Cherry Garcia? You're one of those "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kinda people. Chunky Monkey? You dare to be different—just like everyone else. Half Baked? You'll always be a rebellious kid at heart. ("Look, ma, I can buy a full pint of that brownie batter and cookie dough stuff you never let me eat, because I'm an adult!")
What sets Vermont's finest ice cream company apart from the competition is more than just an affinity for drool-worthy flavors with creatively punny names. Since 1978, the socially- and environmentally-conscious company has remained committed to the quality of its ingredients; their dairy is hormone-free, their eggs are cage-free, every ingredient is non-GMO, and the cocoa, sugar, bananas, coffee, and vanilla they use are all Fairtrade Certified. And even without knowing the good things this company is doing for its customers and the world, we would all still buy a pint (or two) whenever we're looking for a frozen treat. Why? Because Ben & Jerry's makes a darn good ice cream.
Even though most of us are fine with ice cream being solely about taste and do-goodery, it's worth knowing what kind of damage these indulgences are doing to our bodies. (Hey, this is Eat This, Not That!) And we're about to serve up a nutritional reality check: the average serving of Ben & Jerry's is packed with more fat and sugar than most of its competitors. And here's another newsflash: a pint is supposed to serve four—not just you. That being said, you don't have to give these delicious scoops a hard pass if you're trying to maintain your waistline. When eaten in moderation, ice cream serves up a dose of muscle-building protein, healthy fats, and minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
We've gathered the data and discovered which flavors won't totally derail your diet. No matter what you decide, think of your Ben & Jerry's indulgence as what it is—a nice treat to enjoy before going back to the healthy eating ways you know. Because if Ben and Jerry begin to become your best buds, you might end up turning into a "Chubby Hubby" yourself. Use our rankings as a guide so you can get a cup of something sweet—that isn't so sinful. And if you do happen to eat the whole pint, you might want to read What Eating an Entire Pint of Ice Cream Does To Your Body.
How We Ranked It
We decided to stick to the traditional line of ice cream pints (so, not non-dairy, sorbet, etc.) and we grabbed nutrition information for a half cup serving size of each flavor. First, we sorted by calories. From there, points were deducted based on sugar, carbs, fat, and saturated fat. When dairy was the only source of fat, the flavor fared better than those with added vegetable oils. Research from the Journal of Nutrition suggests the types of saturated and unsaturated fats found in vegetable oils may increase levels of inflammation and your risk of heart disease whereas the types of fats from dairy may have a beneficial effect. If there were any close calls, points were awarded to those with higher protein and fiber counts.
A note on trans fats: Some flavors contain trans fat—which is, surprisingly, a good sign in this case. Here's why: It's not the same industrial trans fat which has been banned by the FDA due to its role in cardiovascular disease. This is a naturally-occurring trans fat that's found in higher quantities (along with heart-healthy omega-3s) in quality milk from cows who graze—that's thanks to Ben & Jerry's commitment to sustainable dairy farming through their "Caring Dairy" program. Unlike industrial fats, a review published in Food Science and Nutrition found that cattle-derived trans fats are not associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease. Additionally, researchers suggest these fats possess beneficial health effects as they act as a precursor to CLA, a fatty acid which has been found to aid in weight loss and even possesses anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. For these reasons, we did not dock a flavor for trans fat content.
We often recommend eating healthy fats to boost satiety, help speed essential nutrients through your body, and maximize your metabolism. But because fats are calorie-dense, they should always be eaten in moderation, and too much at one time—like how most of these have over half your day's worth of saturated fat in a single serving—could put your body at risk of weight gain. Plus, these creams are on the high end of the sugar and carb spectrum, and many have over half your day's worth of added sugars (which the FDA recently set to 50 grams).
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Nutrition: 280 calories, 15 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 50 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (0 g fiber, 25 g sugar) 4 g protein
Ben & Jerry's was the first ice cream shop to introduce the world to Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream back in 1984, so you can blame them for your cravings. It might be one of their all-time most popular concoctions, but it ranks on our worst list because of the high carb count.
