Nutrition Action Healthletter
June 1998 — U.S. Edition

Brand-Name Comparison
Frozen Desserts

Bonnie Liebman & Jayne Hurley

Here’s a simple summertime quiz. Guess how much saturated fat is:

a) in a cup of Breyers All Natural Vanilla Ice Cream?

b) in a cup of Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream?

c) the maximum you should eat in a whole day?

Answers: A cup of Breyers—like most other standard ice creams—has about 20 grams of fat, ten of them saturated. Häagen-Dazs—like Ben & Jerry’s and most other premiums—has about 40 grams of fat per cup, 20 of them other words, at least a day’s maximum. Some—Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz Buzz, for example—have almost 30 grams of sat fat.

That, in a nutshell, is why anything but low-fat or fat-free ice cream is a major splurge. And even low-fat has too much saturated fat...if you eat a cup or more.

(The government says that a serving of ice cream is only half a cup. But if you’re like most people, you can double the fat and other numbers you see listed on the package.)

Here’s the scoop that many people miss: Fat-free doesn’t mean you can polish off a pint of Häagen-Dazs and hide it from your love handles. Nor does it mean that low-fat ice cream is a building block of a healthy low-fat diet.

Fat or no fat, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and sherbets are still sugary desserts. But if you choose carefully, you can get a good dose of calcium or vitamin C—not to mention cool, refreshing pleasure—without tying up traffic in your coronary arteries.


A cup of Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Almond Fudge Frozen Yogurt has 70 mg of caffeine—roughly half a cup of brewed coffee’s worth. The 10 mg in a cup of Healthy Choice Lowfat Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream makes it almost like decaf.

But who would know? Ice cream and frozen yogurt labels don’t list caffeine. So here’s a little help for low-fat or fat-free coffee-frozen-dessert lovers, especially those who like it as a late-night snack.

Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt
(1 cup)

Caffeine (mg)

Coffee, brewed 135
Coffee, instant 95
Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Almond Fudge Frozen Yogurt 70
Cascadian Farm Coffee Chocolate Sorbet & Cream 70
Cascadian Farm Mocha Fudge Frozen Yogurt 70
Starbucks Lowfat Ice Cream, Latte or Mocha Mamba 60
Häagen-Dazs Fat Free Coffee Frozen Yogurt 50-60
Élan Coffee Frozen Yogurt 50
It’s Soy Delicious, Espresso or Espresso Almond Fudge 50
Sweet Nothings Espresso Fudge 50
Ben & Jerry’s Lowfat Coffee & Biscotti Ice Cream 40
"TCBY" Nonfat Kona Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt 40
Espresso (1 shot) 35
Häagen-Dazs Lowfat Coffee Fudge Ice Cream 20-30
Colombo Nonfat Shoppe Style Chocolate
Cappuccino Twist Frozen Yogurt
Healthy Choice Lowfat Cappuccino Mocha Fudge Ice Cream 20
Dreyer’s (Edy’s) Fat Free Coffee Fudge Sundae Frozen Yogurt 10-15
Dreyer’s (Edy’s) No Sugar Added Light Mocha Fudge Ice Cream 10-15
Alta Dena Lite Mocha Mocha Ice Cream 10
Healthy Choice Lowfat Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream 10
Mattus’ Lowfat Coffee Ice Cream 10
Coffee, decaf 5
Dannon Light Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt 0
Élan Decaffeinated Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt 0
Mattus’ Fat Free Coffee Cappuccino Swirl Ice Cream 0
Stonyfield Farm Frozen Yogurt or Ice Cream, all coffee or mocha flavors 0


Our Best Bites have no more than two grams of saturated fat (and no more than four grams of any fat) per cup. They also have no artificial sweeteners. What’s more, each cup has to supply at least 20 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium and/or vitamin C.

Best Bites aren’t hard to find if you like fat-free ice cream or frozen yogurt. (The only nutritional difference between the two: Frozen yogurt has "active cultures" that help digest lactose, a naturally occurring milk sugar in yogurt and ice cream. That may help people who can’t digest the lactose themselves.)

Most ice creams and frozen yogurts hit 200 mg of calcium per cup. Some—like Häagen-Dazs fat-free and Brigham’s, Stonyfield Farm, and Blue Bell non-fat frozen yogurts—hover around 300 mg per cup.

In contrast, Dreyer’s Fat Free Frozen Yogurt (the brand is called Edy’s in the East) reaches an unheard-of 900 mg per cup because of added calcium carbonate. Think of it as dessert plus a calcium supplement rolled into one.

Just remember that even fat-free ice creams and yogurts are loaded with sugar...and calories.

