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Ask Tufts Experts June 2018 Issue

Q “Are non-stick cooking sprays healthy? Do they add anything to food I need to worry about?”

A. Alicia Romano, MS, RD, LDN, Registered Dietitian, Frances Stern Nutrition Center, Tufts Medical Center, answers: “People use cooking sprays for convenience and to limit their use of butter and oil. However, cooking sprays themselves are not completely free of calories and fat, and the typical recommended serving of spray is delivered in a fraction of a second—far less than the long spray time that many people use.

“Cooking sprays may provide a convenient opportunity to grease pans and baking dishes; however, this may come with a compromise on flavor and satisfaction with the meal as well as ingestion of potential additives present in many aerosol based sprays.

“If choosing a cooking spray, it is important to read the ingredients list. Although many brands use actual plant-based oils, such as canola, as the primary ingredient, some brands may use a mixture of oils and artificial flavorings. Additionally, more traditional aerosol cooking sprays contain not only oil, but also an emulsifier (often soy lecithin), an antifoaming agent and a liquid propellant, such as propane or others.

“Newer sprays are available that eliminate the antifoaming agent and switch the propellant to carbon dioxide. Some products use non-aerosol technology where the gas and oil never mix in the can.

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) maintains that cooking sprays are safe for consumption. If you prefer to stay away from additives in cooking sprays, then avoiding cooking sprays may be the best option for you.”

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