Is Cream Cheese Healthy: 5 Benefits

There are several add-ons we use in our diet every day, like butter, cheese, and cream, but are these good for you? Read on to know “Is cream cheese healthy” for more insights!

Is Cream Cheese Healthy?

Cream cheese is a versatile ingredient that can be used in any recipe and can provide a fantastic amount of vitamins and minerals.

Are There Any Benefits of Cream Cheese?

So, is cream cheese healthy? Let’s know its benefits! The health benefits of cream cheese depend on the type you choose. It may even give you some health benefits. However, the cream cheese spread is meagre in lactose, has vitamin A, and has beneficial strains of bacteria and antioxidants.

Cream cheese can be a healthier alternative to butter, and the benefits come directly from antioxidants and other nutrient contents, though the cream cheese’s nutrition is low.

Cream cheese has a delicious, smooth, and mild taste of soft texture cheese. All these traits of cream cheese make it compatible with several dishes.

You can always serve this cheese with bagels or toast, and it is a healthy addition to your breakfast. Eating regular cream cheese can help you improve your gut health, vision, and atopic dermatitis.

However, regular cream cheese is different from the usual cream cheese. Even the calorie count in cream cheese1 is not lower than in butter.

Before delving into if is cream cheese healthy, lets explore more about it.

What is Cream Cheese and How is it Made?

You don’t know if is cream cheese healthy, don’t worry! Cream cheese is a soft cheese, and it is often used as a spread. The cream cheese is spread over bagels, wraps, and sandwiches. You can even add it to other recipes like soups, pancakes, and baked goods, which is why it is a versatile ingredient.

Lactic acid is added to the cream cheese to reduce the pH value. As a result, it solidifies and gives curd and whey as its end product.

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Photo by Anita Peeples on Unsplash

Other cream cheese ingredients 2are added over the heated curd. The whey protein is separated from the product as well.

A clotting enzyme is also added to it to improve the creamy texture and firmness of the end product. Through a recent study, a new plant-based enzyme was detected to be used as a clotting enzyme.

However, according to the traditional methods, people used to mix milk and cream to make cream cheese. Even the vegan cream cheese was made by traditional recipes, including mixing cream and non-dairy milk or Greek yogurt.

Making cream cheese is straightforward. It includes:

  • Passing regular milk for the pasteurization and homogenization process.

  • Then, a starter culture is added to the milk.

  • The mixture is then passed for an acidification process which involves adding source acid. The source acid can be acetic acid.

  • The mixture is then left to thicken, and then the excess moisture is removed by centrifugation

    3

    or ultrafiltration.

  • Once all these are done, the cream cheese gets ready for packing and delivery.

Pasteurization is done for killing potentially dangerous microorganisms. After adding the acid source, the mixture is broken into smaller and uniform pieces to make the creamier texture smooth.

Also, thickening gums are added to the cheese to make it thick, the additives can be carob bean gums, and they are derived from a plant source or animal source. The other reason for including the additives is to increase the firmness of the cheese.

Cream Cheese Nutritive Facts: Is Cream Cheese Healthy 

The nutrition facts in cream cheese can vary depending on the variety you choose to eat. For example, regular cream cheese nutrition facts differ from full-fat cheese nutrition facts.

Though the nutrition facts can vary depending on the cream cheese you choose, all cream cheese calories are high. Also, they are shallow in carbs.

However, some cream cheese can have small amounts of micronutrients, vitamin A, vitamin E, and phosphorous or calcium.

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Photo by Önder Örtel on Unsplash

Cream cheese nutrition facts will have:

  • 1 gram of carbohydrates

  • 9.5 grams of saturated fat

  • vitamin A, about 345 international units

  • 29.7 milligrams of phosphorous

  • 27.4 milligrams of calcium

  • 1.8 g of protein

  • 0 g fibre

  • 93 milligrams of sodium

You will find these nutrition facts in just two tablespoons of regular cream cheese (29g).

You can often see whipped cream cheese selling in bar form in grocery stores. There are also other forms to sell cream cheese, and by some process, low-fat cream cheese is made. You can even find Philadelphia cream cheese all over the world.

One serving of cream cheese has one tablespoon of cream cheese, which is 14.9 gm approximately.

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Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash

You can find the line markings on the package of cream cheese. Some cream cheese can give about 100 calories in only one ounce of serving.

