Is It Healthy: Cooking Spray

by in Is It Healthy?, May 1, 2013

cooking spray
Can the key to healthy cooking be found in an aerosol can? There are pluses and minuses to using cooking spray.

Using cooking spray as a replacement for oil and butter can help cut back the calories. Since butter and oil have 100 to 120 calories per tablespoon (respectively), switching to a spray can mean fewer calories (and grams of fat) in your cooking.

Many brands use actual oils (such as olive and canola) as the primary ingredient, others rely on other types of oil and artificial flavorings– check ingredient lists on your brand of choice.

When used in a nonstick pan, a light coating of spray can allow for grilled cheese, French toast and eggs that aren’t glued to the pan. Spray is also good option to help give oven-baked breadings a crispier crust. A neutral flavored spray (like canola oil) can also be used to grease baking dishes and cupcake pans.

The calories will go down but cutting out butter or olive oil in cooking will create a flavor deficit that a spray can’t seem to satisfy.

It’s also a common misconception that these types of spray are completely free of calories and fat – they aren’t. A serving is typically measured by a spray lasting a fraction of a second; a longer spray means more calories, and most people spray for more than one second.

It’s also common for cans to be filled with additives like soy lecithin (a no-no for soy folks with soy allergies) and propellants like nitric oxide. Propellents called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were once commonly found in spray cans but are now used less often. Excessive exposure to CFC is harmful to your health and the environment so check those labels and looks for CFC-free brands.

The Verdict: A spray here and there won’t do you any harm, but don’t get too trigger happy! Consider ways to incorporate measured amounts of real cooking oils into your daily routine as well.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (33)

  1. Frajes says:

    Thanks for this great post! I did not know that some people actually use those cooking sprays as their primary oil. I would not feel too comfortable doing this. Like you said, people should use it less just to be safe.

  2. Ansovina says:

    I totally agree on where students easily tempted on buying unnecessary things, overspending especially on hanging out with friends and other stuffs as well. This coming year school fees are getting higher so how do university students save up their money is maybe they can cook themselves instead of buying takeout food all the time.

  3. Ansovina says:

    Cooking spray may be used instead of oil on frying pans, and this is a healthier alternative with a lower calorie content. Commercial cooking sprays are adored by cooks for their ability to create a non-stick cooking surface and make clean-up a cinch. Dieters and nutritionists love them because they add fewer calories and less fat than traditional cooking oil.

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