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Is There Really A Healthy Ice Cream Brand?

I love ice cream! When I want a treat, ice cream is one of my favorites! But take a walk through the typical ice cream aisle and you’ll find a minefield of risky (and sometimes dangerous) additives mixed with factory farmed milk. I’m a firm believer that everyone should still enjoy treats from time to time, but don’t consider it a treat to poison myself with heart-wrecking trans fats, carcinogenic poisons like glyphosate, and additives linked to gut inflammation. I’ve learned that you can enjoy treats (even ice cream!) that won’t destroy your health and pack on the pounds, but you just need to know what to look for. 

There are now some brands that seem healthier like Halo Top and Arctic Zero, and many people have been asking me if they are TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. I’ll get to them in a moment, but first let’s check out what you’ll find in the major ice cream brands.

If you see any of these additives in ice cream, do yourself a favor and put it back on the shelf…

Gut wrecking emulsifiers: Most ice creams are full of emulsifiers that have been shown to disrupt the good bacteria in your gut and can lead to disease and obesity. Companies use these because it’s cheaper than filling their product with 100% whole food ingredients. Of course the main ingredients in ice cream (cream and sugar) are also linked to obesity, but when you eat the real thing you feel more satisfied and are less likely to down an entire pint. 

Some of the worst emulsifiers in ice cream…

Artificial Colors: Whenever you see a color like Red 40, Red 3, Yellow 5, or Blue 1, these are derived from petroleum and linked to several health issues including allergies, cancer, and hyperactivity in children

Mono and Diglycerides (or Partially Hydrogenated Oils): These contain trans fat which is strongly correlated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The CDC has linked trans fat to at least 20,000 heart attacks per year and the Institute of Medicine says there is no safe level to eat. This additive is often found in low-fat ice creams where they are trying to make up for what they took out, but you’ll find it in many others too!  

Sugar Alcohols and Zero-Calorie Sweeteners: “No Sugar Added” and “Carb Smart” ice creams are packed sugar alcohols like maltitol syrup and sorbitol. These are associated with destroying gut heath, and a healthy gut is the key to good health and a slim waistline. Artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium have been shown to contribute to weight gain by encouraging sugar cravings. When you eat something sweet – even when it has no calories – your brain is tricked into wanting more calories because your body is not getting enough energy (i.e. calories) to be satisfied. So you keep craving sweets, eating sweets, and gaining weight. They also come with serious health risks

Artificial flavors: These synthetic flavors are made from proprietary chemicals to make fake food taste real. This is not a single ingredient – each flavor may contain of up to 100 ingredients, including synthetic chemicals, solvents and preservatives such as BHA, propylene glycol, MSG, parabens, and more.

These ice cream brands look healthier… BUT…

Natural Flavors: The only difference between natural and artificial flavors mentioned above, is that natural flavors are derived from things found in nature (such as beaver glands). Just like artificial flavors, they are created in a lab by a team of scientists and can contain up to 100 hidden ingredients. The bottom line: You have no idea what you are eating – and it might be propylene glycol, BHA, and parabens.

Soybean Oil: This unhealthy oil increases the risk of obesity, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. When it comes to organic Soymilk ice creams, an abundance of soy itself is not healthy in the diet as it can disrupt hormones and lead to disease. Soy also has an abundance of phytic acid that leaches calcium and other vital minerals from your body.

Cottonseed Oil: I was shocked to find cottonseed oil in LaLoo’s Capraccino Almond Fudge Ice Cream. This oil generally comes from GMO cotton crops that require an intense application of agricultural chemicals and have been called the “World’s Dirtiest Crop”. Residues from these pesticides can remain in cottonseed oil and cottonseeds are subjected to intensive chemical refining with toxic hexane, bleach, and deodorizers. I consider it one of the worst ingredients in food.

