Ice cream, yogurt and some frozen desserts are among the high potassium foods. The potassium to sodium ratio is in the healthful range above 3 to 1 recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Many of them have more than 200 mg of potassium in a serving.
For those who have kidney problems, the high potassium foods are to be avoided. But for the rest of us, they can help provide the 4.7 gm of potassium a day that can reduce the chance of high blood pressure and improve bone density. However, other aspects beyond potassium content are also important, such as the amount of saturated fat, possible additives, the sugar content, and the glycemic index.
Ice cream and yogurt have a low glycemic index being under 40 for almost all varieties, and sometimes under 20, despite almost all the calories coming from carbohydrates, especially sugar. If the dessert is not a low fat or non-fat variety, most of the fat is saturated, so for most of us the low or non-fat version would be best. But because of the high sugar content, there will still be a lot of calories even in the no-fat variety.
The soft ice creams mix in twice the amount of air found in the firmer ice creams to keep them soft. This means they have less of the solid ingredients, resulting in fewer calories per volume of serving.
Of course, home-made ice cream will have no additives, but the commercial brands may have a small amount of gluten added as a stabilizer – important to know if you are gluten sensitive. Sometimes sweeteners, such as sucrose and corn syrup are added, increasing the sugar even more than usual. To reduce the caloric content while retaining sweetness, other sweeteners are sometimes used in ice cream, yogurt and other desserts (not just the frozen ones). Non-caloric or low calorie sweeteners allowed in the U.S. are acesulfame potassium (acesulfame K), aspartame, neotame, rebaudioside A, saccharin and sucralose. Commercial yogurt may have pectin, gelatin, and carrageenan added.
Making your own yogurt can be fairly simple. You begin with a live starter of good plain yogurt- a spoonful is enough. The next batch can come from the last batch and so on. Start with a tablespoon of plain yogurt with active cultures and no additives, or stabilizers. Bring 2 1/2 cups of milk to a boil and then let simmer for 2 minutes. Pour through a strainer or cheesecloth if any milk has burned and let it cool till you can hold your finger in it for 10 seconds. Add a small amount of milk to the spoonful of yogurt in a dish and then whisk the combination into the rest of the milk. Pour into a glass jar and keep warm for about 6 hours. Then chill in the refrigerator until serving.