10 Best & Worst Ice Pops, According to Dietitians
With the sweltering days of summer in full swing, it's a smart idea to have a refreshing, hydrating treat stashed in your freezer for easy access. And ice pops are a dietitian-approved dessert that can provide sweet hydration without too many calories. (As a note, while most people refer to ice pops and fruit pops as popsicles, "Popsicle" is actually a brand name, so that's why we'll refer to healthy popsicles as healthy ice pops.)
"If it's a pop made with fruit, it's probably lower in calories and saturated fat content than ice cream or sherbet, and it could offer a satisfying frosty treat in warm weather," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com, author of Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table.
The next time you're in the mood for a refreshing, cool, sweet treat, you can quickly grab a box of ice and fruit pops from the grocery store and make sure they're the best for your body with the help of these dietitian-recommended options.
How to buy the best healthy ice pops.
Before reaching for the first box you see in the freezer aisle, Taub-Dix recommended some shopping tips for how to choose the best healthy ice pops:
- Check the calorie count: A typical ice pop contains around 40 to 100 calories, but this can vary depending on the size, ingredients, and brand. "If you're looking to manage your calorie intake, it's a good idea to choose ice pops with lower calorie content," Taub-Dix says.
- Aim for less than 10 grams of sugar: The sugar content of different brands varies, so be sure to check nutrition labels. Taub-Dix recommends aiming for an ice pop with around 10 grams (or less) of sugar per serving. "Just keep in mind that although a fruit provides natural sugar and that the average piece of fruit provides 15 grams of natural sugar; so if your pop is made with real fruit, it may contain a similar amount of sugar as reflected on the label as sugar, not added sugar," she says. Although many of us eat too much sugar, men should consume no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons) of added sugar per day, and women should consume no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day, as recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA). "As a frame of reference, there are 4 grams of sugar per teaspoon," Taub-Dix says.
- Check for additives and artificial sweeteners: Depending on your particular needs, you might want to check labels to see whether your freezer pops contain artificial sweeteners or additives you might otherwise want to limit or avoid, Taub-Dix recommends. Artificial sweeteners aren't inherently bad, and they "could work ideally for those with diabetes or for people who want to control their sugar intake," Taub-Dix says. For children and for those who prefer the taste of natural sweetness, Taub-Dix recommends pops that are only sweetened with fruit or 100% fruit juice.
The 7 best healthy popsicles, ice pops, and fruit pops.
While we'll focus on the best healthy ice pop brands to buy in grocery stores, it happens to be really easy to make your own ice pops at home; just puree your favorite fruits in the blender, pour them into ice pop molds, and then pop them into the freezer.
"This might be the least expensive and healthiest way to create an ice pop, and it could be fun to do this with your kids," Taub-Dix says, adding that it's also a great way to use up the extra fruit in your fridge and prevent food waste.
Now without further ado, check out this list of the best and worst ice pops at the grocery store. And next up, peek through these 10 Best Store-Bought Ice Cream Bars.
"GoodPop includes organic ingredients while providing several types of ice pops made with real fruit and no artificial additives, preservatives, and added sugars," Taub-Dix says. With flavors such as Cherry n' Lemonade, Hibiscus Mint, and Watermelon Agave, you really can't go wrong. But as with most products, check labels carefully since some of Goodpop's flavors have no added sugars while others do, Taub-Dix notes.
Taub-Dix loves Chloe's frozen fruit pops because they're made with a minimal number of ingredients and no artificial flavors or colors. Plus, they're dairy-free and gluten-free, deeming them suitable for many different diets. Many flavors also contain fruit puree as the first ingredient, so you know you're getting a solid dose of produce in each pop. It's worth noting that some flavors contain a bit more than the 10 grams of added sugar Taub-Dix recommends, but they do also contain a bit of blood sugar-stabilizing fiber.
Ruby Rockets offers fruit- and veggie-based ice pops that are low in calories, sugar, and fat. "Besides fruit, what makes them unique is that they include veggie purees like sweet potato, carrot, and beet purees," Taub-Dix says. Their stellar ingredient list also makes them an excellent source of vitamins A and C.
Outshine offers a variety of fruit-based ice pops made with real fruit juice, and they're free from high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors or flavors. "Fruit is listed before sugar on the ingredient list, which is an important feature to look for," Taub-Dix says. Choose from flavors including Creamy Coconut, Mango With Tajin, and Pomegranate. In addition to fruit bars, Outshine also has a line of delicious yogurt bars.
Deebee's Organics Classic SuperFruit Freezie Pops
Deebee's Organics makes a healthy version of the artificially-colored popsicles you grew up with. We love that organic fruit juices and purees make up the bulk of these freezie pops' ingredient list, and they don't contain much else. Deebee's treats are free of gluten, added sugar, and the top nine allergens; plus, they're low in calories and sugar, so you can feel good about feeding these to your kids (and yourself).
Halo Top Fruit Pops
The makers of your favorite low-calorie ice cream also make some scrumptious fruit pops. Halo Top's pops contain more fiber than sugar (with about 20 percent of your daily value of fiber per treat), which gives this snack a bit more staying power. Just note that these are sweetened with a bit of stevia, a natural zero-calorie sweetener, which helps keep the sugar and calories low.
A Fourth-of-July staple, these classic red, white, and blue healthy popsicles are perfect for summer cookouts, picnics, and long days poolside. One treat has just 35 calories and 6 grams of added sugar. While they don't have any real fruit, these healthy popsicles also don't contain artificial dyes or artificial sweeteners.
The 3 worst ice pops.
These nostalgic ice pops might just be best left in the past. Fla-Vor-Ice contains artificial dyes like Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Taub-Dix points out. And although they're low in calories and sugar, high-fructose corn syrup is higher on the ingredient list than fruit juices.
SpongeBob SquarePants Popsicles
This ice cream truck classic packs a long ingredient list that contains multiple sources of sugar, including high-fructose corn syrup, as well as artificial preservatives and dyes—hence why it isn't one of the best healthy popsicles. Also good to know: The SpongeBob popsicles come with a warning label as it contains gumballs, which can be a potential choking hazard for kids ages 3 and under.
Otter Pops Original
Taub-Dix isn't a fan that Otter Pops' Original Pops contain added sugars in the form of high fructose corn syrup—the second ingredient after water—and artificial colors. The only good thing these pops have going for them is that they're small, so if you do manage to only have one, you'd consume just 15 calories and 3.5 grams of sugar.