“Sugar” Instead of “Cane Sugar”: The majority of sugar in this country comes from GMO sugar beets and not from cane. These sugar beets are Roundup-Ready, which means they are sprayed with the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) and don’t die. Whenever an ingredient list just says “sugar” instead of “cane sugar” that indicates it’s from GMO sugar beets. When my team contacted LaLoo’s Goat Milk Ice Cream they said their ingredients are “clean” and that they’re currently working on getting verified by the Non-GMO Project. But, unless you see that label on there, consider it unverified

Conventional (not organic) Dairy: Some brands like Breyer’s, Tillamook and Häagen-Dazs have some flavors with cleaner ingredient lists with fewer additives, but they don’t use organic cream or milk. I outline all of the reasons to only choose organic dairy products in this post

Häagen-Dazs has a non-GMO claim on their ice cream, but that doesn’t apply to the cream, milk, or eggs, in that the animals were likely raised on GMO feed. Their non-GMO claim is 3rd party verified by SGS and their standards don’t apply to animal feed – and a rep from Häagen-Dazs confirmed this with us. Ben and Jerry’s is another brand that uses non-GMO ingredients, but admits the cows are still fed GMO grains (but are trying to transition and hopefully will).

Why to avoid dairy from GMO-fed cows:

  • Almost all non-organic dairy cows in this country are fed a diet of GMO grains on a factory farm. I call this “Monsanto Milk” because it is produced with a lot of GMOs which put more money in Monsanto’s pocket (and I don’t want to donate any money to them!). 
  • Testing has found other pesticides, antibiotics and drugs (sources: 1, 2) in conventional milk (including ones that are banned), and this is what you could be eating when you eat non-organic ice cream.

Organically raised cows are only permitted to eat organic non-GMO food and organic grass. Ultimately, you want to look for certified organic ice cream to avoid dairy raised with herbicide-laden GMOs, hormones, antibiotics and all the drugs that are prohibited on organic farms.

Let’s discuss HALO TOP Ice Cream…

I’ve gotten a lot of emails about Halo Top because they market themselves as a healthier alternative to regular ice cream that’s low-calorie, high-protein, and low-sugar… and they are REALLY POPULAR right now. This brand has a real “Health Halo” around it (haha), but I’m not buying it. They’ve done such a great job marketing it as healthy ice cream that some people are even treating it like a diet food and the founder says he eats it every morning… which sounds just crazy, but who wouldn’t like to have ice cream for breakfast, LOL. Here’s why that really isn’t a good idea (sorry guys!)…

  1. Halo Top does not use organic cream or milk, which means it is likely made with Monsanto Milk (from cows fed GMOs). Their ice creams also contain non-organic eggs, which likewise, probably comes from chickens fed a diet filled with GMOs and possibly other drugs.

Email from Halo Top (May 2017): “We do use only non-GMO ingredients in Halo Top, and the cows from which we get our dairy ingredients are never treated with growth hormones (like rBST). We’re not yet at a point, though, where we can guarantee the makeup of the grain for the cows’ feed across the supply chain. Working on it though!”

  1. Halo Top uses natural flavors and won’t tell you what’s in them. While this is true for pretty much everyone who uses natural flavors because they are considered proprietary, a member of the Food Babe Army sent me the response they got from Halo Top:

“Hey Vani I felt like this was something that needed to be shared. Halo ice cream that I feel like has been pitching themselves as a healthier ice cream won’t disclose what their “natural flavoring” is. Thought you’d like to know their cop out response: Hi Alyssa! I inquired into the flavorings for you, and it turns out that apparently the flavorings industry is highly competitive, and the flavoring makers we work with keep their exact formula proprietary to themselves for competitive reasons. Even so, we of course require confirmation that the flavors are indeed all-natural, gluten-free, kosher, etc. I know it’s not exactly the answer you were looking for but I hope it helps a little!”

  1. Halo Top uses the sugar alcohol erythritol as its primary sweetener. As more people are recognizing and avoiding artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, food companies are replacing it with erythritol… but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. This additive can wreak havoc on healthy gut bacteria. This can lead to a whole host of diseases and if you’re trying to lose weight or stay slim, keeping your gut healthy is vital! Erythritol is also a powerful insecticide known to cause diarrhea, stomach upset, headache when consumed in “normal amounts”.
  1. Why add fiber to ice cream? This just makes it all too easy to think of Halo Top as some sort of health supplement, when in reality, ice cream shouldn’t be eaten every day (or for breakfast!) and we should be getting our fiber naturally from fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and not from processed fiber additives that were manufactured in a lab. The industry calls these “functional fibers” but they do not function in your body the same as fiber in real food. 

