Why Coffee Creamers are Bad for You (& 5 Safer Alternatives)

Coffee itself is low in calories and potentially beneficial, but it’s easy to turn a healthy cup of coffee into an unhealthy one by adding certain ingredients.

While most people are aware that adding excessive sugar or high-calorie creamer is detrimental to their waistline, they often overlook the unhealthy effects of non-dairy coffee creamer.

A vast majority, 72 percent, of coffee drinkers enjoy their brew with a dairy or non-dairy coffee creamer, and 30 percent sweeten their coffee with a sweetener, as reported by HuffPost.

Flavored coffee creamers have gained popularity as they offer a combination of flavors. It’s understandable to want to replicate this experience at home to save money and avoid daily coffee shop expenses.

However, before using commercially available coffee creamers, it’s important to know what goes into them and why it may be wise to limit their consumption.

Understanding the different type of coffee creamers

If you’re among the 72 percent who like to add milk or non-dairy options to their coffee, you’re likely to reach for heavy cream, half-and-half, or coffee creamer.

Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, is the high-fat cream skimmed off the top of fresh milk and sold separately.

Cream is categorized based on its fat content, sometimes with added thickeners for consistency. Half-and-half is a mixture of cream and milk, providing a thicker consistency than milk but with lower fat content than cream.

Fat-free versions of half-and-half may use corn syrup as a substitute for cream, resulting in higher sugar content.

Coffee creamers, such as Dunkin’ Vanilla and Coffee Mate Snickers, typically do not contain real milk and are marketed as non-dairy and lactose-free.

However, most coffee creamers are made with a combination of water, sugar, and vegetable oil. Additives like carrageenan, cellulose gum, and artificial flavorings are also used to mimic the texture and taste of real creamers.

Is Coffee Mate good for you?

If you walk into many workplaces, you’ll find it there—ten out of ten. It’s popular because it’s quick, easy, and cheap. However, it’s also the epitome of a bad coffee creamer.

Almost all creamers are similar in composition. Take a look at Coffee Mate’s first ingredient: corn syrup.

Glucose syrup is almost always made from corn. The image is taken from Nestle’s site.

Oddly, they claim zero grams of added sugar, but when the first ingredient is corn syrup, it raises questions.

The trickery lies in the serving size, which is three-quarters of a teaspoon. They can claim zero sugar if it’s below a certain amount per serving. But let’s be honest, corn syrup as the primary ingredient is not cool.

The next ingredient is hydrogenated vegetable oil, which makes it shelf-stable and creamy.

Unfortunately, vegetable oil is already processed, refined, and inflammatory, and hydrogenation worsens these effects. It’s also likely derived from genetically modified sources.

The flavoring in creamers such as Coffee Mate is artificial. This applies not only to Coffee Mate but to most creamers on the market.

But Coffee Mate isn’t the only coffee creamer on the market, there many others like it and most of the same criticisms above still apply.

Why coffee creamer is bad for you

Food additives

Although some people choose non-dairy creamers due to lactose intolerance, it’s important to note that these products may still contain milk protein called casein, which can trigger allergic reactions in individuals with milk allergies.

This means that even those who avoid dairy for allergy reasons may experience discomfort after consuming non-dairy creamers.

Additionally, in order to replicate the qualities of dairy creamers, manufacturers often add ingredients like sugar, sodium, food coloring, and corn syrup. Some non-dairy creamers may even contain trans fats, which are detrimental to cholesterol levels.

There are other ingredients you should avoid in coffee creamers such as thickeners like carrageenan, cellulose gum, and polysorbate 60.

These additives can harm your gut health and contribute to a condition called leaky gut, which triggers inflammation throughout your body. While they may provide a thick texture, they can lead to numerous problems.

Artificial flavors like propylene glycol can disrupt your hormones and immune system, leading to imbalances and frequent illnesses.

Coffee creamers can cause weight gain

Flavored creamers can also be a hidden source of calories. While some claim to have low calorie, fat, and sugar content, it’s essential to consider the serving size, which is typically around one tablespoon.

 An unmeasured pour can easily exceed this amount, leading to higher calorie and sugar intake, particularly if you consume multiple cups of coffee with creamer throughout the day.

Surprisingly, non-dairy creamers marketed as fat-free often have the highest calorie content, with some containing up to 65 calories in just two tablespoons. These creamers may also contain other unhealthy additives like sugar, salt, corn syrup, and food colorings.

It’s worth keeping in mind that excessive consumption of sweetened creamers can contribute to weight gain. Daily consumption of sweetened creamer pours can potentially result in a 15-pound weight gain per year, as reported by Eat This, Not That.

Lastly, coffee creamers contain artificial sweeteners that should be avoided.

Sucralose, for example, can interfere with your sense of satiety and trick your body into craving more food. This can lead to overeating and difficulty with weight loss. Starting your day with high-quality protein and healthy fats, rather than artificial sweeteners, can help regulate your appetite and metabolism.

In conclusion, what you add to your coffee can significantly impact its nutritional value. It’s important to be mindful of the ingredients in coffee creamers and consider healthier alternatives to maintain a balanced diet.

Alternatives to coffee creamer

Regular milk or almond or oat milk

To make a healthier choice for your coffee, it’s best to avoid non-dairy coffee creamers. If you don’t enjoy plain black coffee, consider using regular milk or exploring non-dairy alternatives like almond or oat milk.

These options will be better for your heart and waistline.

Grass fed butter powder

Another option is 100% grass-fed butter powder, which works well as a coffee creamer, especially if you’re looking to gain weight or prefer a bulletproof-style coffee.

If you can find grass-fed butter powder online, that’s fantastic.

Organic oat creamers (but watch ingredients)

Organic oat creamer may seem like a healthy choice, but check the ingredients.

Some organic oat creamers contain four grams of cane sugar per tablespoon, along with canola oil and natural flavor, which isn’t desirable.

Make your own coffee creamer

You can also make a better, home made coffee creamer with just three simple ingredients.

Take a quart-size mason jar and combine equal parts of half-and-half and condensed milk (sweetened or not, depending on preference).

Next, add a generous amount of real vanilla extract.

Secure the lid tightly and shake the jar until everything is well mixed.

This homemade creamer can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks without any issues.

Now, simply add the homemade creamer to your coffee according to your taste preferences.