However, you will not find many calories in the whipped cream cheese. Due to whipping, this process adds air inside the cheese, and as a result, it fluffs up. So, you may think you are getting double cream in the same serving as others, but actually, you are getting fewer calories.

Even some of the popular brands of cream cheese add skim milk to reduce the fat content in it. Some cream cheese products give only about three grams of saturated fat and about 4.5 grams of fat.

Moreover, the flavour also affects the cream cheese nutrition facts.4 Sugar and calorie count are generally high when you take sweet flavour cream cheese. The calorie count will be the same for salty flavours of cream cheese, but the sodium count will slightly rise.

Now is the time to know if is cream cheese healthy!

  • Carbs Content in Cream Cheese

Cream cheese often has a very low carbohydrates count. Even one serving of cheese provides only about one gram of carbs in sugar form. But if you want to increase the carb intake from cream cheese, you can opt for flavoured cream cheese.

  • Fat Content in Cream Cheese

The significant fat in cream cheese is saturated fat. One single serving of cream cheese contains about five grams of fat. However, you will also find some unsaturated fat in the form of polyunsaturated fat and about 1.3 grams of monounsaturated fat.

  • Protein Content in Cream Cheese

The protein content is shallow in cream cheese recipes. You will only find about 0.9 grams of protein per serving of cream cheese.

  • Micronutrients Content in Cream Cheese

Cream cheese also provides some amount of vitamins and minerals. However, you will get some benefits from vitamin A (44.7 IU) and vitamin K (0.3 mcg).

Some minerals in cream cheese include potassium of about 19.1 mg, calcium of about 14.1 milligrams, and a small amount of selenium (4% DV vitamin).

However, if you feel the protein and mineral facts are poor, you can go for other dairy products. Comparatively, they have high amounts of protein and a wide range of nutrients. It has high amounts of phosphorous, calcium, and vitamin D.

Is Cream Cheese Healthy?

If you want to take more calories and less saturated fat, you should opt for cream cheese. If you have soft cream cheese, then there are many health benefits that you will get.

1. Help With Gut Health

To prepare the cream cheese, manufacturers use lactic acid bacterial strains. The active bacterial cultures added to the cheese can help improve the cheese’s texture.

It is seen that cream cheese can increase fatty acid levels and can offer benefits to inflammatory bowel disease5 (IBD) and some intestinal diseases. Moreover, the probiotics present in it can also help you to improve your gut health and gut inflammation.

However, researchers must give more scientific evidence to learn the benefits of cream cheese.

2. High Vitamin A

Cream cheese has a high content of vitamin A and fat-soluble vitamins, which are crucial for your eyesight. Generally, you will get 44.7 micrograms of vitamin A from one serving of cream cheese.

Vitamin A, which is there in the cream cheese, can also help in boosting the immune system.

3. Low in Lactose Content

If you eat foods that have lactose then it may provoke digestive problems. Also, you may face symptoms of bloating, severe cramps, and acute diarrhea if you are lactose intolerant.

Dairy products contain heavy lactose content. Milk and dairy products like cheese and yogurt have more lactose content. People who have lactose intolerance and dairy allergy should avoid dairy products.

However, cream cheese does not have much lactose in it. It has a meagre amount of lactose and might not even trigger one symptom of lactose intolerance if people consume cream cheese.

4. Antioxidant Properties

Cream cheese may help you to deal with your stress and also help you to free radical damage. Since the cheese contains properties of antioxidants, it has carotenoids and helps relieve stress. Cream cheese contains lutein and zeaxanthin content in cream cheese helps with eye problems.

5. Has Probiotic Effects

Cream cheese is made from lactic acid bacteria with the help of live and active cultures. Some strains of bacteria offer health benefits.

Cream cheese may contain lactobacillus6, which can support and make your immune system stronger. It also increases short-chain fatty acids, the primary energy source for the colon cells.

Cream cheese has fat-soluble vitamins and thus can help you with advanced inflammatory disorders. However, more scientific evidence is required to learn more about the benefits of cream cheese.

Downsides of Cream Cheese

Despite having so many health benefits, cream cheese can have some downfalls too.

  • Cream cheeses have a meagre amount of protein. There are hardly two grams of protein in one ounce of cheese. Hence, the protein amount is meagre in other forms of cheese too. Protein is critical nutrition to maintain muscle mass and muscle strength. Moreover, this can make you feel full when you have your meal.