Is Arctic Zero Healthier? 

Arctic Zero is another “healthy” ice cream that really isn’t. They claim their whey comes from a “GMO-free region” but that doesn’t guarantee how the cows are fed:

Email from Arctic Zero (May 2017):We have no control over what the cows are fed, but please know we get all our whey protein from a GMO-free region. Our whey protein is GMO-free certified before added to our product and our final product is tested for GMO and it is GMO-free. Please know that our whey protein is not produced from genetically modified organisms, and does not consists of, or contain genetically modified organisms. Therefore, our whey protein is certified GMO-free”.

Arctic Zero is not 100% organic, the whey isn’t from organic cows, and it also contains processed “functional fiber” additives and not-so-natural flavors, so I don’t consider this a good choice. 

When shopping for ice cream, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is it certified organic?

  2. Is it flavored naturally with vanilla bean, lemon, cinnamon, cocoa, etc.? Or, did they take a shortcut with “natural flavors”?

  3. Is it made entirely with whole food ingredients? Or, does it contain additives you don’t have in your kitchen like carrageenan, yellow #5, erythritol, and mono and diglycerides?

If a product doesn’t meet that test, seek out a better brand (there are several!) Here are some of my favorites…

NOTE: Not every flavor by these brands is perfect and you still need to read the ingredient list to make sure you know what you are eating.

  • Three Twins Organic Ice Cream – This is my favorite store-bought organic ice cream and they have a lot of flavors to choose from. A few of them contain natural flavors, but most are flavored naturally with real ingredients like banana, vanilla extract, cinnamon, peppermint extract, etc. – Just check the ingredient list!
  • Alden’s Organic Ice Cream – Know that they do use guar gum, locust bean gum and xantham gum, so not exactly the best choice but they are widely available to most people.
  • Local Organic and Grass Fed Ice Cream – Your local farmers market or natural food stores may carry ice cream made from grass-fed cows on small family farms in your area. Seek these out.
  • Homemade Banana Ice Cream – Just add frozen bite-sized pieces of a very ripe banana to a powerful blender or food processor and puree until it comes to a creamy consistency. This may take a few minutes. It’s that easy and really satisfies an ice cream craving! You can try adding coconut milk, nut butter, cinnamon, cocoa, or vanilla to change it up. Just blend these in after you puree the bananas well. 

What’s your favorite ice cream brand? Tell me in the comments!

Share this post with all of your ice cream loving friends and enjoy a (healthier) bowl of ice cream with them soon! 




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157 responses to “Is There Really A Healthy Ice Cream Brand?

  1. Thank you so much for writing this.. I was one of those people asking you about Halo Top.. Today I made my own ice cream. A honey Lavender and the only ingredients were organic cream, organic half and half, lavender buds I got straight off the farm that doesn’t use pesticides, honey from a friend that keeps bees, organic egg yolks, and vanilla.. so I will know what’s in our ice cream from now on.. so many recipes and flavors that can be made with real fresh organic ingredients.. Ans since it should just be a treat once in a while, home made is the best..

    1. Oh I am so happy we were to investigate it and spread awareness. Your ice cream sounds delicious!

      1. How about organic wegman’s ice cream? They only have: organic cream, organic skim milk, (if chocolate: organic chocolate base: organic sugar, water, organic cocoa, organic tapioca syrop, organic cocoa extract); organic sugar, organic egg yolks, organic coffee & vanila extract

    2. Are you aware that exploiting animals for food products is cruel, not only to the animals but to your own health especially. Dairy causes bone loss, heart disease, stroke, cancer, kidney disease… do I need to keep going? YouTube search “Dairy is scary”

      1. we are vegan I make our ice cream out of frozen bananas and fruit. It works well for us. And its it all orgainic

      2. I totally agree abt the animals,also their dna stays in our bodies..

  2. Great article! I started making the banana ice cream using the frozen bananas about a year ago. I absolutely love the taste and the texture is like soft serve ice cream. I don’t feel sick like I used to when I would eat the store bought kind. I love adding organic chocolate chips and some peanut butter too!

