches should not be considered a healthy snack, dessert or regular part of a balanced diet.

Choosing healthier ingredients and watching portions can help reduce the health impacts of ice cream sandwiches. But limitations are still required, as the high calorie, saturated fat, sodium and sugar content outweigh any potential benefits. Those concerned with health, weight and chronic conditions should be especially cautious of overindulging.

In conclusion, ice cream sandwiches are best saved as an infrequent indulgence, not a nutritious diet food. While delicious, their low fiber and high fat, cholesterol, sugar and calorie profile make them more of a dessert than a health food. Care should be taken to consume ice cream sandwiches only occasionally and in small amounts as part of an overall balanced way of eating. Moderation and portion control are key to including these nostalgic treats as part of a healthy lifestyle.

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