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Ice cream vs Custard - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Ice cream
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Custard

Introduction

Ice cream is one of the most famous refreshing desserts. It is mainly made with cream, milk/milkfat, sugar, and flavourings. Ice cream is considered as a dairy dessert, mainly due to the fact that it’s made with butterfat, milk/milk fat or cream.

There are different types of ice cream, other than flavours, the fat content can make a difference. Ice cream can be sold as light fat, reduced fat, low, and full fat. The lowest fat content of ice cream is the light fat which contains 5% milk fat. The upper range of fat content is 10-15%.  

There can be different ice cream flavors, from fruity flavors like banana, strawberry, melon, to creamy flavors like brownies, vanilla, and chocolate.

Custard is not very different from ice cream as they have the same basic ingredients; milk, cream, and sugar. However, an additional main ingredient is added on custard which is egg yolk. Flour or cornstarch can also be added as ingredients to give it more solid texture, however this is optional. The two most common flavours of custard are vanilla and chocolate. Other flavours can also be available but not as common, these flavors are; raspberry, strawberry, and mango. These flavours are usually in the form of powdered custard and synthetic.

Nutritional content comparison

Fat

The fat content of ice cream is 11g compared to the fat content of custard which is 4g. This makes the fat content of ice cream much higher than custard’s.

Ice cream compared to custard contains higher amounts of saturated fats and monounsaturated fats. However, custard contains more cholesterol and this is due to the additional egg yolk as a main ingredient in it’s preparation.

The daily recommendation of saturated fat is less than 20g. Ice cream’s saturated fat content is 6.79g and custard contains 2.03g of saturated fat.

Milk contains 2.9g of monounsaturated fat compared to custard which contains 1.1g.

Custard, having additional egg yolk in its ingredients, has more cholesterol relative to ice cream. The cholesterol of custard is 51mg compared to ice cream which is 44mg. 

Ice cream has a higher fat content and custard contains higher amounts of cholesterol.

Protein

The protein content of ice cream and custard are nearly similar, with a small difference that is negligible. Ice cream contains 3.5g of proteins compared to custard which contains 3.4g of proteins.



Carbohydrate 

Ice cream compared to custard contains higher amounts of carbohydrates 23.6g, whereas custard contains 17.6g of carbohydrates.

Sugars

Ice cream contains higher amounts of sugars compared to custard, as the sugar content of ice cream at 21.22g and for custard 4.82g.
The sugar content of ice cream is 4.4x higher than that of custard.

Glycemic index

Custard is considered as a low glycemic food, with a glycemic index of 38. On the other hand, ice cream is considered as a medium glycemic index food, with a glycemic index of 61.

Calories

Custard has far less calories per 100g compared to ice cream. Custard has 110 calories whereas ice cream has 313 calories.

Vitamin content comparison

Ice cream and custard have mainly similar vitamin profiles. The similar vitamins are vitamin A, B2, B5 and D.
The vitamin profile of both ice cream and custard are as following:

  • Vitamin A: 421 IU for ice cream and 182 IU for custard
  • Vitamin B2: Similar in both at 0.24mg for ice cream and 0.22mg for custard
  • Vitamin D: 0.2 mcg for ice cream where as for custard its 1.2mcg
  • Vitamin B5: 0.58mg for ice cream and 0.7mg for custard

Thus making ice cream richer in vitamin A and B2, and custard relatively richer in vitamin D and B5.

An additional vitamin that is relatively higher in ice cream than custard is the vitamin C at 0.6mg

The daily requirement is between 65 and 95mg.

Mineral content comparison

Custard and ice cream are composed of similar minerals, however, with different distributions

    • Calcium: custard contains 139mg compared to ice cream which contains 128mg. With a daily requirement of 1000mg
    • Sodium: custard contains 84 mg and ice cream contains 80mg. Similar sodium content for both. 
  • Potassium: Custard contains 207mg of potassium compared to ice cream which contains 199mg. The potassium content similar to sodium can be considered similar for both of them. 
  • Zinc: Custard contains 0.51mg and ice cream 0.69mg. With a daily requirement of 11mg for men and 8mg for women.

An additional mineral present in custard is selenium which is 6mcg with a daily requirement of 55mcg. 

Health impacts

Both ice cream and custard contain cholesterol which must be taken into consideration for individuals who suffer from high cholesterol problems. For individuals with normal cholesterol levels, both should be consumed in moderate amounts. (1)

Ice cream contains probiotic characteristics than influence the gut bacteria, the normal flora. (2)

Acne

The high content of sugars and the high glycemic index of ice cream is related to increased risk of acne development and severity in teenagers. In order to prevent this, moderation of ice cream should be consumed by teenagers or young adults with acne. Alternatives to ice cream with lower amounts of sugar, like custards are a better option. (3)

Diabetes

For diabetic individuals it is preferable to consume custard compared to ice cream due to its lower glycemic index which prevents insulin levels to spike up, and to the lower amounts of sugars. (4)

Varieties

Ice cream has a wider flavour range than custard. Thus it has a higher difference in it’s mineral, vitamin, and micronutrient composition.

A plain vanilla ice cream has a different fat and carbohydrate specifically sugar content compared to strawberry or cheesecake ice cream.

On the other hand, custard can be home-made or bought in powder form. The basic flavors are vanilla and chocolate, however, additional flavors can be found, strawberry and raspberry for example. Usually, there is not much variation in their compositions. 

