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Ice Cream vs. Custard — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on March 21, 2024
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan Article author photo Astghik Baghinyan
Ice cream
vs
Custard

Summary

Ice cream contains around 2 times more calories, 4 times more sugar as well as relatively higher fat and carbohydrate content when compared to custard. 

In terms of vitamins and minerals, ice cream is relatively richer in vitamin A, while custard is richer in vitamin D, selenium, and phosphorus. They have similar amounts of vitamins B2, B5, and B12, as well as calcium and potassium.

Introduction

Ice cream is one of the most famous refreshing desserts. Its main ingredients are sugar, cream, flavoring, and milk. Ice cream is considered a dairy dessert, mainly because it's made with butterfat, milk/milk fat, or cream.

There are different types of ice cream. It can be sold as light fat, reduced fat, low, and full fat. The lowest fat content of ice cream is light fat which contains 5% milk fat. The upper range of fat content is 10-15%.

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

Custard is quite similar to ice cream since they share the same essential ingredients of milk, cream, and sugar. However, what sets custard apart is the addition of a key ingredient – egg yolk. Flour or cornstarch can also be added as an ingredient to give it a more solid texture. 

Custard is typically available in its two most popular flavors: vanilla and chocolate. While other flavors such as raspberry, strawberry, and mango are also available, they are not as commonly found. These less common flavors are usually offered in the form of powdered custard or synthetic variations.

Varieties

Ice cream has a broader flavor range than custard, resulting in a greater variety in its mineral, vitamin, and micronutrient composition.

Plain vanilla ice cream has a different fat and carbohydrate content, specifically in terms of sugar, compared to strawberry or cheesecake ice cream.

On the other hand, custard can be either homemade or purchased in powder form. The main flavors available are vanilla and chocolate, although additional flavors like strawberry and raspberry can also be found. Generally, there is not much variation in the compositions of different flavors of custard.

Custards, however, can be found in different variations across Europe, ranging from typical desserts to gourmet delicacies. They can be prepared using various methods, such as incorporating caramel, chocolate syrup, or whipped cream, among other ingredients. The nutritional profile of all these variations must be considered while preparing or consuming these types of custards.

We can prepare non-dairy versions of both ice cream and custard by using alternative ingredients instead of milk and eggs. Soy milk and almond milk can be utilized as substitutes for milk. Instead of eggs, bananas or other alternatives can be used. The substitution with bananas significantly alters the nutritional profile of both desserts, resulting in lower amounts of cholesterol and fats, which are major concerns when consuming these foods.

Another important point to note about both ice cream and custard is that during production, some companies may use additives, which can be detrimental to the gut microbiome and potentially cause long-term health issues. It is recommended to avoid ice cream and custards that contain additional additives and preservatives.

Nutritional Content Comparison

In this section, we will compare the nutritional composition of vanilla ice cream and egg custard prepared from the dry mix with whole milk

The NLEA serving for ice cream has recently increased from ½ of a cup to ⅔  of a cup (1). This is an equivalent of around 85-120g. This recent change has been made to make the serving sizes closer to what people actually consume in their scoop of ice cream or sherbet.  

The serving size for custard is similar to ice cream; half a cup serving of custard is around 141 grams.

To make the comparison easier, we will be comparing 100-gram servings of each. 

Macronutrients and Calories 

As evident from the macronutrient graphs below, ice cream is slightly more nutrient-dense, with a composition of 61% water, whereas custard consists of 73% water. Ice cream also contains more fats and carbs than custard. 

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Fats +175%
Contains more Carbs +34.1%
Contains more Protein +14%
Contains more Water +20.4%
Equal in Other - 0.96
4% 11% 24% 61%
Protein: 3.5 g
Fats: 11 g
Carbs: 23.6 g
Water: 61 g
Other: 0.9 g
4% 4% 18% 73%
Protein: 3.99 g
Fats: 4 g
Carbs: 17.6 g
Water: 73.45 g
Other: 0.96 g
Contains more Fats +175%
Contains more Carbs +34.1%
Contains more Protein +14%
Contains more Water +20.4%
Equal in Other - 0.96

Calories

For the same amount of serving, custard provides around 2 times lower calories when compared to vanilla ice cream. 

Custard has 122 calories per 100g, while ice cream has 207 calories.

Fat

Per 100-gram serving, the fat content of ice cream is 11g, whereas custard contains only 4g of fat. Thus, ice cream has a higher fat content compared to custard.

Ice cream, compared to custard, contains higher amounts of saturated fats and monounsaturated fats.  However, custard has a slightly higher cholesterol content, primarily attributed to the presence of additional egg yolk as a key ingredient in its preparation. It contains 51mg of cholesterol, whereas ice cream contains 44mg of cholesterol.