  • Cream cheese has a very relatively short shelf life. Factors of processing, packaging, and storing make the cheese life shorter. Though the process of pasteurization can kill microorganisms, this can still be very dangerous.

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Photo by Cats Coming: Pexels

It is better to eat the cream cheese within the first two weeks of opening and store it in any cool area since it has a short shelf life. You can stop the microbial growth by spreading it with a clean knife and resealing the package. You should not eat it if it smells unusual or mould.

  • You cannot enjoy having dairy products since they possess dairy allergies. Cream cheese has milk sugar in high content than other hard cheeses. It can be a considerable problem for lactose-intolerant people.

    If someone cannot digest lactose, the person may develop a milk protein allergy. Though cream cheese does not have much protein, it still can be a problem for people prone to dairy product allergies.

  • Regular cheese is made from milk, and later the bacteria may digest the milk sugars. Hence, cheese provides carbs and has substantial fat content, protein, and nutrients in a regular milk package.

    But, cream cheese is a combination of milk and cream only. Since cream cheese does not ferment for long enough, it cannot provide the nutrients that regular cheese can offer. Also, it is a source of healthy fats and calories. 

  • Baked goods with dairy products can have either a neutral or inverse impact on cardiovascular health risks. Cream cheese contains saturated fat, which can raise the plasma levels of LDL cholesterol. Moreover, LDL cholesterol is directly linked with cardiovascular risks. 

  • Most cream cheeses are made with 0.30% of guar gum, xanthan gum, and locust ben gum. This gum helps in the texture of the cream cheese. Sometimes, they are even used together in exact ratios. The locust bean gum has low toxicity and is safe to use the cream cheese. Also, the guar gum yields very low-fat cream cheese. 

    However, the thickening gum often causes uneasiness in certain people. Since the gums can result in gastrointestinal problems, you should use them very cautiously.

  • Cream Cheese v. Butter

    Butter is made with cream, and cream cheese is made from milk, cream, and other ingredients. Butter has more calories than cream cheese. However, butter also contains a high concentration of fat.

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    Photo by Markus Spiske: Pexels

    However, cream cheese offers you a rich source of calcium, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and thiamin. Moreover, the cream cheese looks like Neufchatel cheese though they are different.

    According to USDA, cream cheese has a total fat of 30-40 percent of milk fat and another essential fat-soluble vitamin, whereas Neufchatel cheese has only 23 percent of milk fat. Moreover, cream cheese is used in sweet and savoury dishes, but Neufchatel is used to give a nutty taste.

    Also, you can obtain a slew of additional ingredients when you eat cream cheese. You will get carob bean gum, sorbic acid, cheese culture, whey protein concentrate, and guar gum.

    Similarly, you will obtain buttermilk, distilled monoglycerides, lactic acid, some natural flavour, beta carotene, and palmitate on taking butter.

    How to Make Cream Cheese at Home?

    Though cream cheese is available for purchase in most of the stores. You can choose your flavour type and the different forms of cream cheese. However, if you think of making it yourself, you can even add a healthy spin to your meal.

    You need to have whole milk of around one gallon, around 3.5 litres, to make cream cheese. It would be best if you also had lemon juice from one large lemon and one pinch of salt.

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    Photo by Julio Mantilla: Pexels

    Now, to make the cream cheese at your home, you need to:

    1. Take a large pot and pour the milk. Stir the milk nicely, with one pinch of salt taken.

    2. Heat the milk at a medium boiling point and stir it continuously to avoid the milk from getting scorched at the bottom.

    3. Turn off the heat source when the milk starts to boil.

    4. Add lemon juice to the milk.
    5. Keep at a cool place while the milk curdles. You will find a yellowish liquid is being formed along with the milk curds.

    6. Typically, the curds form within five to ten minutes. You need to pour the curdled milk on a cheesecloth and a sieve to take out all the liquid whey.

    7. However, you can even use a spoon and scoop out the curds, and the liquid whey stays in the pot.

    8. Pour the water into the sieve and the curdled milk properly. You will have to get rid of all the extra whey.

    9. Now, you have to squeeze it to drain every drop of liquid whey.

    10. Keep the strained milk in a blender and add some salt to it.

    11. By now, the milk will turn into fluffy softened cream cheese with the help of lemon juice.

    How to Use the Cheese Cream?

