Cream cheese is still incredibly high in fat and cholesterol (regular varieties) and filled to the brim with additives (fat-free varieties). It is best enjoyed every once in a blue moon or avoided altogether.
Cream cheese is a spread commonly used on various types of bread. While it isn't particularly good for your health, it is rich in vitamin A (59% of the daily recommended value) and calcium (23% of the daily recommended value). How cream cheese can affect your health depends on the type you buy. While there are several flavors, we will look at basic cream cheese flavor that comes in three types: regular, reduced-fat, and fat-free.
Regular cream cheese has about 100 calories per two tablespoons, with 9 grams of fat - 6 grams of those being saturated fat. It is also high in cholesterol, accounting for 85% of the daily recommended value.
Reduced fat has, of course, less fat than regular - but contains preservatives not found in regular cream cheese, such as guar gum and sorbic acid. While these two ingredients are probably safe, studies suggest that long-term exposure to sorbic acid can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Also, guar gum may lower blood pressure and can be dangerous for people with hypoglycemia. In addition, guar gum should not be consumed at least two weeks prior to surgery.
Even more so than reduced fat, fat-free cream cheese seems miles away from regular. If you were to compare the ingredients between regular cream cheese and fat-free cream cheese, you may think you are looking at two very different products. In fact, you wouldn't be far from the truth in thinking so. Unlike either the regular or reduced fat versions, fat-free cream cheese has protein-concentrated skim milk (which contains less than 2% tripolyphosphate sugar), artificial color, artificial flavor, carrageenan, potassium sorbate, calcium propionate, and sodium phosphate - each of which pose their own long list of potential side effects. Potassium sorbate, for example, may cause diarrhea and nausea when taken in large amounts. Artificial flavors have been shown to increase hyperactivity in children and even damage the central nervous system.
When it comes to eating cream cheese, it's basically a choice between loading your body with cholesterol and saturated fats - or taking in a dose of additives and synthetic chemicals. Neither should be considered a part of anyone's diet.
Possible short-term side effects
- skin irritation
Possible long-term side effects
- weight gain
- renal failure
- heart disease
Ingredients to be aware of
- good source of vitamin a
- good source of calcium
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Written by Jeff Volling | 01-03-2016
Written by Jeff Volling
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