    1. Me too!
      I also do frozen mangos with the bananas and drizzle cherry , strawberry or blueberry juice on top
      Love the chocolate idea ❤️

  3. Would be glad to send you samples of Brio ice cream! Please take a look at our website, where you can find full ingredient panels. Brio is made of organic whole milk, with added probiotics and vitamins, patented blend of natural sweeteners ( is low glycemic!)

  4. Brio ice cream is the best tasting and nutritious ice cream, please check out our website, where you can find full ingredient panels. Made with organic whole milk, with added probiotics and vitamins, low glycemic blend of natural sweeteners .

    1. Guar gum not healthy………In July 2007, the European Commission issued a health warning to its member states after high levels of dioxins were detected in a food additive – guar gum.

    1. Where does Turkey Hill source the milk they use? Is it from organic, grass fed cows or large CAFOs?

    2. there is only one kind of turkey hill brand I will buy,it has only 3 or 4 ingred..

  5. Such a great article Vani, and so needed! Thank you!! Im reposting on our media. Have you heard about REVIVAL ICE CREAM? Its not in stores, but we do ship. Check it out….All made with Certified Organic ingredients, only whole foods ( fruits, vegetables, chocolate ), never ever any flavorings, stabilizers or anything you can’t pronounce or understand. All mad with Love for people and planet with the highest quality ingredients in Monterey, CA.

      1. That price is okay. The reason they make and sell ice cream with crappy ingredients is because people balk at paying for organic. Organic ingredients require more work in that you can’t spray them with herbicides and pesticides. It’s a whole different labor-intensive practice and we need to rethink our cheap Walmart minds and pay the price for healthy food. The cost is chronic illness brought on by poisoning our bodies with cheap food is far greater.

  6. What about frozen yogurt? I don’t really like ice cream. I don’t like the taste of fat.

  7. Can you make homemade ice cream with anything other than coconut milk. To me that is all you taste. Thanks

  8. Hi Vani, my husband asked me to ask you what ice cream you would recommend for a type 2 diabetic ? Still not sure after reading about these that you’ve spoken of. Thank you! Love and appreciate all you’re doing❤️

    1. The homemade coconut milk one would probably be best – contains a lot less sugar that typical store-bought! Always check with your health care provider for more specific dietary restrictions for diabetics.

      1. Health Care Provider ?
        Health care providers know less about Nutrition and Healthy Food than the teacher in a High School Science Class…..
        I have more faith in you Vani about Nutrition and what I eat than my healthy care provider ….

  9. Non-Dairy blender ice cream, with varieties:
    Put frozen fruit into blender *
    Pour grapefruit juice just under the top
    Start blender and drop in ice cubes (made with ginger water for me)
    peanut butter
    finely ground chocolate beans (Amazon has them)
    chocolate syrup in the frozen mix turns into grains of chocolate sand
    This makes ice cream, or a drink if you use fewer ice cubes. It tastes like milk shake.
    *Strawberries, or blueberries, bananas with vanilla extract. Frozen peaches to which you add ‘vanilla butter nut’ extract (made for pound cakes) makes a cantaloupe flavor..

    Do you like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?
    Put your liquid of choice into blender
    Put a banana (does’t have to be frozen, and it doesn’t have to be old) into the blender. Put a cup or more of blueberries, frozen, in.
    why protein powder, optional, up to 8 tablespoons
    gobs of peanut butter
    Start blender,add ice cubes to the desired consistency, adding the ground chocolate beans (or cocoa), and add some chocolate syrup. Not Hershey’s, real chocolate syrup.
    This makes a lot, a whole blender full. It is very satisfying. A big glass of this in the morning, I would not be hungry until at least 3 p.m. It tastes just like a super rich Dove bar crossed with a Reese’s peanut butter cup.

  10. Glad (hate) that I read this, I have been eating and loving Halo Top. I thought it was good. I am sick of eating stuff that has no taste because all the stuff that tastes good is not good for you.

  11. Thank You for this article. I buy So Delicious coconut milk ice cream bars with a chocolate coating. Ingredients seem to be good.