A standard full-fat ice cream like Breyers averages 300 to 350 calories per cup. (A premium full-fat like Ben & Jerry’s averages 500 to 700 per cup.) For most fat-free brands, calories range from 200 to 250 per cup.

It’s the premium brands—like Häagen-Dazs Fat Free Frozen Yogurt and Mattus’ Fat Free Ice Cream—that can hit 300 calories. Why? They have less air, which means more frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Surprisingly, you don’t save that many calories by switching to a "no sugar added" variety. Kemps No Added Sugar Fat Free Vanilla Ice Cream, for example, has 140 calories per cup—not far from the 200 in Kemps Fat Free Vanilla Ice Cream. And the No Added Sugar version is sweetened with the artificial sweetener aspartame (NutraSweet), which needs further testing.

Dreyer’s (Edy’s) No Sugar Added Light Vanilla Ice Cream will save you only 40 calories vs. Dreyer’s (Edy’s) Grand Light Vanilla. What’s more, it’s made with aspartame plus the inadequately tested and possibly carcinogenic sweetener acesulfame K (Sunett).

Sugar or no sugar, the sweetness of many fat-free ice creams or frozen yogurts is overpowering to some people. If that’s you, switch to low-fat... and eat less.


A tennis ball.

If your usual serving of ice cream or frozen yogurt is that size or smaller, you’re eating no more than half a cup. You can eat that much low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt and still keep a lid on your sat fat.

Most low-fats have six grams of fat—four of them saturated—per cup. That’s a fifth of a day’s worth of the fat that clogs arteries...not exactly food you can eat with abandon.

(There are a few exceptions. Healthy Choice Lowfat Ice Cream and most Blue Bell Lowfat and Colombo Lowfat Shoppe Style Frozen Yogurts, for example, sneak under the Best Bite limit, with just two grams of sat fat per cup.)

But if you eat half a cup of low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt, you cut the fat—and calories—in half. Of course, you also cut the calcium from 200 mg per serving down to 100 mg, still not bad for a dessert.


When an ice cream or frozen yogurt label says "light," it usually means you get half the fat of the regular version. Odds are that’s still too much.

Kemps, Dreyer’s (Edy’s), Breyers, and most other lights have eight or nine grams of fat—five of them saturated—per cup. There’s no need to try them unless you’re still eating regular ice cream and want to ratchet down the fat slowly.

Sorbet & Sherbet

Sorbet is almost always fat-free. Sherbet is close. They’re mostly sugar, fruit, and (for sherbet) a touch of cream.

But some are better than others. Most flavors of Dreyer’s (Edy’s), Häagen-Dazs, Cascadian Farm, Ben & Jerry’s, and Ciao Bella have enough fruit to supply a good dose of vitamin C along with the 200-to-260 calories you get in each cup. Others—like Alta Dena Sherbet and some Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs Sorbets—have little or no vitamin C.

Just watch out for Ciao Bella Coconut Sorbetto. It has ten grams of fat—nine of them saturated. That’s coconut for you.


Best Bites () contain no more than four grams of total fat and two grams of saturated fat per cup. They also have at least 20 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for calcium and/or vitamin C and contain no artificial sweeteners. Within each category, frozen desserts are ranked from 1) least to most saturated fat, 2) least to most total fat, and 3) most to least calcium (or most to least vitamin C for sorbets and sherbets).

Frozen Dessert (1 cup)


Frozen Yogurt


Total Fat (grams)

Saturated Fat (grams)

Calcium (%DV)

Dreyer’s (Edy’s) Fat Free¹ 180 0 0 90
Häagen-Dazs Fat Free¹ 280 0 0 35
Stonyfield Farm Nonfat¹ 200 0 0 30
Brigham’s Nonfat¹ 210 0 0 30
Blue Bell Nonfat¹ 230 0 0 30
  Dannon Light¹# 170 0 0 20
Kemps Fat Free (except Cranberry, Raspberry, Rocky Road Brownie, or Strawberry Cheesecake)¹ 200 0 0 20
Breyers Fat Free Cookies In Cream or Vanilla² 210 0 0 20
"TCBY" Nonfat Premium (except Chewy Chocolate Sundae)¹ 220 0 0 20
Colombo Nonfat Shoppe Style¹ 230 0 0 20
  Breyers Fat Free Strawberry, Vanilla & Chocolate, or Vanilla Fudge Twirl ² 210 0 0 15
  Kemps Fat Free Cranberry Raspberry, Rocky Road Brownie, or Strawberry Cheesecake² 220 0 0 15
  "TCBY" Nonfat Premium Chewy Chocolate Sundae 240 0 0 15
  Dannon Light ‘N Crunchy¹# 220 2 1 20
"TCBY" Summertime Strawberry 200 2 2 15
Blue Bell Lowfat (except Cookies N Cream)¹ 260 3 2 30
Colombo Lowfat Shoppe Style (except Chocolate Peanut Butter Twist)¹ 260 3 2 20
Cascadian Farm Harvest Berry, Lemon Chiffon, Raspberry Chocolate Swirl, or Mocha Fudge² 240 4 2 25
  "TCBY" (except Summertime Strawberry)¹ 230 4 2 15
  Stonyfield Farm Lowfat¹ 260 6 2 25
  Colombo Lowfat Shoppe Style Chocolate Peanut Butter Twist 280 6 2 20
  Breyers All Natural¹ 250 6 3 20
  Dreyer’s (Edy’s)¹ 230 7 3 90
  Blue Bell Lowfat Cookies ‘n Cream 280 5 4 30
  Kemps Lowfat¹ 240 6 4 15
  Élan¹ 280 7 4 30
  Ben & Jerry’s¹ 370 7 4 30
  Kemps Premium¹ 290 8 5 15
  Ice Cream


