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.
Added comment, April 9: Does freezing kill probiotic bacteria? Yes it does, although “most” is an exaggeration. As I discuss is What to Eat, the National Yogurt Association standards for regular yogurt require 100 million live bacteria per gram; its standard for frozen yogurt is 10 million bacteria per gram – a ten-fold decrease. In bacterial terms, both are small numbers. In any case, these bacteria may be good for you (and I emphasize the uncertainty), but watch out for the calories!