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Can Heavy Whipping Cream Be Considered A Part Of A Healthy Diet?

When you hear the term heavy whipping cream, you typically tend to think of whipped cream and butter or desserts. Whatever you may think of, it is highly unlikely that you would imagine heavy whipping cream to be part of a healthy diet. Heavy whipping cream is used in many types of cuisines, especially for making butter and whipped cream and also to make your coffee or soup extra creamy. This type of whipping cream is made with the natural separation of raw milk when the fat-rich cream rises to the top of the milk. This raw cream is then pasteurized and homogenized to kill any harmful bacteria and also increase its shelf life. What many people don’t know is that heavy whipping cream is actually full of many nutrients, but of course, at the same time, it is also high in calories. But can heavy whipping cream be considered to be a part of a healthy diet? Let’s take a look.

What is Heavy Whipping Cream?

In order to understand the nutritional profile of heavy whipping cream, it is important to understand what it is first. Heavy whipping cream is basically the high-fat part of dairy milk. It is produced as a result of the natural separation of raw milk, during which this fat-rich cream rises to the top owing to the fat content present. This raw cream is then pasteurized and homogenized to kill any harmful bacteria present in the cream and also to enhance its shelf life. This also improves the stability of the cream.(1, 2, 3)

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Several types of heavy whipping cream contain additives as well to help stabilize the cream and prevent the fat from separating. One such additive is known as carrageenan, which is extracted from seaweed. Another additive that is sometimes used is sodium caseinate, which is the food additive form of casein, which is a milk protein.(4, 5) Heavy and whipping cream are actually quite similar to one another, with the primary difference being in the fat content.

Nutrition Profile & Benefits of Heavy Whipping Cream

Heavy whipping cream is primarily made up of fat, which is why it is high in calories. At the same time, though, it is also rich in fat-soluble vitamins, many minerals, and choline. One half a cup of liquid cream is equal to one cup of whipping cream, or around 120 grams, and contains the following nutrients:(6)

  • Total Calories: 408
  • Fat: 43 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams
  • Calcium: 6% of the Daily Value
  • Choline: 4% of the Daily Value
  • Vitamin A: 55% of the Daily Value
  • Vitamin D: 10% of the Daily Value
  • Vitamin E: 7% of the Daily Value
  • Vitamin K: 3% of the Daily Value
  • Phosphorus: 7% of the Reference Daily Intake
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The type of fat present in heavy whipping cream is known as saturated fat, which has been long believed to be a contributor to heart disease. However, current research has found that it is not always true. There is no data that shows that there is a strong association between dairy fat intake and the development of heart disease. In fact, several emerging studies have even suggested that consuming saturated fat might help protect against heart disease.(7, 8)

Nevertheless, not all researchers and medical experts agree about this, and there is a lot of debate on whether eating saturated fat can reduce or actually increase the risk of heart disease in people.(9, 10) Researchers who analyzed the long-term effect of this could not find any link between the use of full-fat dairy products and an increased risk of heart disease, including stroke and heart attack. However, full-fat dairy was also not found to reduce the risk of heart disease. Although the practice of fat swapping, which replaces high-fat dairy with vegetable fat, was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by ten percent while replacing high far dairy with polyunsaturated fat reduced this risk by 24 percent. Swapping full-fat dairy products for whole grains decreased the risk of heart disease by nearly 28 percent.(11)

Due to this, more research is still needed to investigate the exact role of saturated fat in the development of heart disease.

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Full-fat dairy products contain more fat-soluble vitamins as compared to their low-fat and fat-free alternatives.(12) Furthermore, the body absorbs fat-soluble vitamins better when you consume them with other fats, such as the type of fat contained in heavy whipping cream.(13)

Another nutritious fact about heavy whipping cream is that it is also rich in choline and the vitamins A, D, E, and K. All of these play many important roles in your health. For instance, vitamin A is necessary for maintaining good eye health and to boost your immune function, while choline is vital for brain development in children during the early years. Choline also enhances your metabolism.(14, 15)

Keeping the nutritional profile of heavy whipped cream in mind, it surprises many people to learn that full-fat dairy is actually associated with a reduced risk of obesity. A study carried out in 2014 on more than 1300 participants found that the individuals who consumed the highest amount of full-fat dairy were least likely to be obese as compared to the ones who consumed the lowest amount of full-fat dairy. These individuals were also found to have less belly fat.(16)

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Heavy whipping cream also contains phosphorus and calcium, both of which are necessary for the development of healthy bones.(17)

What are the Uses of Heavy Whipping Cream?