Nutrition: 300 calories, 18 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (1 g fiber, 28 g sugar), 4 g protein
Fans go bananas for this flavor, but you'd have to be nutty to eat more than a serving. (May we remind you, that's just half a cup!) We do appreciate, however, that Ben and Jerry subbed out the vegetable, palm, soy, or canola oils found in other flavors for coconut oil. The saturated fats in coconut oil actually convert "bad" LDL cholesterol into "good" HDL cholesterol, helping to promote heart health. It's just one of the 20 Benefits of Coconut Oil.
New York Super Fudge Chunk
Nutrition: 300 calories, 20 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 55 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (2 g fiber, 25 g sugar), 5 g protein
It would be in your best interest to drop this tub in a New-York minute. This flavor boasts one of the highest fat counts of all the ice creams. Luckily, some of those fats are heart-healthy, polyunsaturated fats thanks to its medley of walnuts, pecans, and almonds—we just think you could do without the 25 grams of sugar.
The Tonight Dough
Nutrition: 310 calories, 16 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 100 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (1 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 5 g protein
With all that slow-digesting fat preventing you from getting a restful night's sleep, we should add "Eating 'The Tonight Dough' during The Tonight Show" to our list of 25 Late-Night Habits That Prevent You From Losing Weight.
Brewed to Matter
Nutrition: 290 calories, 18 g fat (12 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 55 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (1 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 5 g protein
You know what would matter more? If there wasn't as much liquid sugar, sugar, cane syrup, corn syrup, and canola oil in our ice cream.
Nutrition: 280 calories, 16 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 95 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (0 g fiber, 28 g sugar), 4 g protein
This pint may contain "1776% of your recommended daily allowance of freedom," but it also contains 50% of your daily allowance of saturated fat. And by the looks of the ingredient list, a significant portion of your recommended intake of added sugars. (We say that because both added sugars and natural sugars are listed together as "sugar" on the nutrition label. Milk contains natural sugars, and these are not included in the FDA's recommendation to limit added sugar intake to 50 grams a day. Want to learn more? We break it down in What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Sugar.)
Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch
Nutrition: 300 calories, 20 g fat (13 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 45 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (0 g fiber, 25 g sugar), 4 g protein
You may have known this flavor as "Coffee Heath Bar Crunch," but thanks to B&J's commitment to sourcing Fairtrade Certified and non-GMO ingredients, the company had to develop their own toffee to replace the previous candy bar brand. Unfortunately, that feel-good feeling you'll get knowing you're eating ice cream that's good for the world might go away once you see how much fat is in it. Don't worry, coffee lovers. It may seem like your options are dwindling, but we did manage to get a coffee flavor on the best list—keep reading to find out which!
Vanilla Toffee Bar Crunch
Nutrition: 300 calories, 20 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 45 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (0 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 4 g protein
More saturated fat and more sugar than the Coffee Toffee set the Vanilla back a notch.
Everything But The…
Nutrition: 310 calories, 19 g fat (13 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (1 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 5 g protein
The answer isn't "kitchen sink," it's the "satisfaction of reaching your goal weight." Get back on track with these 25 Easy Ways to Lose 10 Pounds.
Peanut Butter World
Nutrition: 340 calories, 24 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (2 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 7 g protein
A world of peanut butter ice cream is filled with calories and fats. You're better off keeping the fatty peanut butter separate from the fatty ice cream if you're looking to slim down.
Nutrition: 340 calories, 21 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (2 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 7 g protein
We already used up our joke about becoming a chubby hubby if you eat too much "Chubby Hubby" in the intro, so we'll just talk about the fact this half-cup serving has almost as many calories as a McDonald's BBQ Ranch Burger topped with chili lime tortilla strips—but with more fat, more saturated fat, and way more sugar.
Triple Caramel Chunk
Nutrition: 270 calories, 15 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 100 mg sodium, 32 g carbs (0 g fiber, 29 g sugar), 4 g protein
Eating this flavor would serve up the same amount of sugar as what's in 9 pieces of Werther's Original caramel hard candies. Not even our grandma could make us eat that.
Nutrition: 290 calories, 15 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (0 g fiber, 29 g sugar), 4 g protein
Baby, you'll get a backside if you eat these buns, hun. This flavor was docked for its absurdly high carb and sugar content. Over a quarter of the ingredients used to make this batch are some type of sugar. We can not lie, leave this one on the shelf.
