5 Bad Coffee Creamer Ingredients And The Better Way To Flavor Your Morning Cup Of Joe
While too much of any good thing can backfire (yes, caffeine, we mean you), your morning cup of joe qualifies as beneficial to your overall well-being. That is, of course, unless you cancel out the health-boosting effects of its stellar anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant-rich polyphenols by stirring in a super sweet, flavored creamer (which many PSL drinkers are of course guilty of).
Here’s why: Many recognizable creamer brands contain—by admission on their own nutrition labels—undesirable ingredients such as corn syrup, sodium, sugar, vegetable oil, and carrageenan. “Coffee creamers are filled with sugar, unhealthy fats, fillers, thickeners, and emulsifiers,” says Dr. Charles Huang, PhD Clinical Pharmacology. So while you’re forgiven for needing a pick-me-up before your morning meeting—the pre-caffeine struggle is real—know that there’s a better way.
Many recognizable creamer brands contain—by admission on their own nutrition labels—undesirable ingredients such as corn syrup, sodium, sugar, vegetable oil, and carrageenan.
The five most common harmful ingredients found in off-the-shelf coffee creamers are:
Eating too much added sugar can have many negative health effects. An excess of sweetened foods and beverages can lead to weight gain, blood sugar problems and an increased risk of heart disease, among other dangerous conditions. ... Before you know it, your sugar habit will be a thing of the past.
2) Unhealthy Fats
There are two main types of potentially harmful dietary fats:
- Saturated fat. This type of fat comes mainly from animal sources of food, such as red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fats raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol levels, which may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Trans fat. This type of fat occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from oils through a food processing method called partial hydrogenation. These partially hydrogenated trans fats can increase total blood cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but lower HDL cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
3) Weird Preservatives
A carton of real milk or cream will stay fresh for at least a week in the refrigerator. But unless you're guzzling coffee creamer like water, there's no way you're gonna finish that giant container in a mere 7 days. Food manufacturers know this, so they make life easy by adding mold inhibitors like sodium stearoyl lactylate and dipotassium phosphate.
Surprise—most store-bought coffee creamers aren't actually made with cream. Instead, they get their rich, velvety mouthfeel from thickening agents and emulsifiers like carrageenan, a thickener thought to cause inflammation and digestive problems.
Other common ingredients are just plain gross. Cellulose gel and cellulose gum are fillers derived from wood pulp or cotton. Polysorbate 60 is a sugar alcohol-derived emulsifier that's used to keep water and oil from separating in conventional cosmetics. Do you really want to be drinking that stuff on a daily basis?
5) Artificial Flavors
That comforting caramel, hazelnut, or mocha aroma that makes waking up at the crack of dawn slightly more bearable? Sure, it could be derived from natural sources. But chances are, the tantalizing smell—and flavor—is completely, 100% fake.
That's bad news if you're trying to eat cleaner. Artificial flavors can make processed foods taste bolder and more flavorful than their unprocessed counterparts, say experts at the Environmental Working Group. And when you're used to that kind of in-your-face taste, simple, unprocessed foods can seem pretty bland by comparison.
To mimic the creaming effect of some of these products (and, if you live a dairy-free life, actual cream or milk), Dowd offers healthy alternatives that are just as satisfying. “The best alternatives are homemade nut or seeds milks,” she says. (Store-bought kinds can also be a sugar trap—so read the ingredients list!) These aren’t too tough to make—this how-to is a good place to start—but you might not always have the time, patience, or presence of mind to prepare DIY options before 9 a.m. In ASAP scenarios, you can opt instead to add MCT oil, coconut oil, ghee, butter, coconut butter, and egg, all of which will help to supercharge the flavor of your cup.
Even better news: Wellness-oriented brands are releasing coffee-centric creamer-like options with increasing frequency, many of which utilize natural, plant-based ingredients such as nut milks and coconut cream and are additionally powered up with extras like turmeric, omega-3s, and adaptogenic mushrooms.
When shopping these new age creamers, nutritionist Charles Passler notes that it’s still important to pay attention to the sugar and fat content. “If it’s all-natural and has a maximum of 4 to 5 grams of sugar and 5 grams of fat, it will only raise your blood sugar very slightly,” he says of the ideal numbers to look for on your product’s nutrition label. As for those seeking a creamer version of their no-sugar, high-fat Bulletproof coffee? Simply focus on seeing a zero sugar stat on the label since it’s all good to go all out when it comes to fat.
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