Cream: Good or Bad?

With boatloads of calories and artery clogging saturated fat, can cream be part of a healthy diet?
175584421

175584421

Milk

Photo by: YelenaYemchuk

YelenaYemchuk

With loads of calories and artery-clogging saturated fat, can cream ever really be part of a healthy diet?

Cream 101

Cream is richer than milk, ivory in color and has a velvety texture. It gives a luscious feel to many dishes, including soups and sauces. The most common types you can pick up at your market are heavy cream, light cream and half-and-half.

Heavy cream is the thickest cream of them all and has a minimum of 36% milk fat. Per half cup, it contains about 414 calories and 28 grams saturated fat.

Light cream (aka coffee cream) has about 20% milk fat and is primarily used in coffee, although it can also be used for baking and in soups. It has about 350 calories per cup and 23 grams saturated fat.

Half-and-half is an equal-parts mixture of cream and whole milk. It contains 10.5% to 12% milk fat. Per cup it has 315 calories and 17 grams saturated fat.

Good?

There can be a place for every type of cream if used wisely. Although heavy cream is brimming with fat, it's the high amount of fat that allows it to be beaten into whipped cream. Whipping ½ cup of heavy cream will yield 1 cup of whipped cream, since air is incorporated when you whip it. Instead of buying processed whipped toppings, take a whisk and make your own.

If you want that creamy texture in soups and baked goods, half-and-half is a lighter choice that you can incorporate for far fewer calories.

Besides the lighter cream options, all creams made from milk contain nutrients like calcium, riboflavin, vitamin A and phosphorus.

Bad?

Much of the fat found in cream comes from saturated fat. Numerous studies have linked too much saturated fat with an increased risk of high  cholesterol. And if you regularly go overboard with cream, your waistline will pay the price. The key to using cream in any dish is to do so in very modest amounts.

The Bottom Line: Modest portions of a high-fat option like cream can have a place in a healthy eating plan. Fat helps add satisfying flavor and texture to your favorite dishes.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »

Keep Reading

Next Up

Coffee Creamer: Good or Bad?

Do you start your morning with a splash of liquid coffee creamer? Find out if that’s a smart way to begin the day.

In The Know: Good Cookin' Good Lookin'

Take a cue from these busy chefs and search your kitchen for makeshift beauty products.

Milk: Good or Bad?

We're talking about cows' milk, that is. Many folks view milk as wholesome and healthy. Others, meanwhile, warn us away and say it's full of hormones or might make you phlegmy. So what’s the deal with milk: does it do your body good or not?

Mayo: Good or Bad?

It’s the quintessential “bad” food laden with artery clogging saturated fat. For years, we’ve been told to “hold the mayo,” but is it really as bad as they say?

Granola: Good or Bad?

Some view granola as an all-star health food, others think it’s belly fat in a box! Here are the pros and cons on this crunchy breakfast staple.

Eggs: Good or Bad?

Over the years, eggs have gotten a bad rap as cholesterol no-nos. But should you totally ditch them in your diet?

Coffee: Good or Bad?

Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day. In Italy, people down 14 billion espressos every year. But the coffee-guzzling king is Finland, where residents drink more coffee than anywhere else in the world. Clearly, coffee is one of our favorite beverages, but is it good or bad?

Good Calories, Bad Calories?

What’s more important, what you eat or how much you eat? Dietitians are often asked this question …are all calories created equal?

Kombucha: Good or Bad?

Find out if the popular fermented kombucha tea is worth the hype.