Nutrition: 310 calories, 16 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (2 g fiber, 29 g sugar), 4 g protein
S'mores are supposed to make you think of campfires, not setting those new pants you fit in on fire because you're so furious they no longer fit you after eating a couple scoops of this.
Chocolate Peppermint Crunch
Nutrition: 300 calories, 16 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (2 g fiber, 30 g sugar), 4 g protein
Mint can help with weight loss—just not when it's in this pint of ice cream.
Vanilla Caramel Fudge
Nutrition: 290 calories, 16 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 115 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (0 g fiber, 32 g sugar), 4 g protein
How did something so simple go so wrong? This pint is basically made up of cream and sugar, so much so that over 25 percent of every bite you take is just pure sugar.
Nutrition: 290 calories, 14 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (2 g fiber, 32 g sugar), 4 g protein
We really, really wish this flavor wasn't as bad as it is. And that's only because a portion of PHISH's royalties from this flavor go toward environmental efforts in Vermont's Lake Champlain Watershed. If you really want to help out, make a donation instead. Or, buy a pint, but eat it a spoonful at a time—an entire serving sets you back over half your day's worth of added sugars.
And the #1 Worst B&J Flavor Is… Peanut Butter Cup
Nutrition: 370 calories, 26 g fat (14 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 140 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (1 g fiber, 25 g sugar), 7 g protein
Dr. Jen Ashton, author of Eat This, Not That! When You're Expecting, may give the green light to eating ice cream when you've got a baby on board—it does, after all, come packed with bone-building calcium and protein—but that doesn't mean all tubs are in the clear. Whether it was Ben or Jerry, someone managed to stuff this Peanut Butter Cup ice cream full of more than half a day's worth of saturated fat and more calories than a McDonald's burger with a small side of fries. That's why it's one of our 7 Worst Ice Creams When You're Pregnant.
And Now…The Best
When it comes to this Vermont-based ice cream company, less is… well, less. Many of Ben & Jerry's simplest flavors are unsurprisingly some of their most nutritionally sound. All flavors below are under 300 calories, have fewer than 11 grams of saturated fat, and come in it at under 27 grams of sugar.
Nutrition: 270 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 33 g carbs (1 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 4 g protein
We saw that little happy dance you just did when you saw Half Baked was on the best list—even if it barely made it. If you're going to indulge, be sure to stick to the serving size to avoid any deleterious effects this large whack of carbs may have on your blood sugar.
Nutrition: 270 calories, 15 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 80 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 4 g protein
Ben and Jerry developed this flavor to spread awareness of the power we have as voters in the political system. They say, "We all deserve an equal serving of democracy," and if that serving is of Empower Mint, we'd agree!
Mint Chocolate Cookie
Nutrition: 280 calories, 17 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 120 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (0 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 5 g protein
It may have a gram or so more fat, but Mint Chocolate Cookie is lower in sugar and higher in protein, earning it a spot closer to the best of the best compared to Empower Mint.
Milk & Cookies
Nutrition: 280 calories, 17 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 4 g protein
If anyone could make the classic feel-good combo of milk and cookies any better, it's our good friends Ben and Jerry. Just because it's on our best list doesn't mean you can eat the whole pint, though. Soybean oil is still listed as an ingredient, an oil that is notorious for having high levels of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
Nutrition: 250 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 50 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 4 g protein
We gave this flavor a break when it came to the sugar content because some of that is from the bananas and strawberries that colorfully streak through the vanilla cream. Fruit sugar acts the same way in your body as regular sugar, but fruit is better for you because it comes with slow-digesting fibers to blunt the spikes in blood glucose. Unfortunately, this frozen treat is lacking on the fiber front. Find out more about fruit and their sugar content in our exclusive report, Every Popular Fruit—Ranked By Sugar Content!
Chocolate Fudge Brownie
Nutrition: 260 calories, 13 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 70 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (2 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 5 g protein
You can feel good that one of your favorite chocolatey, fudgy ice creams ranks well on our list, and then you can feel even better than the brownies are made by New York's Greyston Bakery, a company that provides jobs and training to low-income city residents. This ranks better than the split because it carries more fiber and protein per serving.
Coffee, Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz!
