There is nothing better than eating your favorite flavor of ice cream on a hot summer’s day. Ice cream in general is typically the go to guilty pleasure for the majority of people. Some would argue that the fat content in ice cream directly relates to how tasty it is. However, a new study from Penn State has found that people can’t really tell the difference.
When it comes to purchasing ice cream, we never really consider the low-fat option. We know that ice cream isn’t good for us and is high in calories, but we tell ourselves that it’s only a treat. So, we buy the full fat variety.
But does it have to be full fat? This is the question a group of researchers wanted to explore. Their study involved nearly 300 participants eating two vanilla ice cream samples at varying percentages of fat content in a blind taste test.
They found that the participants were unable to distinguish between a two percent difference in fat levels as long as the samples were between the 6–12 percent fat level-range. However, subjects were able to detect a four percent difference between ice cream with 6 and 10 percent fat levels. They were not able to detect a four percent difference in samples between eight and 12 percent fat.
The researchers want to dispel the myth that fatty ice cream tastes better, and their initial study did provide evidence in that respect. They found that there were no differences in consumer acceptability when changing fat content within a certain range. Fat content did not significantly sway a person’s preferences in taste.
They also found that dropping the fat content of ice cream to a lower level of fat—for example, from 14 percent to six percent—did not impact a person’s overall liking of the ice cream.
“Another example of this is how some people might like both regular lemonade and pink lemonade equally. They can tell the difference when they taste the different lemonades, but still, like them both. Differences in perception and differences in liking are not the same thing,” said John Hayes, an associate professor of food science and director of the sensory evaluation center.
Most premium ice creams available for purchase boast not cutting back on the fat content, often costing more as well.
The results of this study show that perhaps paying extra for your ice cream is not entirely worth it, as you will most likely be satisfied with the economical brand.