It remains a staple in most cups of coffee. While it has its advantages, does it do more harm than good? Read on “is coffee creamer bad for you” to find out.
Coffee lovers have their reasons for choosing store-bought coffee creamers over milk, and I don’t blame them. The array of options being released is almost endless these days, and it definitely beats plain milk in terms of flavor – this is why coffee creamer consumption in the United States continues to increase yearly.
Dietitians and nutritionists have begun to sound the alarm, though. Since most store-bought coffee creamer is heavily processed, the drawbacks may outweigh the advantages. Regardless, coffee creamers such as Coffee Mate and International Delight still bring something to the table.
The Pros Of Coffee Creamers
The first obvious advantage that coffee creamers bring is their capacity to elevate the taste and creaminess of your cup of Joe. Creamers are flavorful and easy to use. You don’t often get the chance to turn your black coffee into an Irish Creme Latte right at home with a few drops of creamer.
It is also perfect for those who are on certain diets or have dietary restrictions or allergies. Most store-bought coffee creamers are lactose-free and gluten-free, which makes them ideal for those who are allergic to milk or celiac disease sufferers. There are also dairy-free choices for vegans.
Another advantage is its accessibility. Most, if not all, grocery stores and supermarkets have a coffee creamer in stock compared to its alternatives, such as almond milk or oat milk.
The number of flavors to choose from, each with distinct features, is an attractive selling point as well. For instance, Coffee Mate and International Delight offer sugar-free French Vanilla and hazelnut flavors that can truly brighten up your morning cup.
Sadly, little to no health benefits can be acquired from these coffee creamers. If taken without moderation, the ingredients which make it lactose-free, gluten-free, or sugar-free can have an undesirable effect on your body.
The Drawbacks Of Coffee Creamers
There is always a trade-off when something is free of something, and our beloved non-dairy creamers are no exception. While it is true that it doesn’t contain milk, they have to emulate the creaminess and texture of dairy products.
First is casein, which is a milk derivative. It is a type of protein often found in milk which gives its white color and creamy notes.
This might not be an issue to some, but it could be bad news for the lactose-intolerant or those who have milk allergies since they can have a negative reaction. As it turns out, most coffee creamers aren’t automatically dairy-free.
Let us talk about the texture. Milk contains a high amount of fat, but since creamers don’t always contain dairy products, they use thickeners such as vegetable oil to emulate this. The problem is it is a hydrogenated oil or what we call trans fat.
Too much trans fat consumption can raise your bad cholesterol levels while simultaneously lowering the good ones. This increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, or type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, even fat-free options contain this ingredient.
How about saturated fat? That can be a silver lining.
It can also have the same effect as trans fat when left unmonitored, but in these coffee creamers, the content is minute. What you should be concerned about is the other ingredients on the list.
Emulsifiers And Stabilizers In Coffee Creamers
Since water and oil don’t blend, a food additive called mono- and diglycerides are used as a stabilizer to keep the oil from separating. This also acts as a preservative as it prolongs a coffee creamer’s shelf life. It also contains a small amount of trans fat.
Dipotassium phosphate is another compound used as an emulsifier. It can pose a problem to those who suffer from chronic kidney disease and can also lead to other cardiovascular issues when taken excessively.
Another thickener used in coffee creamers is cellulose gum. It is a food additive that gives creamers its rich and thick texture and consistency. While it is generally safe to consume and can help simulate satiety because of its high fiber content, taking too much can lead to minor gastrointestinal issues.
A controversial topic when it comes to coffee creamers is carrageenan, a thickening agent that is extracted from certain types of seaweed. The FDA approved the use of carrageenan in food in 1961, but some researchers now argue that it should be reviewed and placed under consideration.
Food-grade carrageenan was found to induce or worsen inflammation, particularly in the colon; people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease and colitis are most susceptible. We haven’t even talked about the sugar content yet.
Sugar Content In Coffee Creamers
A tablespoon of store-bought coffee creamers can have as much as five grams of sugar. Multiply that by three, for instance, and multiply by the number of your daily cups.
A regular coffee drinker can have as much as 60 grams of sugar per day, and that is just for the creamer. This can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels and weight gain. While 60 grams doesn’t look much, it actually exceeds the American Heart Association recommended daily intake, which is around 24 grams to 36 grams per day.
Coffee creamers also contain corn syrup, a form of added sugar. It is commonly used as the product’s natural sweetener to emulate the flavor of dairy but is usually cited as one of the main causes of obesity if taken in large doses.
The Catch Of Sugar-Free Creamers
How about sugar-free options? Surely, there is refuge there? Well, not quite.
