Is Gelato Healthier Than Ice Cream?

Is Gelato Healthier Than Ice Cream

During the summer months, you’re bound to see people buried deep in frozen, creamy desserts. From a distance, ice cream and gelato may appear the same, but they are very distinct.

You probably noticed that if you have ever eaten chocolate ice cream alongside chocolate gelato, the chocolate flavor comes through more strongly in the gelato.

Gelato is bolder because it contains less fat than ice cream. Unlike ice cream, these flavors are not as diluted and smoothed out. The gelato has a cleaner finish because of the absence of lingering flavors on the tongue.

How about the ingredients? They are similar, but do they affect your option? Let’s explore below.

Gelato vs. Ice Cream: Ingredients

Ice cream and gelato have the same three key ingredients – sugar, dairy, and air. What differentiates them is the proportion of the ingredients. A mixture of milk (or cream, or both) and sugar is pasteurized. A natural or artificial flavor is then added. Before freezing, the makers churn the mixture to incorporate the air.

As well as adding fat, egg yolks serve as a stabilizing agent. Guar gum, for example, is also sometimes used to stabilize commercial ice cream. Guar gum helps ice cream batter bind water and fat. Also, stabilizers prevent large ice crystals from building up in the batter, which kills the joy of eating ice cream.

Percentages of Ingredient

IngredientGelatoIce cream
Others Additives: 5%4%
Does Gelato Have Less Fat Than Ice Cream

Comparing How Gelato is Made vs. How Ice Cream is Made

Take two equal-sized scoops of gelato and ice cream and weigh them: the gelato weighs more. The difference lies in the creation process. Churning gives both desserts their signature fluffy texture and adds air to the mix. Unlike ice cream, Italians churn gelato slower, so the final product has less air, making it less dense. Gelato gives you more frozen, creamy goodness per bite. When making ice cream or gelato, the overrun is how much air they inject into the product. Compared to ice cream, gelato has lower overrun.

Fast churning produces a lot of air, so ice cream is thick. Thus, as they make it, ice cream increases in volume. Ice cream contains more air than gelato and more cream, which means it’s higher in fat. Galeterias rarely include egg yolks in gelato, unlike ice cream makers. Many gelaterias make gelato from milk instead.

Gelato vs. Ice Cream: Nutritional Facts

According to the FDA, ice cream is a dairy product representing at least 10% of its calories as fats. Standard cartons of ice cream contain up to 25% fat calories. Gelato typically contains between 4 and 9% fat. It’s worth mentioning, however, that both are high in sugar. 

The sugar content in a 1/2-cup (78-gram) serving of vanilla ice cream can reach 16 grams. Gelato has about 160 calories and 17 grams of sugar in an equal serving of 88 grams.

These sweet treats are both high in sugar and calories, so they are best consumed only once in a while in moderation.

Does Gelato Have Less Fat than Ice Cream?

Because of the European essence of the treat, it is a little more sophisticated than ice cream, resulting in a smaller serving size. It takes less gelato to get the same flavor mass as ice cream because gelato is denser and more flavorful per bite. You can also make gelato without eggs and with no extra cream. The fat content of ice cream is much higher than in gelato, so you’ll get less fat from gelato.

Does Gelato Have Less Sugar than Ice Cream?

Gelato uses less sugar, an egg-free base, and primarily whole milk instead of sugar, egg, and cream, resulting in an additional richness and lower caloric count, sugar content, and butterfat content than regular ice cream.

While you find sugar in gelato and ice cream, ice cream has a lower preservation temperature than gelato. Thus, to maintain its consistency, ice cream needs much more sugar. Gelato requires far less sugar than ice cream because its preservation temperature of about 20 degrees warmer than ice cream. Its delightfully fluffy texture still is deliciously creamy despite using less sugar.

Does Gelato Have Fewer Calories than Ice Cream?

Compared to other desserts, both have high sugar and calories. But between each other, gelato has a smaller calorie count and less fat. In the end, it’s all about personal taste. A scoop of ice cream will surely satisfy your sweet tooth if you prefer it cold and creamy. However, gelato may be the right choice if you prefer silky frozen treats.

Your personal preferences play a significant role in determining which is the healthier option. If you are afraid of the fat content, gelato usually has less fat. Are you looking to avoid calories or sugar? Then add no chocolate, toppings, or syrups to your gelato. Some companies now offer reduced-fat ice cream as well, which may also be an option.