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Haagen-Dazs rises to top of light ice cream

August 6, 2008

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Fat may be bad for you, but it sure tastes good. Consumer Reports sampled 10 light ice creams, and even among these more healthful options, the two with the most fat and calories were the winners.

Best in both vanilla and chocolate flavors was Haagen-Dazs Extra Rich Light.

"Light" means a food contains one-third fewer calories or half the fat of a regular version.

A "low fat" serving has 3 grams or less of fat; a "lower fat" or "reduced fat" serving contains at least 25 percent less fat than a regular version; and a "fat free" serving has less than a half-gram of fat.

Both Haagen-Dazs Extra Rich Light in vanilla bean and Dutch chocolate are a relative splurge. They were rated Very Good by CR and were better tasting than the other brands tested, but had about twice the calories and fat (200 calories for both flavors; 7 grams of fat for vanilla bean and 5 grams for Dutch chocolate). Still, a serving of Haagen-Dazs Extra Rich Light pares 70 calories and more than 10 grams of fat from regular Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

Consumers should expect to spend more for a better taste - Haagen-Dazs Extra Rich Light in vanilla bean and Dutch chocolate costs about twice as much per serving as the other brands tested - about $1 per half-cup serving.

Next best in vanilla and chocolate was Breyers Double Churn Light Creamy. Both flavors did well in CR's taste tests and were lighter on the wallet (about 43 cents a serving) and on the diet (100 calories and about 3 grams of fat).

Among the other light ice creams CR rated Good were Breyers Free Double Churn in creamy vanilla, Breyers Free Double Churn in French chocolate and Turkey Hill Light Recipe in vanilla bean.

A surprise ingredient in some ice creams: fiber. Breyers Free has 3 to 4 grams per serving, as does Blue Bunny. But don't toss the bran cereal. Breyers Free and Blue Bunny weren't especially tasty.

According to Consumer Reports, ice-cream cartons are losing weight. The traditional half-gallon carton, which previously shrank to 1.75 quarts, is now down to 1.5 quarts for Breyers, Dreyer's/Edy's and Turkey Hill.

CR's take? When it's time to indulge, try one of the Haagen-Dazs Extra Rich Lights. Just limit the indulgence (a 200-calorie serving is a mere half-cup). To feel a bit more virtuous, try Breyers Double Churn Light Creamy.

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