Although they contain zero sugar, to compensate, they use artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and acesulfame potassium. These are common additives used in sugar-free products such as gum, yogurt, and soda, among others.
While studies are still inconclusive, existing research has shown that they can affect the microbiomes in your stomach, which aids in digestion and in fighting off infection. A study also showed that artificial sweeteners could raise blood sugar levels, but until the study is supported, it remains up in the air.
One thing that was highly suggested about artificial sweeteners is that they can increase your cravings and appetite. It is sweeter than sugar; therefore, it can trick your brain into consuming more calories for the day, leading to weight gain. Regrettably, artificial flavors added to the creamers have the same effect, as well.
Something that should always be monitored is the serving size. We have to admit that we find ourselves adding two or more tablespoons of coffee creamer into our cups, and this is where the problem arises.
Here is the bottom line for the drawbacks – creamers aren’t bad if taken modestly, but if you put in too much, especially if you are a four to five cups a-day type of drinker, then the ingredients I mentioned above can wreak havoc in your body.
You are probably thinking I’m a doomsayer. Should we give up on indulging our sweet tooth? There are healthier alternatives you can consider, but be mindful.
What Are Healthier Alternatives?
You can gradually switch to real dairy products for a healthier alternative. It is pricier than your coffee creamer, but it is worth it since you are sure of the health benefits it provides.
Milk is rich in calcium, potassium, and Vitamins A and B12, compared to store-bought creamer, which offers little nutritional value. You might also be surprised that milk also contains antioxidants such as carotenoids and retinol.
You can also try to make your own homemade dairy coffee creamer. You can control what goes in if you choose to monitor your sugar and fat intake, plus you can play with different flavors. You can check out our guide on how to coffee creamer at home!
Go for a milk substitute if you are not fond of pure whole milk in your cup of Joe. You can consider half-and-half as part of your healthy diet; it still has the nutritional content of most dairy products but with lower fat content. Learn more about this alternative by reading what is half-and-half coffee.
Plant-based milk alternatives are also something you can switch to, especially if you are lactose-intolerant. Soy milk is rich in protein and also a great source of calcium and other vitamins and minerals.
Coconut milk offers a tropical, creamy, and nutty twist to your morning cup of Joe. It is also rich in MCT or medium-chain triglycerides, a healthy fat that aids in protecting your heart and gut. Do be careful, as even though it is a great energy booster, it is also high in fat.
You can check out our list of the best healthy alternatives for coffee creamer to expand your options! I would just recommend taking your coffee black. It is the healthiest option in my book as it can promote weight loss on its own because it can boost your metabolism.
But what if you aren’t ready to let go of coffee creamer? Thankfully, there are alternatives to that as well.
Elmhurst Plant-Based Oat Creamer
Elmhurst Plant-Based Oat Creamer uses oat milk as its base and is crafted using their HydroRelease method. This means that the company uses water to preserve the vitamins and minerals of the natural ingredients in comparison with the traditional method, which compromises these nutrients and relies on emulsifiers and stabilizers.
It is dairy-free, carrageenan-free, and gluten-free, and a plus on the healthy side since it only contains less than 2% dipotassium phosphate. It comes in different flavors such as pumpkin spice, chai latte, and unsweetened.
- Pumpkin Spice Oat Creamer
- Simple Ingredients
- Made For Coffee
- Enjoy Hot or Cold
- Elmhurst Milks
Laird Superfood Creamer
Laird Superfood utilizes extra virgin coconut oil, which makes it trans-fat-free (though do be wary of the 2.5 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon). It uses organic coconut sugar as a sweetener and contains no added sugar or artificial ingredients. The cacao variant is perfect for mocha lovers, especially those hesitant to part with their flavored coffee creamer.
- PLANT-BASED COFFEE CREAMER POWDER
- CHOCOLATE LOVERS DELIGHT
- NO FILLERS OR ADDITIVES
- GUILT-FREE 5-INGREDIENT TREAT
Nutpods Almond + Coconut Creamer
Nutpods Almond + Coconut Creamer is best enjoyed by coffee lovers who follow a specific diet, like vegans or those on the ketogenic diet. It is also dairy-free and carrageenan-free. The French Vanilla flavor is noticeable but surprisingly doesn’t contain any added sugar or sweeteners.
What is even better is it is low in calories. A single serving (one tablespoon) contains only ten calories and just one gram of fat. If you are looking for the consistency of half-and-half but want to omit the dairy part, this should be your go-to.
- Creamy and Delicious Coffee Creamers
- Zero Sugar Per Serving
- Whole 30 Keto Creamer For Coffee
- Long Shelf Life