What Is Heavy Whipping Cream?
Heavy cream, also called heavy whipping cream, is the fat that rises to the top of milk and is skimmed off during processing. The raw cream is then pasteurized and homogenized to kill harmful bacteria and increase its shelf life.
It's a thick and pourable cream used to make other kinds of milk products with different fat contents, including:
- Ice cream
It can also be used in sauces and other food products. Some people add it to coffee in its liquid state. Others add sugar to whipping cream, blend it until it becomes fluffy, and use it as a dessert topping.
Heavy cream usually has a high fat content, around 35%. Stabilizers are often added to help with texture and easier whipping.
Heavy Whipping Cream Nutrition
Heavy whipping cream is rich in fat, vitamins, and minerals. One-half cup of cream in its liquid state contains:
Pros and Cons of Heavy Whipping Cream
Benefits of heavy whipping cream
Full-fat dairy products such as heavy whipping cream contain more of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K than low-fat or nonfat dairy. Also, your body absorbs fat-soluble vitamins better when you consume them with fat.
While saturated fat such as that found in heavy whipping cream was thought to increase the risk of heart disease, some newer studies aren't clear on the connection. Researchers who looked at several long-term studies found no link between the use of full-fat dairy products and a higher risk of cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease, including heart disease and stroke.
But full-fat dairy wasn’t found to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, either. "Fat swapping," or replacing high-fat dairy with vegetable fat, reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10%. And replacing it with polyunsaturated fat reduced the risk by 24%. Swapping full-fat dairy for whole grains reduced the risk of heart disease by 28%.
Full-fat dairy may be linked to a lower risk of obesity. A 2014 study of more than 1,300 people found that those who took in the highest amounts of full-fat dairy were less likely to be obese than those who consumed the lowest amounts. They also had less belly fat.
Some people even think that using heavy cream could help with weight loss. But there's no proof of this. Heavy cream has more calories than other milk products and isn't usually recommended for weight loss.
Another study of 3,300 people found that those who consumed higher levels of dairy fat were less likely to develop diabetes later in life. Those with low levels of dairy fatty acids were more likely to develop diabetes.
Finally, cream and milk products are good sources of calcium, which helps promote bone health and lowers your risk of fractures. Milk products are also fortified with vitamin D, which helps maintain bone mass. The protein in dairy products can also help protect against sarcopenia, the loss of strength and muscle mass that occurs with aging.
Health concerns about heavy whipping cream
High-fat dairy such as heavy whipping cream has been linked to a higher risk of dementia and worse breast cancer survival rates. High-fat dairy has also been associated with an increased risk of death from prostate cancer. The more whole-fat milk people consumed, the greater their risk.
Heavy cream’s fat content makes it very rich. You might find that it bothers your stomach if you have a digestive disorder.
Getting the calcium and protein you need from nuts and leafy vegetables may offer more nutritional benefits than getting it from dairy products.
Half-and-Half vs. Heavy Cream vs. Coffee Creamer
Half-and-half cream is equal parts heavy whipping cream and milk. It has a light, creamy texture and is usually around 10% fat, but you can find light versions with less fat. It’s often used as a milk substitute in cream soups and baking recipes. Half-and-half is also known as:
- Blend cream
- Light blend cream
- Light cream
- 5% or 6% milk blend
Coffee creamer is a dairy-free product made with sugar, water, and oil. Creamers are often flavored and have many other additives, including carrageenan and gums. They are sometimes called coffee whiteners. There are lots of types of coffee creamers, including:
How to Make Heavy Whipping Cream Part of Your Healthy Diet
With studies showing mixed results on the benefits and risks of full-fat dairy, moderation is the key to making heavy whipping cream a part of your diet. You should aim for no more than 20 grams of saturated fat per day on a 2,000-calorie diet.
The American Heart Association recommends that people with heart problems get no more than 5% to 6% of their total calories from saturated fat. For those without these conditions, saturated fat calories should make up no more than 7% to 10% of total calories.
Healthy Heavy Cream Substitutes
When a recipe calls for heavy whipping cream, you might try a lower-fat dairy replacement. Instead of heavy cream, experiment with:
- Evaporated skim milk
- Half low-fat, unsalted cottage cheese and half plain low-fat yogurt
- Low-fat Greek yogurt thinned with milk, or half Greek yogurt and half heavy cream
- Whole milk
Vegan options include:
- Coconut cream or coconut milk
- Oat milk, one of the thicker types of plant milk
- Silken (soft) tofu