Custards however, can be found differently around europe, it can range from a common dessert to a gourmet dessert. Different preparation methods can be made, like addition of caramel, chocolate syrup, whipped cream among others. The nutritional profile of all these variations must be taken into consideration while preparing or consuming these types of custards.

Ice cream and custard can be made to be non-dairy with alternative ingredients to milk and eggs in case of custard. Soy milk, almond milk can be used as milk alternatives. Instead of eggs, bananas or other alternatives can be used. This makes the nutritional profile of both desserts highly different, with lower amounts of cholesterol and fats which are of one of the main concerns while consuming these foods.

Another important note on both ice cream and custard is the methods of preparations. Some ice cream and custard producers add additives into them which can be harmful to the gut microbiome and develop problems in the long run. Avoiding ice cream and custards that have additional additives and conservatives in them is recommended. 

Summary

In summary, ice cream is richer in zinc vitamin A, B2 and C. It has higher amounts of carbohydrates, fats, a higher glycemic index and calories. In comparison, custard is richer in calcium, selenium, vitamins D and B5 , and cholesterol. The content of protein, sodium and potassium is similar.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6115945/
  2. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-384947-2.00385-8
  3. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-5945-12-13
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31374573/
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Profession: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: November 29, 2020

Infographic

Ice cream vs Custard infographic
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Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Zinc +35.3%
Contains more Iron +277.8%
Contains more Magnesium +14.3%
Contains more Copper +30.4%
Contains more Phosphorus +23.8%
Equal in Calcium - 139
Equal in Potassium - 207
Equal in Sodium - 84
Contains more Zinc +35.3%
Contains more Iron +277.8%
Contains more Magnesium +14.3%
Contains more Copper +30.4%
Contains more Phosphorus +23.8%
Equal in Calcium - 139
Equal in Potassium - 207
Equal in Sodium - 84

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
:
Contains more Vitamin C +500%
Contains more Vitamin A +131.3%
Contains more Vitamin E +400%
Contains more Vitamin K +50%
Contains more Vitamin D +500%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +48.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +13.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +20.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +33.3%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +33.3%
Contains more Folate, total +80%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.22
Contains more Vitamin C +500%
Contains more Vitamin A +131.3%
Contains more Vitamin E +400%
Contains more Vitamin K +50%
Contains more Vitamin D +500%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +48.8%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +13.8%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +20.3%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +33.3%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +33.3%
Contains more Folate, total +80%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.22

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
11
Ice cream
13
Custard
Mineral Summary Score
16
Ice cream
18
Custard

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Protein
21%
Ice cream
24%
Custard
Carbohydrates
24%
Ice cream
18%
Custard
Fats
51%
Ice cream
18%
Custard

Comparison summary table

Pay attention at the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Ice cream Custard
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Sugars ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins Equal

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Ice cream Custard
Low Calories diet ok
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low glycemic index diet ok

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Ice cream
Ice cream is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 7mg)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Ice cream
Ice cream contains less Sodium (difference - 4mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Ice cream
Ice cream is cheaper (difference - $1.5)
Which food contains less Sugars?
Custard
Custard contains less Sugars (difference - 16.4g)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Custard
Custard is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 4.758g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Custard
Custard is lower in glycemic index (difference - 23)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Custard
Custard is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be definitely stated which food is richer in vitamins. See charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Ice cream Custard Opinion
Calories 207 122 Ice cream
Protein 3.5 3.99 Custard
Fats 11 4 Ice cream
Vitamin C 0.6 0.1 Ice cream
Carbs 23.6 17.6 Ice cream
Cholesterol 44 51 Ice cream
Vitamin D 8 47 Custard
Iron 0.09 0.34 Custard
Calcium 128 139 Custard
Potassium 199 207 Custard
Magnesium 14 16 Custard
Sugars 21.22 4.82 Ice cream
Fiber 0.7 0 Ice cream
Copper 0.023 0.03 Custard
Zinc 0.69 0.51 Ice cream
Starch
Phosphorus 105 130 Custard
Sodium 80 84 Ice cream
Vitamin A 421 182 Ice cream
Vitamin E 0.3 0.06 Ice cream
Vitamin D 0.2 1.2 Custard
Vitamin B1 0.041 0.061 Custard
Vitamin B2 0.24 0.22 Ice cream
Vitamin B3 0.116 0.132 Custard
Vitamin B5 0.581 0.699 Custard
Vitamin B6 0.048 0.064 Custard
Vitamin B12 0.39 0.52 Custard
Vitamin K 0.3 0.2 Ice cream
Folate, total 5 9 Custard
Folic acid (B9) 0 0
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 6.79 2.032 Custard
Monounsaturated Fat 2.969 1.127 Ice cream
Polyunsaturated fat 0.452 0.312 Ice cream
Tryptophan 0.045 0.082 Custard
Threonine 0.146 0.192 Custard
Isoleucine 0.195 0.207 Custard
Leucine 0.316 0.337 Custard
Lysine 0.258 0.214 Ice cream
Methionine 0.081 0.091 Custard
Phenylalanine 0.157 0.173 Custard
Valine 0.217 0.233 Custard
Histidine 0.088 0.092 Custard
Fructose 0 Custard

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented seperately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links of the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Ice cream - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167575/nutrients
  2. Custard - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168773/nutrients

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.