The daily recommended intake of saturated fat is typically less than 20g. In a 100-gram serving, ice cream contains 6.79g of saturated fat, while custard contains 2.03g of saturated fat.

Interestingly, per 100-gram serving, milk contains 2.9g of monounsaturated fat, whereas custard contains 1.1g of monounsaturated fat.

Hence, ice cream has a higher fat content, while custard contains higher levels of cholesterol.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +163.4%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +44.9%
Contains less Saturated Fat -70.1%
66% 29% 4%
Saturated Fat: 6.79 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2.969 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.452 g
59% 32% 9%
Saturated Fat: 2.032 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.127 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.312 g
Contains more Monounsaturated Fat +163.4%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +44.9%
Contains less Saturated Fat -70.1%

Protein

The protein content of ice cream and custard is almost identical. Ice cream contains 3.5g of protein per 100-gram serving, while custard contains slightly more, with 3.99g of protein.

Carbohydrate

Ice cream has a higher carbohydrate content of 23.6g per 100-gram serving, while custard contains 17.6g of carbohydrates.

Sugars

Ice cream contains 4 times more sugar than custard. 

Per 100-gram serving, ice cream contains 21.22g of sugar, whereas custard contains only 4.82g of sugar.

Vitamin Content Comparison

Ice cream and custard have mainly similar vitamin profiles. A single serving of neither ice cream nor custard contains significant amounts of any of the vitamins to be considered a significant source of dietary vitamins. However, ice cream does contain adequate amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin B5, and vitamin B2. On the other hand, custard contains adequate amounts of the same vitamins (B12, B5, B2) along with vitamin D

The vitamin profile of both ice cream and custard are as follows per 100-gram servings:

  • Vitamin B2: Similar in both, with 0.24mg in ice cream and 0.22mg in custard.
  • Vitamin B5: Similar in both, with 0.58mg in ice cream and 0.7mg in custard.
  • Vitamin B12: Slightly higher in custard, with 0.39µg in ice cream and 0.52µg in custard. 
  • Vitamin A: Two times higher in ice cream, with 421 IU in ice cream and 182 IU in custard.
  • Vitamin D: Six times higher in custard, with 0.2µg in ice cream and1.2µg in custard. 

Thus, ice cream is relatively richer in vitamin A, while custard is richer in vitamin D. They have similar amounts of vitamins B2, B5, and B12

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin A +131.3%
Contains more Vitamin E +400%
Contains more Vitamin C +500%
Contains more Choline +120.3%
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 Folate +80%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +33.3%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.22
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 26% 6% 6% 2% 11% 56% 3% 35% 12% 4% 49% 15% 1%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 11% 2% 36% 1% 16% 51% 3% 42% 15% 7% 65% 7% 1%
Contains more Vitamin A +131.3%
Contains more Vitamin E +400%
Contains more Vitamin C +500%
Contains more Choline +120.3%
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 Folate +80%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +33.3%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.22

Mineral Content Comparison

Custard and ice cream have similar mineral profiles; however, their distribution is different. The mineral profile of both ice cream and custard are as follows per 100-gram servings:

  • Calcium: Similar in both, with 128mg in ice cream and 139mg in custard.
  • Phosphorus: Slightly higher in custard, with 130mg in custard and 105mg in ice cream.
  • Selenium: Three times higher in custard, with 6µg in custard and 1.8µg in ice cream.
  • Potassium: Similar in both, with 199mg in ice cream and 207mg in custard.
  • Zinc: Similar in both, with 0.51mg in ice cream and 0.69mg in custard.
  • Sodium: Similar in both, with 80mg in ice cream and 84mg in custard.

Thus, custard is relatively richer in selenium and phosphorus. Ice cream and custard have similar amounts of calcium, potassium, zinc, and sodium.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Zinc +35.3%
Contains more Manganese +14.3%
Contains more Iron +277.8%
Contains more Magnesium +14.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +23.8%
Contains more Copper +30.4%
Contains more Selenium +233.3%
Equal in Calcium - 139
Equal in Potassium - 207
Equal in Sodium - 84
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 39% 4% 10% 45% 18% 11% 19% 8% 2% 10%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 42% 13% 12% 56% 19% 11% 14% 10% 1% 33%
Contains more Zinc +35.3%
Contains more Manganese +14.3%
Contains more Iron +277.8%
Contains more Magnesium +14.3%
Contains more Phosphorus +23.8%
Contains more Copper +30.4%
Contains more Selenium +233.3%
Equal in Calcium - 139
Equal in Potassium - 207
Equal in Sodium - 84

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a rating system used for foods containing carbohydrates.

