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. It 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.
Heavy whipping cream is the high fat portion of dairy milk (1).
Fresh milk naturally separates into cream and milk. The cream rises to the top because of its fat content. It’s then skimmed off before further processing (1).
To make heavy whipping cream, this 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).
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 (4, 5).
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 (
Buttermilk, another popular dairy product, is the fluid that remains after heavy whipping cream has been churned into butter (9).
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.
Heavy whipping cream is made by skimming the high fat cream from fresh dairy milk. It’s used to make butter and whipped cream and add creaminess to coffee and many other dishes.
Heavy whipping cream is mostly fat, so it’s high in calories. It’s also rich in choline, fat-soluble vitamins, and certain minerals. One half-cup of liquid cream is equivalent to 1 cup whipped cream (120 grams) and contains (
- Calories: 408
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 43 grams
- Carbs: 3 grams
- Vitamin A: 55% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Vitamin D: 10% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 7% of the DV
- Calcium: 6% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 6% of the DV
- Choline: 4% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 3% of the DV
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 always show a strong link between dairy fat intake and heart disease. Some emerging research suggests that eating saturated fat may help protect against heart disease (
However, not all researchers are in agreement about whether eating saturated fat reduces or increases the risk of heart disease (
More research is needed to further investigate the role of saturated fat in the development of heart disease.
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 (
Furthermore, heavy whipping cream contains calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that are necessary for healthy bones (
Heavy whipping cream vs. whipping cream
Different types of cream are classified based on their fat content.
Heavy whipping cream should not be mistaken for whipping cream, as these are not 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 30–35% 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, consisting of half cream and half milk. It contains 10–18% milk fat and is primarily used in coffee (3).
Heavy whipping cream is high in calories and must contain at least 36% fat. It’s rich in nutrients such as vitamin A, choline, calcium, and phosphorus. Other cream products, including light cream, whipping cream, and half-and-half, are lower in fat.
Heavy whipping cream is full of health-promoting vitamins and minerals. However, it’s very high in calories and may contribute to weight gain if consumed in large amounts.
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 (
What’s more, your body absorbs fat-soluble vitamins better when you consume them with fat, such as the fat found in heavy whipping cream (19).
Some studies have also found that full fat dairy products are associated with a decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (
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 have obesity than those who reported the lowest intake. Those with higher intakes also had significantly less belly fat (
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) cholesterol while maintaining levels of heart-protective high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (
Furthermore, heavy whipping cream appears to be healthier than several highly refined low fat products that can serve as cream replacements, such as coffee creamers and whipped topping (25).
Compared with 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 (26,
Downsides of heavy whipping cream
Heavy whipping cream is very high in calories, containing 408 calories per 1/2 cup (120 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.
Surprisingly, it’s estimated that more than 65% of people may be lactose intolerant and need to avoid heavy whipping cream and other dairy products (
Moreover, some research shows that dairy products may contribute to mucus production in many people — even those who don’t have any allergy or intolerance to dairy (
However, more research is needed to establish a stronger connection between the two.
One study in 108 adults with excessive nasal mucus production found that going dairy-free helped reduce the problem.
Those who went on a dairy-free diet for 6 days reported significantly fewer symptoms of excessive mucus production than those who went dairy-free for just 2 days and then reintroduced dairy into their diets (
However, this is an area of debate. Some researchers have found no link between dairy consumption and mucus production (32).
Dairy intake has also been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers (
For example, a review including more than 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 (
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 (4, 5,
Heavy whipping cream is high in fat and full of fat-soluble vitamins, but it’s also high in calories. Consuming full fat dairy seems to have some health benefits. However, around 65% of people may not be able to tolerate dairy very well.
Heavy whipping cream is high in calories but also rich in healthy fat and several vitamins and minerals. It’s generally used in small amounts, such as in coffee or recipes that need a bit of creaminess, so it’s unlikely to add significant calories to your diet.
Nevertheless, if you’re 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 may need to avoid heavy whipping cream and other dairy products for optimal health (
Additionally, certain people may experience increased mucus production after eating dairy products. If this applies to you, you may want to 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 such as healthy fats and antioxidants than conventional dairy products (37,
Overall, if you can tolerate dairy and you use heavy whipping cream in small amounts, it can be part of a healthy diet. However, you may want to avoid it if you are lactose intolerant, are on a calorie-restricted diet, or experience excess mucus production.
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 such as heart disease and obesity.
However, heavy whipping cream is very high in calories, and most of the population can’t tolerate dairy products.
If you can tolerate dairy and you use heavy whipping cream in small amounts, it can be a healthy part of your diet.
Just one thing
Try this today: Heavy whipping cream can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. Add a dollop of heavy whipping cream to tomato soup or use it as a topping for a sweet treat such as a Boston cream pie.