A team of scientists from Penn State University, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Connecticut are looking into ways to make ice cream healthier.

The scientists are investigating the possibility of adding Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce levels of blood fats linked with cardiovascular disease, to products such as ice cream, processed meats and salad dressing. Researchers at Harvard University are to evaluate the products that the project develops.

The researchers say the problem is not how to get the Omega-3s into ice cream, but how to keep the ice cream tasting like ice cream. They are hopeful, however, that this can be done. Eric Decker, professor of food science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, said a trial at UMass had produced an Omega-3-fortified yoghurt that tasted like normal yoghurt.

As well as the Omega-3 research, Bob Roberts, associate professor of food science at Penn State University, is also looking at ways of adding probiotic microbes, similar to the bacteria found in yoghurt, to ice cream. Some probiotic microbes can aid digestion, boost the immune system and fight harmful bacteria, reported the Associated Press.

Decker also said that he hopes the technology for fortifying ice cream with Omega-3 fatty acids would cost manufacturers just pennies per serving, and so will draw interest from the food industry.