Great News: Your Ice Cream Is Alive!

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Now here's news we've all been waiting for: Brazilian food scientists have invented probiotic ice cream. Probiotics, as you no doubt have heard, are bacteria like the ones that ferment milk into yogurt. These are supposed to do great things for your health. As I discuss in What to Eat, there is some--but not terribly compelling--evidence to back up this claim.

This product apparently looks and tastes like ice cream, but supposedly replaces nasty bacteria in your intestines with friendlier types.

But wait!

I thought freezing killed off most of those friendly bacteria. Frozen yogurt has less fat than ice cream, but it also has way fewer bacteria than regular yogurt. If this stuff ever gets onto the market, I'll bet its makers advertise the number of bacteria they put into the ice cream, but don't say a word about how few survived freezing and storage.

Functional foods (those designed to have some nutritional benefit beyond the nutrients in the food) are about marketing, not health. They are supposed to make you feel good while eating lots of ice cream. I don't need probiotics to feel good about eating ice cream. Especially ginger ice cream. Or peach.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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