Want a better, cheaper alternative?
You can make whipped cream at home using cream, powdered sugar, and some salt. Use a fork or an electric mixer to whip the cream until soft peaks form.
You have just made a delicious strawberry shortcake, but does it still seem like something is missing? Oh yes, whipped cream on top. With no time to make whipped cream, you decide to use Cool Whip for a quick topping on your strawberry shortcake. However, you might want to take a look at the list of ingredients in Cool Whip before doing so. First introduced by the Birds Eye division of General Foods in 1966, and invented by William A. Mitchell, Cool Whip went on to become one of the most popular products for the company. The company later merged with Kraft Foods. It was a rage among housewives who used it quite extensively for perfecting their pumpkin pies or for their chocolate mousses, and soon it became a staple in suburban and rural kitchens. After all, who can resist the fluffy white texture of this cream.

It may resemble whipped cream in taste and texture, but it is not whipped cream. One look at the ingredient list will make you realize that nothing about Cool Whip is reminiscent of real whipped cream. For starters, there is nothing natural about it. Overloaded with chemicals and toxic substances, this whipped cream substitute is certainly not the best for you and your family.

Cool Whip Ingredients

The ingredients for Cool Whip original are as follows:

Hydrogenated vegetable oil (Coconut and Palm Kernel Oils)
High-fructose corn syrup
Corn syrup
Skim milk
Light cream
Less than 2% sodium caseinate (a milk derivative)
Natural and artificial flavor
Xanthan and guar gum
Polysorbate 60
Sorbitan monostearate
Beta-carotene (Color)

Explaining the Ingredients

With an ingredient list that long, you are assured of something that is highly processed. However, just to make things clear, here is a detailed description of the major ingredients and what they actually do.

Water (and loads of air)
The first ingredient is water and, like other whipped creams, lots of air. Although there is nothing particularly toxic about water, it is highly dissatisfying to imagine that what we are actually paying for (around 41 cents per ounce) is mostly water and loads of air. Since the ingredients are listed in order of amounts that are actually used in the product, the higher the product is on the list the more of it is used in the product. This means that you are mostly paying for water and air.

Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
Since Cool Whip does not use cream, and yet has to resemble whipped cream, it uses hydrogenated vegetable oils, namely hydrogenated coconut and palm kernel oils, for achieving the whipped cream texture. The process of partially hydrogenating oils may increase the shelf life of the product, but it also produces trans fats. They are known to increase the risk of heart disease by raising LDL (bad cholesterol) and lowering HDL (good cholesterol). It is also linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and breast and prostate cancers.

Corn Syrup and High-fructose Corn Syrup
Made by treating a large quantity of glucose with an enzyme that changes part of the glucose into a much sweeter fructose, High-fructose corn syrup is basically sugar that is devoid of enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. It is also the simplest and cheapest sugar substitute. It has an extremely negative reaction on the body as it leaches the micro nutrients, and leaves the person feeling hungry. It does not signal the brain to release leptin when you are full, and also does not suppress ghrelin. The result is that you continue eating. Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup contain reactive carbonyl molecules that can cause tissue damage, and therefore, contribute heavily to weight gain, obesity, and diabetes.

Sodium Caseinate
Milk contains two proteins, with casein being the primary protein, and whey being the other. They are present in an 80:20 ratio. Milk processing involving high temperatures and harsh chemicals serves to denature the proteins. This processing is essential to produce sodium caseinate, which is a modified milk protein used in production of bakery items and meats. However, people with strict milk-protein allergies should avoid products that include casein or sodium caseinate.

Moreover, when casein and other molecules are stabilized by alkalization with sodium hydroxide, it creates many harmful by-products. When the pH of the protein and by-products has been altered, the kidneys find it difficult to purify the material moving through them, which causes kidney failure, especially if the ingredient is consumed in large quantities. This dairy derivative has also been linked to autism and brain malfunctions.

Xanthan and Guar Gum
These thickening agents work by combining sugar with bacteria. They are also a natural laxative, and when consumed in large quantities can cause diarrhea.

Polysorbate 60
Widely used in the food industry as an emulsifier and thickening agent, polysorbate 60― the short form of polyoxyethylene (20) and sorbitan monostearate―is made of corn, palm oil, and petroleum. It is created by mixing sorbitol with ethylene oxide and fatty acids that are obtained from vegetable oil and fats. This chemical is linked to diarrhea as well as organ toxicity and tumors. It is also a major ingredient in cosmetics and even in some sexual lubricants!

Sorbitan Monostearate
Why doesn't Cool Whip turn liquid when refrigerated? Well, all thanks to sorbitan monostearate, or rather synthetic wax. Yes, we eat wax. Apparently, this ingredient is also used as a hemorrhoid cream. Makes it so much worse, doesn't it?

Despite its lack of any redeeming qualities, or rather ingredients, Cool Whip remains quite popular. Most people do not even consider looking at the ingredients list before buying. This can be a mistake as you are exposing your family and yourself to chemicals that can cause quite a lot of damage. So, if you are looking for a perfect garnish for your lime pie or cherry cobbler, skip the processed version, and make some fresh whipped cream at home in minutes with a few added calories, rather than consuming something that is unhealthy.