The glycemic index of custard is lower than the glycemic index of ice cream. 

Custard is considered a low glycemic food, with a glycemic index of 35. On the other hand, ice cream is considered a medium glycemic index food, with a glycemic index of 62.

Acidity

One way to understand the acidity of foods is through their potential renal acid load (PRAL) value, which shows how much acid or base the given food produces inside the organism. 

Based on our calculations, the PRAL value of ice cream is -0.6, which means it has a slightly alkalizing effect on the body. In contrast, the PRAL value for custard is 0.2, which means it has a slightly acidifying effect on the body. 

Health Impact

Ice cream exhibits probiotic characteristics that can have an influence on gut bacteria, specifically the normal flora (2).

Acne

The high content of sugars and the high glycemic index of ice cream is related to the increased risk of acne development and severity in teenagers. Ice cream should be consumed in moderation 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. The low glycemic index prevents insulin levels from spiking up (4).

Cardiovascular Health

Section reviewed by cardiologist Astghik Grigoryan Article author photo Astghik Grigoryan

Consuming custard and ice cream can contribute to metabolic syndrome, which in turn causes obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. This significantly increases the risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, and cardiovascular disease-related death.

An increased consumption of full-fat dairy products such as custards and ice cream, as determined by food-frequency questionnaires, was associated with a 32% higher risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease (5).

The American Heart Association advises limiting your daily calorie consumption of saturated fat to 5-6% of total calories. For instance, do not exceed 13 grams of saturated fat daily if your daily caloric intake is 2,000 (6).

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: March 21, 2024
Medically reviewed by Astghik Baghinyan

Infographic

Ice cream vs Custard infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Ice cream Custard
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Rich in minerals ok
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Ice cream Custard Opinion
Net carbs 22.9g 17.6g Ice cream
Protein 3.5g 3.99g Custard
Fats 11g 4g Ice cream
Carbs 23.6g 17.6g Ice cream
Calories 207kcal 122kcal Ice cream
Sugar 21.22g 4.82g Custard
Fiber 0.7g 0g Ice cream
Calcium 128mg 139mg Custard
Iron 0.09mg 0.34mg Custard
Magnesium 14mg 16mg Custard
Phosphorus 105mg 130mg Custard
Potassium 199mg 207mg Custard
Sodium 80mg 84mg Ice cream
Zinc 0.69mg 0.51mg Ice cream
Copper 0.023mg 0.03mg Custard
Manganese 0.008mg 0.007mg Ice cream
Selenium 1.8µg 6µg Custard
Vitamin A 421IU 182IU Ice cream
Vitamin A RAE 118µg 52µg Ice cream
Vitamin E 0.3mg 0.06mg Ice cream
Vitamin D 8IU 47IU Custard
Vitamin D 0.2µg 1.2µg Custard
Vitamin C 0.6mg 0.1mg Ice cream
Vitamin B1 0.041mg 0.061mg Custard
Vitamin B2 0.24mg 0.22mg Ice cream
Vitamin B3 0.116mg 0.132mg Custard
Vitamin B5 0.581mg 0.699mg Custard
Vitamin B6 0.048mg 0.064mg Custard
Folate 5µg 9µg Custard
Vitamin B12 0.39µg 0.52µg Custard
Choline 26mg 11.8mg Ice cream
Vitamin K 0.3µg 0.2µg Ice cream
Tryptophan 0.045mg 0.082mg Custard
Threonine 0.146mg 0.192mg Custard
Isoleucine 0.195mg 0.207mg Custard
Leucine 0.316mg 0.337mg Custard
Lysine 0.258mg 0.214mg Ice cream
Methionine 0.081mg 0.091mg Custard
Phenylalanine 0.157mg 0.173mg Custard
Valine 0.217mg 0.233mg Custard
Histidine 0.088mg 0.092mg Custard
Cholesterol 44mg 51mg Ice cream
Saturated Fat 6.79g 2.032g Custard
Omega-3 - DHA 0g 0.003g Custard
Omega-3 - EPA 0.003g 0g Ice cream
Monounsaturated Fat 2.969g 1.127g Ice cream
Polyunsaturated fat 0.452g 0.312g Ice cream

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Ice cream Custard
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
17%
Ice cream
19%
Custard
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
16%
Ice cream
21%
Custard

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sodium?
Ice cream
Ice cream contains less Sodium (difference - 4mg)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Ice cream
Ice cream is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 7mg)
Which food is cheaper?
Ice cream
Ice cream is cheaper (difference - $1.5)
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Custard
Custard is lower in Sugar (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 - 27)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Custard
Custard is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food 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

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

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