    1. Yes, I do too. They taste outstanding, somewhat comparable to the Hagen Daz bars, which I haven’t had for the last 15 years. They are also a reasonable size. And 13 Net Carbs, so I do plan that in the scheme of things on the Cronometer on days I choose to indulge. I also love the Three Twins Salted Carmel but alas it is really difficult to do portion control!! I go for the bars. Also sometimes get Aldens, very tasty also. Thank you, Vani

  12. I like Stonyfield’s frozen yogurt. Tastes great and satisfies me like ice cream with fewer calories. So far prefer double chocolate think it’s called. An even healthier choice is Lifeway frozen yogurt. Love strawberry. I like to add nuts on top of the chocolate to get my nuts in. And fresh fruit tastes great on the Lifeway flavors. What do you think? Good choices?

  13. Like you, Vani, I’ve read the labels, have not liked what I saw there and I have come to the conclusion that I just need to make my own from scratch. It takes longer but I know exactly what is in it…organic, real food ingredients.

  14. I was so glad to scroll down and see Three Twins. In a pinch I’ve had Alden’s or Julie’s too, but I’ve been a big fan of Three Twins for a few years – sooo yummy! And the few times I’ve had ice cream when out with friends (meaning, who knows what all I ate), it made me feel extremely… uncomfortable… let’s say. Shortly after eating those who-knows-what ice creams, I did not feel good, so I don’t do that anymore.

  15. I don’t know if I should be sad or happy. Happy because I will not eat any more Ice Cream – so much for Haagen. Sad because none of the brands that are passable are sold here. Ugggg! Well I needed to brake the habit any way… Good work Vini

  16. Thank you for this article especially with warm weather coming soon. Did you follow your meal plans while pregnant?

  17. I am soooo happy Alden’s Organic is on your good list. I refused to buy ice cream for my family because of all the junk in them until last week when I picked up Alden’s Organic and we fell in love with it.

  18. I was very disappointed to read about Haagen Daas my favorite ice cream. My 2nd favorite wasn’t listed Friendlys but now I have a guide to follow. Never thought of the importance of organic milk. Thank you for this information. I eat a lot of ice cream.

  19. UGH! I thought So Delicious was ok – I dont do dairy or soy or gluten – I have been eating the So Delicious Coconut milk Ice Cream – is that also not good? Thanks for posting this I will be on the look out for these other brands !

    1. This one has many different “gums” which are not healthy and not good for you. They are linked to “leaky gut” and stomach sensitivities

  20. Can you share any recipes to make your own ice cream? I have an ice cream machine, have used organic cane sugar as the sweeter, but open to new recipe ideas.


  21. Ice cream is wonderful when made with JUST PLANTS: sugar used is DATES,
    FRUITS (all), organic tofu,
    Soy, organic tofu, tempeh, edamame IS VERY HEALTHY!!! THERE IS A PREPONDERANCE PROOF both scientific and medical that proves this. Its the isolate soy and pea proteins that are not as healthy and should be eaten VERY sparingly if at all.
    Make your healthy and delicious ice cream with fruits, beans, seeds, nuts, dates, and organic (always) soy tofu. There are MANY recipes of these ingredients. It is a big part of what I teach as a Whole Food Plant-Based certified instructor. Contact me for some of my delicious healthy quick and easy ice cream recipes: [email protected]

  22. There are many brands listed here that I’ve never heard of, but the list of “healthy” ice creams is limited. I remember that Louis Sherry produced a sugar-free ice cream that was delicious but I can no longer find it. I would have to say that the worst ice cream you could buy comes from the local truck, which is also very expensive.

  23. Great article. I was surprised not to see Stonyfield Organic ice cream (or frozen yogurt for that matter) on your recommended list. They a very responsible brand. Please let us know your thoughts. Thanks.

  24. A great offering, Vani! Thank you. I don’t eat much ice cream, but this exploration is vitally critical for everything we eat. Bless you. <3

  25. I’ve been a fan of Luna & Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss ice cream for a number of years. Tastes like high -quality “real” ice cream to me…..along the lines of Ben & Jerry’s or Haagen Dazs, but very healthy. Love their Galactic Mint, Cherry Amaretto and more! Other than the agave, which some health experts think is fine to eat and others don’t, it’s about as clean/healthy as I’ve found. Wish they would make some flavors w/ another kind of natural sweetener for those that might think agave is bad.
    p.s. Haven’t heard of Three Twins….will have to see if it’s available in my area.

