Traditional ice cream is made with heavy cream, which is loaded with saturated (bad) fat, sometimes as much as 10 grams per half cup! Add in the trans fat (also bad) found in the cookie and chocolate chip pieces often mixed in, and you've got a recipe for heart-clog in a bowl! The occasional splurge is fine, in my humble opinion, but if you're closely watching your diet, or have a serious ice cream habit, there are some tasty options that are a little better for you.
1. Low fat doesn't necessarily mean low taste. Some of the low fat options taste pretty darn good, and usually contain only 120 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per serving.
2. Skip the cookie, cookie dough, and chocolate chip versions, due to the high trans (very bad; see above) fat content. Ice cream with fresh fruit, preferably fruit you add yourself, is a tasty and much wiser choice.
3. Frozen yogurt. Half a cup generally contains 100 calories and less than 2 grams of saturated fat. Just be sure to read the label and watch for ultra-high sugar content. Often what you lose in fat, you gain in sugar, which is equally troublesome.
4. Soy dream! Try some of the many ice creams made with soy or rice milk. Yummy! Again, watch out for calorie and sugar content.
5. Popsicles. I used to love those Jell-O pudding pops when I was a kid. The popsicle inventory contains sugar-free and fat-free options ranging from creamy chocolate and vanilla types to natural fruit types. (and don't forget push-ups!) Obviously the healthiest options are made from real fruit, but you can also find more indulgent options without a lot of guilt attached.
6. Other: Sorbet and gelato both make for excellent summer treats; if you go for the latter, find out whether your dessert is made with whole or low fat milk.