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Is Ice Cream Actually a Healthy Food Choice?

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Various studies over several decades have shown that ice cream has potential health benefits, although the fact that it is rich in saturated fat makes this conclusion ironic to many.

Five years ago, a Harvard University graduate student conducted a study in which he came to an unexpected conclusion: eating half a cup (64 g) of ice cream a day is associated with a lower risk of heart disease in diabetics.

But as exciting as it sounds to those who love to indulge in a bowl of ice cream, when the researchers took a closer look at the study, they found that the link was likely caused by a variety of other factors.

The 2018 study and scientific review of its findings were conducted by researchers at Harvard University between 1976 and 1986 and spanned nearly 20 years.

The purpose of these studies was to track participants’ health over a long period of time and determine if there were links between specific diseases and lifestyle factors (such as diet).

For their analysis, the researchers only included data from participants in the two studies who reported having type 2 diabetes at the start of the studies, a total of about 16,000 people.

Participants with diabetes provided information about the foods they typically ate during the previous year. They were never asked to eat or avoid ice cream.

The researchers found that those who ate ice cream more than twice a week were 12% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than those who did not eat ice cream.

But it’s important to know that this link between ice cream and heart disease only becomes apparent when other aspects of a person’s health are taken into account, including how healthy they are eating.

This suggests that an overall healthy diet may be more important than eating ice cream in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

It’s important to clarify that this was an observational study, which means it can only show an association between ice cream consumption and a reduced risk of heart disease. It’s actually impossible to prove that eating ice cream alone directly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

Clinical trials are needed to confirm whether ice cream affects the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Can ice cream be helpful?

Surprisingly, there haven’t been many studies looking at the specific health effects of ice cream. And in the studies that have been done, participants typically consumed very small amounts (about less than a quarter of a serving per day), meaning that they are not enough to draw any meaningful conclusions about its effect.

But one Italian study found that eating more ice cream may be associated with an increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and heart disease).

However, the researchers also found that this association also exists for other foods, such as red meat, suggesting that the quality of a person’s overall diet may be more important to health than a particular food.

Ice cream is also a highly processed food, meaning that due to the processing methods used to create it, it is usually high in calories, fat, and sugar.

And over-processed foods have been linked to a number of health problems, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Because of this, nutritional advice also encourages us to limit our intake of sugar and fat. This makes it very likely that eating too much ice cream will have negative health effects.

But that might not be such a bad thing if you like dairy in general, as the data on the potential benefits of dairy fat has increased over the past 20 years, and studies have shown that fermented dairy products, such as some types of yogurt and cheese, are in particular, it may reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

More research will be needed to see if ice cream is associated with similar benefits due to its milk fat content.

And while it can be interesting to see headlines claiming that our favorite foods may have unexpected health benefits, it’s important to analyze the results. Often the effect of food can be exaggerated due to errors in the research method or other factors such as the participant’s diet or lifestyle.

At this point, we don’t have enough hard evidence that ice cream is definitely healthy. But two small meals a week, combined with a healthy diet and exercise, are unlikely to do much harm.

Source: Medical Express

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