Total Fat (grams)

Saturated Fat (grams)

Calcium (%DV)

Breyers Fat Free¹ 200 0 0 25
  Kemps No Sugar Added Fat Free Vanilla# 140 0 0 20
Kemps Fat Free¹ (except Raspberry Sorbet ‘N Cream Ice Cream) 220 0 0 20
  Dreyer’s (Edy’s) No Sugar Added Fat Free¹# 190 0 0 15
  Mattus’ Fat Free¹ 290 0 0 15
  Kemps Fat Free Raspberry Sorbet ‘N Cream Ice Cream 200 0 0 10
Häagen-Dazs Lowfat Strawberry 300 4 2 30
Ben & Jerry’s Lowfat S’mores 380 4 2 30
Stonyfield Farm Lowfat Cherry Vanilla, Mango, Mocha Fudge Biscotti, Strawberry, or Vanilla Brownie Fudge² 240 4 2 25
Healthy Choice Lowfat¹ 240 4 2 20
  Häagen-Dazs Lowfat¹ (except Strawberry) 350 5 3 40
  Breyers Homemade Light Vanilla 220 5 3 20
  Starbucks Lowfat¹ 340 6 3 20
  Dreyer’s (Edy’s) No Sugar Added Light¹# 190 7 3 15
  Mattus’ Lowfat¹ 300 6 4 30
  Ben & Jerry’s Lowfat¹ (except S’mores) 350 6 4 30
  Breyers All Natural Light¹ 280 8 5 30
  Breyers No Sugar Added Light¹# 190 9 5 20
  Breyers All Natural¹ 320 18 11 10
  Ben & Jerry’s¹ 580 38 21 20
  Häagen-Dazs Chocolate, Coffee, Rum Raisin, Vanilla, or Vanilla Swiss Almond² 560 37 22 30
  Sorbet & Sherbet Calories Total Fat (grams) Saturated Fat (grams) Calcium (%DV) Vitamin C (%DV)
Dreyer’s (Edy’s) Whole Fruit Sorbet¹ (except Cherry Cordial) 250 0 0 0 435
Cascadian Farm Tropical Sorbet¹ 190 0 0 5 105
Ciao Bella Lemon, Raspberry, or Passion Fruit Orange Sorbetto² 240 0 0 0 45
Häagen-Dazs Mango or Strawberry Sorbet² 250 0 0 0 45
Ben & Jerry’s Sorbet¹ (except Devil’s Food Chocolate) 250 0 0 5 20
  Häagen-Dazs Chocolate, Passion Fruit, Raspberry, Vanilla, or Lemon Sorbet² 250 0 0 0 5
  Dreyer’s (Edy’s) Cherry Cordial Whole Fruit Sorbet 320 0 0 0 0
Blue Bell Citrus Swirl, Orange, or Rainbow Sherbet² 260 2 0 15 10
Dreyer’s (Edy’s) Berry Rainbow Sherbet 260 2 1 10 40
  Breyers Sherbet¹ 240 2 1 10 2
  Ben & Jerry’s Devil’s Food Chocolate 320 2 1 10 0
Mattus’ Black Raspberry Sorbet and Cream 230 3 2 25 5
Dreyer’s (Edy’s) Sherbet and Light Ice Cream Orange Vanilla Swirl 240 4 2 10 40
  Ciao Bella Coconut Sorbetto 280 10 9 0 0

Best Bite.  # Contains one or more artificial sweetners.  ¹ average for the entire line.  ² average for the flavors listed.

Source for all tables in this article: manufacturers.  The use of information from this articles for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without written permission from CSPI.

The information for this article was compiled by Trish Treanor.

Nutrition Action Healthletter