Heavy whipping cream is used in a variety of ways in home cooking as well as food manufacturing. Churning or whipping heavy whipping cream causes the fat molecules to clump together. And after a couple of minutes of whipping, this clumping causes the liquid cream to transform into whipped cream. After churning it for a couple of more minutes, this whipped cream changes into butter.(18, 19, 20)

Another popular dairy product known as buttermilk is also derived from the fluid that is left behind after the heavy whipping cream has been churned into butter.(21)

Heavy whipping cream is frequently also used to add creaminess to baked goods, coffee, soups, and many other recipes. Many people who follow high-fat diets like the ketogenic diet also use heavy whipping cream to add some extra fat to their meals.

Are There Any Drawbacks Of Heavy Whipping Cream?

Heavy whipping cream has a very high-calorie content. It contains 408 calories per half a cup of approximately 120 grams. This is why it is very easy to consume a lot of calories without realizing it if you use this type of cream frequently. Some of the lower-calorie alternatives to heavy whipping cream include whole milk, nut milk, and half-and-half.

It is estimated, though, that over 65 percent of people are lactose intolerant and therefore must avoid heavy whipping cream and other dairy products.(22)

Some research has shown that dairy products like heavy whipping cream may lead to mucus production in many people, even those who do not have an intolerance or an allergy to dairy products.(23) However, more research is still needed to firmly establish a strong association between the two.

A study carried out on 108 adult participants who had excess nasal mucus production concluded that avoiding dairy products helped reduce the mucus production. The study found that the participants who went on a dairy-free diet for six days had significantly lesser symptoms of excessive mucus production as compared to those participants who avoided dairy products for just two days and then went back to having dairy in their diets.(24)

Nevertheless, this continues to be a subject of debate, and many researchers have found no association between the intake of dairy products and an increase in mucus production.(25)

A regular intake of dairy products has also been linked with a higher risk of some types of cancers.(26) For example, a review that included over 8000 people found that the individuals who had the highest dairy intake were nearly 20 percent more likely to develop stomach cancer as compared to those people who had the lowest dairy intake.(27)

One also has to consider that many heavy whipping creams contain some form of additives, such as sodium caseinate and carrageenan. These have been known to cause intestinal damage if consumed in high quantities during test tube and animal studies.(28, 29)

Is Heavy Whipping Cream Healthy?

So is heavy whipping cream healthy for you? Well, heavy whipping cream is definitely very high in calories, but it is also rich in many vitamins and minerals and healthy fat. Since it is usually used in small amounts, such as in recipes that need a bit of creaminess or coffee, it is unlikely to add a surprising amount of calories to your diet.

However, if you are following a calorie-restricted diet, it is better to use a lower-calorie alternative such as half-and-half or nut milk. Or you can restrict your daily intake of heavy whipping cream to just a small amount.

People who are lactose intolerant should avoid heavy whipping cream and other dairy products. And it might be that some people experience an increase in mucus production after having dairy products. If this is the case with you, it is best to avoid heavy whipping cream.

However, if you can tolerate dairy products, you can use heavy whipping cream in small amounts, and it can be a healthy addition to your diet.

At the same time, organic, grass-fed heavy cream is known to be a better choice since grass-fed dairy products are higher in nutrients. They include more healthy fats as well as antioxidants as compared to conventional dairy products.(30, 31, 32)

Conclusion

Heavy whipping cream is often used as a great addition to coffee or in certain recipes to add a dash of creaminess. It can be used to make butter and whipped cream. Full-fat dairy products like heavy whipping cream are rich in nutrients like fat-soluble vitamins, which have been found to reduce the risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease.

However, heavy whipping cream is very high in calories, and people who are lactose intolerant are not able to have it. But if you are able to have dairy products, it is a good idea to use heavy whipping cream in small amounts to make a healthy addition to your diet.

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