Ice cream is a classic summertime dessert that will never go out of style. With flavors ranging from traditional mint chocolate chip to exotic peanut butter and jelly, this creamy, frozen treat is here to stay- and we certainly aren't complaining.

As an ice cream junkie, I have tried any and all ice cream flavors that I could get my hands on. From late night Cookout milkshakes, to locally made gelato, to the famous Howling Cow ice cream, pictured below, I have consumed my fair share of the dessert and probably classify as an ice cream addict.

Olivia Chadwick

I knew that ice cream is not the healthiest food in the world, but I needed to know more about the nutrition behind my favorite dessert. I decided to talk to 7 local dietitians in the Raleigh, NC area who could help answer my burning question:

What are the pros and cons of eating ice cream?

Each dietitian provided various positives and negatives to eating the tasty treat, many of which I hadn't thought of. There are multiple pros (and a few cons) to consuming ice cream, so no need to completely ban it from your diet. Everything in moderation, right?

Pro: Nutrition and Macros

I talked with Lara Valerio MS, RD, a Chapel Hill native who is a big advocate for plant based eating. "Ice cream is a great source of calcium and phosphorus", she said, and not only that, the treat is a "high carbohydrate and protein source that will keep you satiated." 

Lisa Eberhart RD, LDN, CDE, the Director of Nutrition and Nutritional Wellness for NC State Dining, echoes that statement. "Ice cream is actually a pretty nutritious snack, with [a significant amount of] calcium and protein. The treat is very filling." She goes on to compare ice cream and yogurt, stating that "the fat content isn't that much above yogurt and has very similar nutritional profile." Bring on the ice cream!

Pro: Makes Us Happy

As Heather Carew MS, RD from Apex, NC puts it, "ice cream is good for your emotional health... that cools me down during those summer months." She admits that ice cream is her weakness, and I can 100% relate. She proudly states that "ice cream is my go-to soul food." Amen, sister.

Pro: Social Experience

Life's better when you are with your best friend, and eating ice cream together is no different. "Eating ice cream can be very social," Eberhart says. "If you eat it mindfully, then it can be a very fun experience." 

Carew agrees, suggesting that making ice cream with besties is a great way to enjoy the frozen treat and get some quality time with loved ones. "It can be a fun and creative way to bring your friends and family together while trying out new recipes."

Pro: Healthy Additions and Substitutions

There are many healthy toppings that can add beneficial nutrients to your bowl of ice cream. Fresh fruit, chopped nuts, and even flavored balsamic vinegar pair very well with the smooth, creamy texture of ice cream.

I spoke with Lesley Schatz, MPH, RD and current R&D Chef from NC State, who loves to make a healthier version of ice cream out of fruit, spices, and a touch of vanilla. "One of my favorite ways to make ice cream is blending bananas and roasted sweet potatoes. Once they are pureed and frozen, I add a dash of cinnamon and [a splash of] vanilla. Delicious!"

I personally love banana ice cream, and usually find a way to sneak chocolate or cocoa powder into the dessert for a touch of sweetness.

Heather Carpenter, RD, a Colorado native who loves ice cream almost as much as I do, suggests trying out frozen yogurt. "Ice cream has a higher fat content, so I enjoy eating frozen yogurt as a healthier substitution."

For a plant-based ice cream alternative, Valerio recommends soy ice cream, almond milk or coconut milk ice cream, and banana "nice" cream. Almonds and coconut have a higher fat content, which yields a creamy, flavorful dessert!

Pro and Con: Weight Gain

It's no secret that large quantities of ice cream pack on the pounds. This can be both a pro and a con, depending on the situation. Schatz offers a piece of advice for those who struggle to gain weight; "If you need to gain weight or if you are an [underweight] patient, ice cream is beneficial for weight gain."  

Jillian Schoening, MS, RD, a newly registered dietitian and avid ice cream eater, fully agrees. "Ice cream is packed with nutrients and can be a great way to add calories to your diet, especially if you struggle to consume adequate calories, have recently experienced unwanted weight loss, or cannot consume enough food due to an injury or procedure."

I asked Cindel Gwyn, MS, RD, her thoughts on the matter. She agrees with Schoening and Schatz, offering a helpful piece of advice we all can learn from; "Ice cream is a nice treat to help curb cravings. The downside is that overconsumption...[may] eventually result in weight gain, an increase in cholesterol, and issues with regulating blood sugars."

So does this mean that ice cream for every meal isn't a recommended diet? What a shame.

Con: Overeating

A common problem with eating ice cream is not knowing when to stop- myself included. Eberhart gives a classic example of the overeating scenario we all are thinking: "Ice cream is a comfort food. [There's always that] traditional picture of girl who broke up with her boyfriend, who is now eating a gallon of ice cream with a spoon."

Been there, done that.

She offers an important piece of advice to all ice cream lovers out there, jokingly stating "Portion size is important... a whole carton isn't a serving." 

Gwyn stresses the importance of portion sizes and maintaining a balanced diet. "One serving of ice cream is typically 1/2 cup, so if you are unsure of what this looks like, measure it out. Balance is key!"

Con: Dairy Allergy or Intolerance

Millions of infants, children, and adults worldwide struggle with lactose intolerance, dairy sensitivity, or even a severe dairy allergy. Schatz highlights this common dietary restriction, stating "If you have an allergy [to dairy] or eliminate ice cream for cultural or religious reasons, it can be cream is a very social food." 

Carew echoes this idea, recommending "those with special dietary needs like diabetics, the lactose intolerant, and those with allergies, should avoid or consume ice cream with caution."

Sometimes, the urge is real to drink that freshly churned milkshake. I feel you.

Con: Blood Sugar Spike

Sometimes, too much sugar is not a good thing. Carew advises on limiting the sugary dessert to a normal portion. "Ice cream has a ton of sugar, which can cause your blood sugar to spike followed by a crash, leaving you feeling tired and fatigued."

Schoening also talks about the other potential negatives to overconsumption of ice cream, warning of "elevated triglyceride and 'bad' cholesterol levels, [which can lead to] to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke." 

It's all about balance.

Olivia Chadwick

It turns out, my favorite summertime treat isn't as bad as I had imagined. As with any food, it is important to eat in moderation, and not single-handedly polish off a container of Breyer's in one night.

I learned that ice cream is a significant source of minerals and macronutrients, which our body uses for energy and daily function. Plus, the creamy, frozen treat is a great way to cool off during the hot, summer months. However, overeating this delicious dessert can cause weight gain and blood sugar spikes.

Now that you have received credible information from health professionals, you deserve to treat yo'self. Go get that scoop of ice cream you have been craving all afternoon....

I won't tell anyone.