Heavy whipping cream has a variety of culinary uses. You can use it to make butter and whipped cream, add creaminess to coffee or soups, and much more.
Heavy whipping cream is full of nutrients but also very high in calories.
This article outlines everything you need to know about heavy whipping cream, including its uses, nutrient content, benefits, and downsides.
What is heavy whipping cream?
Heavy whipping cream is the high-fat portion of raw dairy milk (1).
Fresh, raw milk naturally separates into cream and milk. The cream rises to the top due to its fat content. Its then skimmed off before further processing (1).
To make heavy whipping cream, this raw cream is pasteurized and homogenized. This involves heating and applying high levels of pressure to the cream to kill pathogens, lengthen shelf life, and improve stability (2, 3, 4).
Many types of heavy whipping cream also contain additives that help stabilize the cream and keep the fat from separating.
One of these additives is carrageenan, which is extracted from seaweed. Another is sodium caseinate, the food-additive form of the milk protein casein (5, 6).
Uses of heavy whipping cream
Heavy whipping cream can be used in a variety of ways in food manufacturing and home cooking.
Whipping or churning heavy whipping cream causes its fat molecules to clump together.
After a few minutes of whipping, this property causes the liquid cream to turn into whipped cream. After a few more minutes of churning, the whipped cream turns into butter (7, 8, 9).
Buttermilk, another popular dairy product, is the fluid that remains after heavy whipping cream has been churned into butter (10).
Heavy whipping cream is also used to add creaminess to coffee, baked goods, soups, and other recipes. Many people following high-fat diets, such as the ketogenic diet, use it to add extra fat to their meals and beverages.
Nutrition of heavy whipping cream
Heavy whipping cream is mostly fat, so its high in calories. Its also rich in choline, fat-soluble vitamins, and certain minerals. One-half cup (119 grams) contains (11):
The fat in heavy whipping cream is primarily saturated fat, which was long thought to contribute to the development of heart disease.
However, current research does not show a strong link between dairy fat intake and heart disease. In fact, emerging research suggests that eating saturated fat may help protect against heart disease (12, 13).
Heavy whipping cream also contains choline and vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which play vital roles in your health.
For example, vitamin A is essential for eye health and immune function, while choline is critical to early brain development and metabolism (14, 15).
Furthermore, heavy whipping cream contains calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that are necessary for healthy bones (16).
Heavy whipping cream vs. whipping cream
Different types of cream are classified based on fat their contents.
Heavy whipping cream and whipping cream should not be mistaken for the same product. Heavy whipping cream and heavy cream contain at least 36% milk fat (3).
On the other hand, light whipping cream, which is sometimes called whipping cream, is slightly lighter, containing 3035% milk fat (3).
Because of its lower fat content, light whipping cream produces an airier whipped cream, while heavy whipping cream produces a richer whipped cream (3).
Half-and-half is another cream-based product, comprising half cream and half milk. It contains 1018% milk fat and is primarily used in coffee (3).
Benefits and downsides
Heavy whipping cream is full of health-promoting vitamins and minerals. However, its very high in calories and may contribute to weight gain if you consume too much.
Below are some of the benefits and downsides of heavy whipping cream.
Benefits of heavy whipping cream
Heavy whipping cream and other full-fat dairy products contain several health-boosting vitamins and minerals, including the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
In fact, full-fat dairy products contain more fat-soluble vitamins than their low-fat and fat-free counterparts (11, 12, 17).
Whats more, your body absorbs fat-soluble vitamins better when they are consumed with fat, such as the fat found in heavy whipping cream (18).
Some studies have also found that full-fat dairy products are associated with a decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (12, 19, 20, 21).
One study in more than 1,300 participants observed that those who reported the highest intake of full-fat dairy were significantly less likely to be obese than those who reported the lowest intake. They also had significantly less belly fat (19).
One 13-week study in 36 adults compared the low-fat Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet to a high-fat version of the diet containing 40% fat and full-fat dairy products.
Researchers noted that both diets reduced high blood pressure, but the higher-fat diet had the added benefit of decreasing harmful very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), all while maintaining heart-protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) (22).
Furthermore, heavy whipping cream appears to be healthier for you than several highly refined low-fat products that serve as cream replacements, such as coffee creamers and whipped topping (23).
Compared to whole foods, these products are less filling and have a greater impact on your blood sugar levels. High intake of these refined foods has also been linked to obesity (24, 25, 26).
Downsides of heavy whipping cream
Heavy whipping cream is very high in calories, containing 400 calories per 1/2 cup (119 grams). Therefore, it can be easy to consume excess calories if you use it often.
Lower-calorie alternatives include half-and-half, whole milk, and nut milks (11).
Surprisingly, its estimated that more than 65% of people may be lactose intolerant and thus need to avoid heavy whipping cream, along with other dairy products (27).
Moreover, some research shows that dairy products may contribute to mucus production in many people, even those who arent allergic or intolerant (28).
One study in more than 100 adults with excessive nasal mucus production found that going dairy-free helped reduce the problem.
Those who went on a dairy-free diet for six days reported significantly fewer symptoms of excessive mucus production than those who went dairy-free for just two days and then reintroduced dairy into their diets (29).
However, this is an area of debate. Some researchers have found no link between dairy consumption and mucus production (30).
Dairy intake has also been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers (31).
For example, a review including over 8,000 people observed that those with the highest dairy intake were 20% more likely to have stomach cancer than those with the lowest dairy intake (32).
Additionally, many heavy whipping creams contain additives, such as carrageenan and sodium caseinate. These have been linked to intestinal damage when consumed in high doses in animal and test-tube studies (5, 6, 33, 34).
Finally, homogenization a heat- or pressure-based process that keeps the fat from separating in the cream may prevent you from reaping some of raw milks benefits.
One recent review suggests that consuming raw dairy products may help prevent autoimmune conditions like asthma and allergies (35).
Is it healthy?
Heavy whipping cream is high in calories but also rich in healthy fat and several vitamins and minerals. Its generally used in small amounts, such as in coffee or recipes that need a bit of creaminess, so its unlikely to add significant calories to your diet.
Nevertheless, if youre on a calorie-restricted diet, you can use a lower-calorie alternative, such as nut milk or half-and-half, or limit your daily intake of heavy whipping cream to a small amount.
The majority of people may be lactose intolerant and should avoid heavy whipping cream and other dairy products for optimal health (27).
Additionally, certain individuals may experience increased mucus production after eating dairy products. If this applies to you, you should avoid heavy whipping cream.
However, if you can tolerate dairy products and use heavy whipping cream in small amounts, it can be a healthy part of your diet.
Finally, organic, grass-fed heavy cream is a better choice, as grass-fed dairy products are higher in nutrients like healthy fats and antioxidants than conventionally-raised dairy (36, 37, 38).
The bottom line
Heavy whipping cream is a rich addition to recipes or coffee and can be used to make whipped cream and butter.
Full-fat dairy products like heavy whipping cream are full of nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamins, which some studies have linked to a decreased risk of conditions like heart disease and obesity.
However, heavy whipping cream is very high in calories, and the majority of the population cant tolerate dairy products.
If you can tolerate dairy and use heavy whipping cream in small amounts, it can be a healthy part of your diet.