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Side Effects of Giving up Ice Cream, According to Science

This classic summer treat does a lot more to your body than you think.

I scream, you scream, we…may not all scream for ice cream. Ice cream may be a delicious dessert to scoop up during the warmer months, but for those looking to cut their added sugar intake, giving up ice cream can seem like an easy solution.

And yet, while it may seem like there would be only positive side effects to giving up this popular dessert, surprisingly, ice cream can provide your body with nutrients you may not have realized as you lick on a cone under the sun.

Regardless, whatever the case may be—either cutting back on your sugar or your dairy—here are some of the side effects you'll experience if you're giving up ice cream in the future. And for more eating tips, be sure to read up on our list of the 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.

You'll consume less added sugar.

ice cream

In general, if you decide to cut a dessert out of your regular diet, you're going to see a decrease in your overall added sugar intake. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), having too many added sugars in your diet can contribute to weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Added sugars can come from all kinds of processed forms of sugar including sucrose, dextrose, table sugar, syrups, honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.

The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend your added sugar intake only make up for less than 10% of your total calories each day. The American Heart Association (AHA) says you should keep your added sugar intake to no more than 9 teaspoons for men (36 grams) and 6 teaspoons for women (25 grams).

While it's okay to have a dessert once in a blue moon, if you find yourself craving another type of dessert you would prefer to enjoy, giving up ice cream and sticking to that dessert you love is a great way to cut down your added sugars and avoid an increased risk in chronic diseases.

Here's What Eating Added Sugars Does to Your Body.

Your heart health will improve.


In particular, giving up ice cream can result in a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases later in life. Whether it's ice cream or another type of dessert, the AHA states that having too much added sugar—which likely is coming from processed foods—is linked to a much greater risk of dying from heart disease. The AHA points out a specific study published in 2014 by JAMA Internal Medicine that shows the repercussions of a high-sugar diet, which showed that anyone who consumed 17% to 21% of their total calories as added sugar saw a 38% higher risk of dying of heart disease.

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You'll sleep better.

Sad woman eating ice cream

According to John Hopkins Medicine, foods that are high in fat can actually disrupt your sleep. When consuming these foods, your body experiences a decreased sensitivity to the brain chemical called orexin, which helps to regular your body's sleep clock.

Given that this popular late-night snack is usually a treat enjoyed before bed, by giving up ice cream (or other high-fat foods at night), you will likely experience better sleep overall.

Here are the 40 Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Sleep.

You'll lose a source of calcium.

ice cream

While there are some positive benefits about giving up ice cream, there is also one negative benefit to consider. Although most ice cream can be high in fat and sugar (unless you're enjoying one of these Best Diet Ice Cream Brands), ice cream is also a dairy product. Dairy products are well known for supplying your body with good nutrients like protein and calcium, which is good for your body's fullness and overall health. Compared to other desserts, ice cream is a clever way to get in more of those nutrients as you enjoy a tasty treat.

If you're thinking about giving up ice cream, make sure to evaluate other ways you are getting calcium into your diet. Here are The 20 Best Calcium-Rich Foods That Aren't Dairy.

Your stomach may feel better.

middle aged woman sitting on bed with stomach pain
Shutterstock / fizkes

Not everyone screams for ice cream. In fact, anyone who has a lactose intolerance likely steers clear of ice cream in general, given how their stomach feels while ingesting it.

Even if you don't have an outright lactose intolerance allergy that has been diagnosed, it is actually common to have issues with lactose later in life. According to the Mayo Clinic, lactose intolerance can develop at any point in life. This is all due to the sugar found in dairy products called lactose, which can be harder to digest for some individuals as time progresses.

While giving up ice cream can help with discomfort in your stomach, if you feel this is something you are experiencing, you should likely still talk to your doctor and discuss future solutions—and see if there is a potential lactose intolerance you need to be aware of. Here are 9 Signs of Lactose Intolerance You Should Never Ignore.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten