Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: What's the skinny on fat-free half-and-half?

Ask the doctor

What's the skinny on fat-free half-and-half?

Q. Is fat-free half-and-half good for you?

A. Sure, in the same way that diet soda is good for you "" because of what you are not having. But it's not good for you in the way that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are.

Fat-free half-and-half is made with skim milk, a touch of milk or cream, corn syrup and other sweeteners, carrageenan (a seaweed extract used as a thickener), and other additives. As the name implies, each 2-tablespoon serving contains no fat, but it does have about 20 calories. Regular half-and-half is a mixture of milk and cream. A serving delivers 3 grams of fat (2 grams of which are saturated fat, or about 10% of the recommended daily limit), a bit of cholesterol, and 40 calories.

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