  26. My daughter was diagnosed with ulcer colitis what good foods good for that we don’t like the hash medicine.


  27. Strauss Chocolate Ice Cream is my favorite-no junk at all and dairy from grass fed cows. You can actually taste it (a little gamy)
    Julie’s ice cream sandwiches, etc are OK but way too sweet
    Haagen Daz needs to go organic. I love their chocolate ice cream pops with the dark chocolate covering but only eat them once in a while due to their not being organic

  28. You folks in California enjoy the Revival Ice Cream. Sounds great, but sadly, to order on-line, it’s $60.00 for 4 pints (that’s one-half gallon) and $84.00 for the cheapest delivery (2-day). $144.00 divided by 4 = $36.00 per pint. Truly a local delicacy and not meant for the rest of the States.

  29. Dr Michael Greger recommends Erythritol as the only safe sweetener. I recommend you check his or his book, ” How not to Die” for more info on it. Very different than what you have written here.

  30. Golly, you’ve banned just about every ice cream brand on the shelf. My friend and I have been purchasing Halo and feeling good about ourselves. I’m open to healthier brands, but I would have like to see the same ingredient detail on the “healthy” suggestions, otherwise, it is just click bait. Why are the brands you prefer so much better?

  31. Thank you for this article Vani! A few weeks ago I started buying YASSO Greek Yogurt Bars as a “healthy” alternative to ice cream. I just read the ingredients and it contains Soy. I’ve been feeling horrible. I’m not suppose to have soy due to Hoshimotos disease. I will no longer assume something is healthy….and will read labels from now on.
    Thanks again!!

  32. Hi Vani! Amazing article and exactly to the point! There are 422 frozen dessert manufacturers in the USA, of which only about 50 make nondairy alternatives, and only 1 uses exclusively plant based whole foods with no processed sugars or additives of any kind – MUD!
    ‘Eat MUD’ is a new company in NYC- dates make us sweet 🙂 We reached out to you a couple of weeks ago and are working on getting samples out to you very soon! Looking forward to connecting. Mindfully, Miriam

  33. Hi Vani:
    I live in FL and we have lots of Publix stores who have their own Organic Greenwise brand of Ice cream, among a few other items. I’m hooked on it please check it out and let us know your thoughts.. Thanks!!

  34. Vani, I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio where Graeters ice cream was and still is considered the best tasting and most natural ice cream you can buy. Certainly fattening but made without artificial ingredients and absolutely delicious. My mother, who will be 101 next month, eats 2 scoops of Graeters Vienna coffee ice cream everyday. Could you take a look at Graeters and give us your analysis. Thank you so much.

  35. I follow your blog, but in the post you completely lost me as I dont think we can consider healthy an icecream that contains sugar, and all of them do. Even the ones you show as healthy or that have agave on it, they contain cane sugar. Cane sugar is still sugar, and sugar has been linked to cause many diseases…
    I was disappointed to see that the healthy alternatives are not really healthy. I dont eat sugar, processed or refined foods. I will keep making my own ice creams 🙂

  36. It’s 2017 and people are still recommending eating the breast milk from another species? That is insanity. Youtube search #dairyisscary you’re welcome!

  37. I’m going to try adding chocolate bone broth (powdered form) to my homemade ice cream next time! Get it from Epigenetic Labs.

  38. I use the YoNana machine to make frozen fruit my “Ice Cream” of choice now. I take fruit and freeze it in sizes that fit the feeding tube of the YoNana and then put a bunch through the YoNana when I have time….fill Ice trays with the frozen fruit mix pop those into the freezer and when solid pop them out into bags. Then when I want my “ice cream” I pop a few different flavors into a bowl add currants, nuts, blueberries, etc…and enjoy.

  39. I read the reply from Halo about the competitive flavorings industry. I am not happy with that. Who knows what is going on in their labs? Natural ought to mean Natural or real. I think we should avoid their form of natural. Food companies can do better than this or we should go to real foods and real flavors ourselves and stop being lazy so we end up buying who knows what!

  40. With summer upon us, which also means ice cream, thank you for the article. I try to make my own but when time doesn’t permit I also like Whole Foods ice cream. They have a short list of ingredients, unlike all those other ice creams you listed above. Yikes!

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