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How to Make Homemade Ice Cream: Your Teeth Will Thank You Later

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
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It's hard to find someone who doesn't like ice cream. Oh, you might squabble over whether soft-serve or firm is better, fruit flavor versus ooey-gooey hot fudge or caramel or the precise difference between ice milk, ice cream and frozen custard -- but there's an ice cream out there for everyone.

Yet all those choices aren't necessarily good because ice cream is loaded with sugar, and sugar is the main cause of tooth decay and cavities. Maybe you're not too concerned with a cavity here and there, but it goes beyond that. Tooth decay can lead to gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease has even been linked to serious conditions like heart disease and pancreatic cancer.

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Still, all isn't lost if ice cream is your guilty pleasure. It's easy to make your own ice cream, and recipes abound for tasty low- and no-sugar versions. Do a quick online search, and you'll find recipes that require nothing more than a handful of ingredients and a freezer container to gourmet types containing unsweetened cocoa powder imported from France that require constant stirring and whisking.

Keep in mind that when you're making your healthier ice cream, the texture and taste may be different from what you're used to based on the sweetener you use and the recipe itself. If you don't care for the first few batches you try, don't give up. Look for recipes with different ingredients or tinker a bit with some of the quantities.

And remember that low-sugar and no-sugar recipes don't mean the final product will be low-cal. There are often still plenty of calories, and if you start eating double cones because the ice cream has reduced sugar, you might safely satisfy your sweet tooth but could end up with a pudgy tummy.

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Before you start making your own ice cream, look at the ingredients. Typically, low- and no-sugar ice cream recipes swap out the sugar for an artificial sweetener, such as Equal, Sweet'N Low or Splenda, which have virtually no calories and won't contribute to tooth decay. Other recipes call for honey or other swaps like agave nectar, both of which are natural sweeteners that proponents claim are lower in calories, tastier and healthier than sugar. But those natural sweeteners still contribute to cavity formation, so it may be best to stick with the artificial ones -- which don't cause cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, as people once feared.

Don't be intimidated by the thought of making your own healthier ice cream. It's generally quite easy. Of course there are complicated recipes out there if that's more to your liking, but check out this simple one that's fun for kids to help make. A quick note about this recipe: To make it low-sugar, be sure to substitute the sugar for an artificial sweetener. Use whichever brand you prefer, in the roughly same amount of sugar that's called for in the recipe (add a bit more or less to suit your taste). You'll have cool, creamy, deliciousness in a jiffy.

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Sources

  • British Dental Health Foundation. "Tell me about>Diet." (Sept. 5, 2011) http://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/sundry/diet
  • Lebovitz, David. "Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe." Aug. 27, 2007 (Sept. 6, 2011) http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/08/sugarfree-choco/
  • Family Doctor. "Sugar substitutes: What You Need To Know." January 2010. (Sept. 5, 2011) http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/healthy/food/general-nutrition/1006.html
  • Fort Valley State University. "Sugar and Dental Health." (Sept. 5, 2011) http://www.ag.fvsu.edu/teletips/pdf/diet/1946.pdf
  • Magee, Elaine. "The Best of the Light Ice Creams." WebMD. (Sept. 5, 2011) http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-best-of-the-light-ice-creams
  • Mayo Clinic. "Artificial sweeteners: Understanding these and other sugar substitutes." (Sept. 5, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/artificial-sweeteners/MY00073
  • Medical News Today. "Pancreatic Cancer Linked To Poor Oral Hygiene." Jan. 17, 2007. (Sept. 1, 2011) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/60995.php
  • Sahelian, M.D., Ray. "Xylitol sweetener benefit, side effects, use for dental health, tooth cavities." (Sept. 5, 2011) http://www.raysahelian.com/xylitol.html
  • The Kitchn. "How To Make Creamy Ice Cream with Just One Ingredient." (Sept. 6, 2011) http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/stay-cool/how-to-make-creamy-ice-cream-with-just-one-ingredient-093414
  • The Sugar Bureau. "Dental Health." (Sept. 5, 2011) http://www.sugar-bureau.co.uk/dental-health.aspx
  • Treatment of Gingivitis. "Gingivitis and Heart Disease." Sept. 13, 2010. (Sept. 1, 2011) http://www.treatmentofgingivitis.com/gingivitis-and-heart-disease/
  • WSRO. "Sugar and dental caries." (Sept. 5, 2011) http://www.wsro.org/public/sugarandhealth/sugaranddentalcaries.html
  • Yale-New Haven Hospital. "Eat any sugar alcohol lately?" (Sept. 5, 2011) http://www.ynhh.org/about-us/sugar_alcohol.aspx

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