Healthy Ice Cream

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COLUMBIA - MU researchers in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources are churning up an ice cream with a healthy twist. The product is a traditional ice cream infused with fiber, prebiotics, probiotics and antioxidants, aimed at benefiting the intestinal tract. The ice cream could prevent dangerous pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella.

Research began more than two years ago to find an ice cream with the same taste as traditional ice cream, but with health benefits. Researcher Ingolf Gruen says low-fat and no-fat ice creams have become passe over the past few years, so he began working on a replacement.

The ice cream uses acai, a Brazilian fruit said to have a "chocolatey or woody taste," says Gruen. He also says Americans are not used to the taste of this fruit, because it not like the typical berry fruits eaten by most Americans. Acai is rich in antioxidants, as are blueberries, so Gruen is experimenting with a mixture of the two fruits and an entirely blueberry-based ice cream to satisfy American tastes. The ice cream is currently undergoing taste tests and being modified based on results.

This new ice cream will be featured in Buck's Ice Cream on the MU campus toward the end of this summer. Gruen has been in contact with a dairy company, looking to add his product to their line. But, human observations must be made after the ice cream hits the market to determine if the projected health benefits are a reality. If verified, this dairy company could pick up the product and launch it in grocery stores as early as next year.

Registered Dietitian Kayla Otteson says that regardless of the new benefits, customers need to keep in mind that ice cream is still high in fat and calories, so it should be eaten only as an occasional treat.