    Whenever people hear about cream cheese, they think of bagels spread with cheese creams. However, you can even use cream cheese in many other different items.

    1. With Mashed Potatoes

    It is a classic combination of baked potatoes and cream cheese. Most people enjoy this combination. Also, you can add some chopped bacon over it to make it more delicious. You can even add some fresh chives.

    2. Add Cream Cheese to Thicken Your Sauces

    Cream cheese is usually very thick and creamy. However, this property of cream cheese can lend thickness to any sauce to better the taste.

    The sauce will thicken up with a mild cheesy flavour by adding a little cream cheese.

    3. Sushi Rolls

    The sushi rolls taste better with cream cheese and especially with salmon. Some people want to exclude rice from their meals for cream cheese to get low-carb and high-fat meals.

    4. Use in Soups and Stews

    If you add cream cheese to your soups or stew, the taste will change and enhance the taste even more.

    5. Make a Dip

    Dips can make every food tasty. But, significant available dips are made of unhealthy oils. However, you can make your dip with some simple cream cheese and sour cream.

    For this dip, you also need to have 113 grams of cream cheese, 113 grams of sour cream, half a tablespoon of garlic powder, one tablespoon of salt, and one tablespoon of chopped chives.

    6. Replace With Butter

    If you find butter delicious, then you must try cream cheese once. It is more tasty and healthy. Moreover, you can use cream cheese the same way you use butter to spread over your dishes.

    When you use cream cheese to spread over your vegetables, it offers similar benefits, but cream cheese can absorb vitamins.

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    Photo by Pixabay

    You can even use cream cheese to make some healthy items. With the help of cream cheese, you can cheesecake egg rolls, which need only 2 blocks of cheese, some amount of vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar.

    Also, you can use the cheese to make blueberry cream cheese cookies. It needs only 4 oz of cheese, one egg, baking soda, lemon, blueberries, salt, and cornstarch. You will also need some granulated sugar, softened butter, and flour.

    Key lime cheesecake is another item made from cream cheese and has an excellent taste. You will need some crushed graham crackers, tablespoons of melted butter, granulated sugar, and some pinches of salt.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Does cream cheese taste good?

    The cream cheese has a mellow, sweet flavour with a lovely tang to it.

    2. When should I eat cream cheese?

    While it is most commonly used as spreading on bagels, biscuits, and toast, it can be utilized in sandwich fillings and mashed potatoes, as well as different sauces.

    3. Is it OK to eat cheese daily?

    2-3 ounces of cheese per day might seem appropriate if your diet is generally low in saturated fats and salt.

    Bottom Line

    Though cream cheese is mouthwatering, it is not the most nutritious food. This type of cheese offers some benefits to human health, but it also adds many flavours to our food.

    There are many ways by which you can give an extra taste to your food. Learn how to use cream cheese over different dishes and make them delicious. A diet high in saturated fat can help you immensely keep good health.

    Please take milk from grass-fed cows, they have a better omega of fatty acids. However, if you want to make your cream cheese at home, try to use cow’s milk.

    Before you decide to switch your cheese type, you should contact licensed nutritionists to know that is cream cheese healthy and every benefits and drawbacks. Take professional medical advice and advice from a certified health coach for including cream cheese in your diet.

    Click here to read about lactose-free milk!

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    2. Phadungath, Chanokphat. “Cream cheese products: A review.” Songklanakarin Journal of Science and Technology 27.1 (2005): 191-199. ↩︎
    3. Majekodunmi, Stephen Olaribigbe. “A review on centrifugation in the pharmaceutical industry.” Am. J. Biomed. Eng 5.2 (2015): 67-78. ↩︎
    4. Walther, Barbara, et al. “Cheese in nutrition and health.” Dairy Science and Technology 88.4-5 (2008): 389-405. ↩︎
    5. Baumgart, Daniel C., and Simon R. Carding. “Inflammatory bowel disease: cause and immunobiology.” The Lancet 369.9573 (2007): 1627-1640. ↩︎
    6. Åvall-Jääskeläinen, Silja, and Airi Palva. “Lactobacillus surface layers and their applications.” FEMS Microbiology Reviews 29.3 (2005): 511-529. ↩︎

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