CSPI looks at ice cream bars, fruit bars, and other frozen treats

Just weeks after unveiling the staggering calorie and saturated fat content of popular ice-cream-shop treats, the food sleuths at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) have turned their attention to ice cream bars, fruit bars, and other frozen novelties sold in supermarkets. Odds are, says CSPI, that by reaching into your freezer, as opposed to visiting Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s, you’ll save on saturated fat and calories as well as time and money.

Here are a few treats CSPI’s nutritionists recommend—and a few they recommend avoiding. The full review is published in the September issue of CSPI’s award-winning Nutrition Action Healthletter.

  • Fudgsicles and Creamsicles: Non-fat milk, sugar, and cocoa let fudge bars deliver rich taste, yet they rarely deliver more than 100 calories and one gram of saturated fat. Healthy Choice Low Fat Fudge Bars and Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Sorbet Bars were CSPI’s favorites. Creamsicles are typically nearly fat-free sherbet surrounding a small ice cream core. CSPI’s Best Bites in this category include a fat-free Sorbet & Yogurt version from Haagen-Dazs and Tropicana’s Strawberry ’n Cream and Orange Cream Bars.
  • Fruit Bars: CSPI found more than dozens of refreshing fruit bars that have between 30 and 130 calories and no (or very little) saturated fat. The best have fruit, fruit puree, or fruit juice as the main ingredient, including some from Breyers, Dole, Tropicana, and Frozfruit. (But apple, grape, or pear juices are the least nutritious.) Watch out for coconut, cream, or chocolate coating in fruit bars, though, which can drive up the saturated fat content.
  • Ice Cream Bars: The high-fat ice cream used in DoveBars, Haagen-Dazs, and Ben & Jerry’s is a bad place to start, says CSPI. But chocolate coating—which is made from heart-harmful coconut oil—makes matters much worse. Some DoveBars provides 330 calories and a half a day’s worth of saturated fat—worse than a nine-ounce filet mignon. Among the worst is Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream Bar, with 370 calories and three-quarters of a day’s worth of sat fat.

“The good news is that scores of frozen bars are low in calories and saturated fat,” said CSPI nutrition director Bonnie Liebman. “But some food manufacturers seem to be competing with each other to make their bars as bad for you as possible.”