Half and half is a mix of half whole milk and half cream. It is usually found in cartons in the dairy section of most major supermarkets. Most often used in coffee, half and half may also be used for baking, to thicken sauces or as an ingredient in ice cream. Half and half contains a number of nutrients, but it is high in calories and saturated fat.
One cup of half and half contains 28 g of fat, 17 g of which are saturated. It provides 10 g of carbohydrates and 7 g of protein. One tbsp, the typical amount you add to a cup of coffee, provides 2 g of fat, 1 g of which is saturated. It only contains 1 g of carbohydrates and no protein.
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Vitamins and Minerals
Half and half provides 25 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for calcium. A cup also provides 17 percent of the RDA for vitamin A, 4 percent for vitamin C and 1 percent for iron, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Other nutrients in half and half include 21 percent of the RDA for riboflavin, 13 percent for vitamin B12, 4 percent for vitamins E and K, 5 percent for vitamin B6, 6 percent for thiamin and magnesium, 7 percent for pantothenic acid, 9 percent for potassium, 8 percent for zinc and 6 percent for selenium. A cup of half and half contains 89.5 mg of cholesterol.
Comparison to Milk
Half and half contains 315 calories per cup, or 20 calories per tbsp. By comparison, whole milk has 146 calories per cup, or 9 calories per tbsp. Whole milk has 8 g of fat, 5 g of which are saturated, and 8 g of protein. Save more calories and fat by choosing 1 percent low-fat milk with 102 calories per cup and 2 g of fat or nonfat milk with 83 calories per cup and no fat. A cup of milk has 30 percent of the RDA for calcium.
Some manufacturers make a fat-free version of half and half. Among its ingredients are nonfat milk, corn syrup and carrageenan – a thickener. The product also contains a small amount of heavy cream. It has approximately 136 calories per cup, or 9 calories per tbsp. You can use fat-free half and half to make ice cream recipes that include eggs or another fat, cooked custards, chocolate sauces, butter cream frosting, quick breads and muffins, soups or gravies. Fat-free half and half may also be used in coffee.
If a recipe calls for 1 cup of half and half, you may substitute ¾ cup whole milk and ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream. Alternatively, you may substitute 1 tbsp melted butter and enough whole milk to make one cup. One tbsp of half and half with 20 calories will not significantly impact your daily calorie intake, but if you are watching your weight you might consider switching to milk. At the very least, measure your half and half servings to make sure you are not using more than you think, and taking in considerably more calories, fat and cholesterol.