Nutrition: 260 calories, 16 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 40 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 24 g sugar), 4 g protein
Coffee lovers, over here! Here's the flavor you should eat! It's lower in calories, fats, and carbs compared to the other bean-derived flavors. And this one is more buzz-worthy.
Nutrition: 270 calories, 16 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 65 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 5 g protein
These nutritionals certainly are a reason to celebrate. Low in sugar (well, not really low, but compared to the worst offenders it's low) and not too terrible on the carb front. Plus, this cream has one of the highest protein counts of the bunch!
Red Velvet Cake
Nutrition: 260 calories, 14 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (0 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 4 g protein
Many of us know red velvet cake is just yellow cake with food dye, but not in this pint. The "dye" is actually a natural, vegetable-derived color as opposed to the coal-derived junk that has been associated with hyperactivity in children.
Boston Cream Pie
Nutrition: 260 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (0 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 4 g protein
If you were surprised to see a donut flavor on the best list, don't worry—so were we. It might be on the high end of the spectrum for carbs, but it's still low in sugar compared to other flavors, and we weighted sugar more heavily than carbs. That's because Americans' increased intake of refined sugars has been associated with increased risk of fatty liver disease, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes—all components of a larger disease called metabolic syndrome. One of the best foods to fight this metabolic mess? Apples! They're one of the 50 Healthiest Foods for Women.
Nutrition: 250 calories, 15 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 85 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (0 g fiber, 23 g sugar) 4 g protein
No "Dumb Blonde" jokes here! For a buttery, brown sugar ice cream with blonde brownies and butterscotch toffee flakes, this "Blondie Ambition" is surprisingly one of the best picks of the bunch. With nearly identical nutritionals to the "Cherry Garcia" below—although it is lower in calories and a single carb—we deduced points because the ingredients were not listed on the website (the only one of the bunch), which we could have used to better split the tie.
Nutrition: 260 calories, 15 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 40 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 4 g protein
Like we said earlier, Cherry Garcia lovers are the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" kinda people, and that saying certainly holds true for this flavor. One of the earliest developed mixes, this medley of cherries and cream has earned our stamp of approval. (Oh and the taste is pretty good, too.)
Nutrition: 280 calories, 19 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 65 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 6 g protein
You either love the pistachios, or you hate them. We love them. And we also love that this flavor has the lowest amount of sugar out of all Ben & Jerry's Pints! It might be high in fats, but many of those come from the polyunsaturated fats found in nuts that can actually improve your cholesterol profile and lower your risk of heart disease.
A Swirled of Difference
Nutrition: 270 calories, 18 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 6 g protein
Your favorite sandwich has finally crossed over to the big leagues. Peanut butter ice cream with a crunchy peanut butter and raspberry jam swirl: the perfect salty, sweet combination. You can thank the healthy fats from the peanuts for the high fat content, but the sugar and saturated fat numbers are still lower than average, making it one of our top picks.
Nutrition: 260 calories, 14 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 85 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (< 1 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 4 g protein
Say cheese! You won't be hiding from photos if this is your ice cream of choice. On the low end for saturated fat and sugar, this flavor will help you stay bikini ready.
Nutrition: 260 calories, 15 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 115 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (0 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 4 g protein
It seems fitting that the top three flavors are the three most popular in ice cream cases across the country: strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla. Jerry and Ben jazz it up with some cheesecake pieces to make it all the more delectable.
Nutrition: 250 calories, 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 60 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (2 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 5 g protein
Despite the name, and despite the fact that it's one of the best flavors on the team, food probably shouldn't be used as therapy. Emotional eating is one of the top reasons why people regain weight after losing it. We'd recommend finding alternative ways of coping, like going for a run or knitting.
And The #1 Best B&J Flavor Is… Vanilla
Nutrition: 250 calories, 16 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 50 mg sodium, 21 g carbs (0 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 4 g protein
Sorry. But in terms of nutrition, vanilla is the best choice—albeit marginally. It's higher in saturated fats and fats compared to the above flavors, but because it's just vanilla, those are entirely milk-derived (whereas many of the fats from other flavors are added from inflammatory vegetable oils). It's also the second lowest in sugar, and the bottom of the bunch for calories.