Is Fat-Free Half-and-Half Healthy?

It sounds like a good alternative to regular half-and-half. Is fat-free half-and-half a better way to lighten your coffee?

If you’re like most Americans you enjoy sipping a hot cup of coffee in the morning. The fragrant smell combined with the pleasingly bitter taste can make a hectic morning seem a little bit more manageable. While coffee is a low calorie beverage, most people add enough cream and sugar to turn it into a meal, and an unhealthy one at that, especially considering the high calorie and fat content of cream. Well, now you have another option for flavoring that morning cup of coffee and making it a little creamier – fat-free half-and-half. This product is advertised as having the taste and texture of regular half-and-half without all the calories and fat. Is fat-free half-and-half really a healthy alternative to regular half-and-half?

What’s in Fat-Free Half-and-Half?

Although several companies make a fat-free version of half-and-half, one of the most popular one is made by Land O Lakes. The ingredients in this product include nonfat milk, corn syrup, color, dipotassium phosphate, citrate, mono and diglycerides, carrageenan, and vitamin A.A very small amount of cream is added which is still low enough in amount to call it fat-free.

What About the Nutritional Profile?

Land O Lakes Fat-Free Half-and-Half has twenty calories per two tablespoon servings. It has zero grams of fat, three grams of carbohydrates, two grams of sugar, and one gram of protein. It has small amounts of vitamin A and calcium.

The Calories

Although twenty calories per serving doesn’t seen like a lot, it still has a total of 160 calories in eight ounces compared to only 80 calories in eight ounces of skim milk. If you’re watching your calorie intake, this is a significant difference. On the plus side, it may take less fat-free half-and-half to get the perfect taste and texture as it would skim milk since the fat-free half-and-half has a creamier consistency.

What’s Bad About It

The second ingredient on the list is corn syrup, an ingredient which isn’t as bad as high fructose corn syrup, but not something you should want regularly in your diet. Fat-free half-and-half has also undergone a fair amount of processing with the addition of additives such as carrageenan to give the product thickness and texture. Carrageenan is derived from algae and seaweed and is used in the food industry as a thickening agent. The high level of processing and the added corn syrup and thickeners make it a less wholesome product than other some other options such as organic skim milk, low-fat soy milk, or almond milk, all of which can be used to lighten coffee.

What’s Good About It

If you normally use regular half-and-half or cream in your coffee, the fat-free version has considerably lower calories and fat which is important if you’re watching your weight or fat intake.

The Bottom Line

If you like the creaminess of a cream-like product and find skim milk or low-fat milk alternatives such as soy milk to be too watery; fat-free half-and-half may be a better option from a health standpoint than traditional half-and-half. Otherwise organic skim milk is a better choice due to its lower calorie content and the fact that it’s less processed and has no added corn syrup. When it comes to lightening your coffee, organic skim milk or almond milk may still be the best choice.

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Published in: Consumer Information

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