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What Is in Walmart Ice Cream Sandwiches and Why Don’t They Melt?

USA Today reports that extremely complex and visually stunning ice cream treats are trending right now. The popularity of these colorful castles of sugar and dairy is likely to surge as spring turns to summer. Such items may look impressive but they have no role in a healthy diet. The good news is there are healthier alternatives. The avocado ice cream recipe above is an excellent example of how easy it is to make a delicious and healthy treat.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Wal-Mart Great Value brand ice cream sandwich. Aesthetics certainly don’t seem to matter with this seemingly straight forward ice cream sandwich, but in many ways, it is far more complex than its upscale brethren. Unfortunately, this complexity is found entirely on its questionable ingredient list.

The Wal-Mart ice cream sandwich has one big advantage over the decadent sundaes that foodies are photographing and restaurants are charging a premium for: It does not melt. A spokesperson for Wal-Mart said that this is due to the high cream in content in their product, but it seems likely that the real cause can be found further down the ingredient list:

“Ice Cream (Milk, Cream, Buttermilk, Sugar, Whey, Corn Syrup, Contains 1 [percent] Or Less of Mono-And Diglycerides, Vanilla Extract, Guar Gum, Calcium Sulfate, Carob Bean Gum, Cellulose Gum, Carrageenan, Artificial Flavor, Annatto For Color)

Wafers (Wheat Flour, Sugar, Soybean Oil, Palm Oil, Cocoa, Dextrose, Caramel Color, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Flour, Food Starch-Modified, Salt Soy Lecithin, Baking Soda, Artificial Flavor).”

The exact amount of cream these sandwiches contain in comparison to other brands is not given, but it is suspicious that the spokesperson made no mention of the long list of "gums" and additives, like corn syrup, that might also contribute to its odd inability to melt.

There is something unsettling and (literally) unnatural about an ice cream sandwich that doesn't melt on a hot summer day. That it contains ingredients like carrageenan is also cause for alarm.

More than 1.5 million Americans suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is an autoimmune condition that involves inflammation in your digestive tract and includes both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Food additives such as carrageenan have been shown to induce low-grade inflammation, metabolic syndrome and colitis in mice.

Before ordering an ornate ice cream treat at a restaurant or picking up a heat-resistant “ice cream” bar from Wal-Mart, consider the impact they can have on your health. Instead, consider eliminating all processed foods in your diet.

If you're at all health-conscious you're probably already aware of the many drawbacks to processed foods, including excess sugar — often high fructose corn syrup — refined grains, genetically engineered ingredients, soybean oil and emulsifiers like carrageenan. Each of these has the potential to disrupt your health and in many cases researchers are only beginning to understand how and why.

Carefully consider the impact that both fanciful ice cream treats and the heat-resistant Wal-Mart “ice cream” bars can have on your health. This banana ice cream recipe is another alternative that is preferable to anything you can buy from a store. 

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