For all my coffee people, this one is for you. Whether you drink your coffee straight, with cream, or load up on the sugar, there is something for you in this read. For those of you who do love some extra sweetness in your cup, let’s uncover which creamers, sweeteners, and syrups are good to go and which one’s have got to go. Enjoy the next few minutes of sweet reading as we dig into the healthiest coffee indulgences.
Coffee creamer is one of the most popular coffee additives and is admired by some for enhancing the flavor of coffee by cutting its acidity. But, what about its effect on your health? Is it possible that this seemingly innocent indulgence is sabotaging your diet?
Creamers are known for adding sweetness to the bold flavor of coffee but can do more harm than good when it comes to sugar content and toxic ingredients. A splash of creamer may seem innocent but can turn the coffee bean itself into a sugary sludge. Even the name itself is deceiving as most creamers aren’t actually made with cream but a thickening agent that is known to cause inflammation, digestive problems, and other health risks. Here are the most common ingredients used in creamers and why you should avoid them at all cost.
Thickeners (carrageenan, gellan, gum, cellulose gum)
Emulsifiers such as gellan gum, cellulose gum, and gellan can alter healthy levels of intestinal bacteria. This disrupts the lining of the gut and can contribute to inflammation and bloating in the digestive tract and colon.
Hydrogenated Oils (vegetable oil or palm oil)
We’ve all heard about vegetable oil and how it’s basically the worst thing for your body so it’s an obvious no when it comes to vegetable oil in your cup of coffee. This ingredient is a type of trans fat that food manufacturers use to keep their food/ beverages lasting longer. While your food might last longer, your health is being obstructed by the added chemicals. Vegetable oil is detrimental to your health as it can’t be synthesized (cannot be manufactured/ processed) and causes a build-up in your body when too much is consumed. This one just isn’t worth ruining a good ole cup of coffee over.
Another big addition to coffee creamers is artificial flavors. Artificial flavors aren’t natural or real in any sense; this ingredient is made in a lab to mimic the flavor of the real thing… it’s common for people to add caramel, vanilla, or mocha to their coffee thinking it’s a simple addition to sweeten up their brew but what’s really happening is you’re putting synthetic ingredients into your body.
This next ingredient is also found in Twinkies which is the first red flag…. Polysorbate 60 is an additive used as an emulsifier, foaming agent, dispersing agent, and wetting agent… none of which contribute to health.
BHA & BHT
Chemical preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are used to keep foods from changing color, flavor, and/ or becoming rancid. One study found that these preservatives negatively affected sleep by altering serotonin and norepinephrine levels. In addition to sleep altering effects, BHA and BHT have also been linked to reproductive disorders.
Artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, Sucralose, and Acesulfame Potassium are sugar substitutes that duplicate the effect of sugar in taste, but usually have little to no calories. Sugar-free or zero-calorie options aren’t necessarily better for you as they contain artificial sweetness and can contrarily lead to weight gain.
Most sugar-free coffee creamers include artificial sweetens and shouldn’t be consumed regularly or at all. Sugar might be the most obvious ingredient used in coffee creamers and has a multitude of “side effects” your body won’t appreciate. On average Americans consume 152 pounds of sugar each year and exceed the FDA recommended daily amount of 50 grams… that’s about 12.5 teaspoons of sugar each day! Sugar isn’t just found in creamers but essentially anything that is packaged… keep an eye out for sugars found in creamer, milk, etc.
Instead of listing off which creamers include which of these harmful ingredients, here’s a list of creamers to avoid at all costs.
On the other hand, here are some healthy alternatives to go for!
I have personally used collagen creamer as an alternative to cream/ milk/ sugar. Collagen aids in bone strength, skin elasticity, and strengthening of the hair and nails… this is a great addition to your morning routine and has additional benefits as well! The primary sweetening ingredient in this additive is monk fruit which is rich in antioxidants and has zero GI.
Cinnamon might be a more usual pairing with coffee but has plenty of health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant content, blood sugar stabilizing properties, and more!
Half and half is a simple alternative with no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, dairy, or thickeners.
Almond MALK (unsweetened) consists of organic almonds, Himalayan salt, and filtered water, whereas nut milk brands often contain gums and hydrocolloids for a thicker texture, emulsifiers such as soy or sunflower lecithin, and other added flavors.
Laird superfood creamer never uses anything artificial in their products, so unlike many creamers on the market, Superfood Creamers contain no artificial flavors, colors, or ingredients.
Instead of having added sugar on the list of ingredients in your creamer look for natural sweeteners such as organic cane sugar or monk fruit. For plant-based coffee creamers, opt for ingredients that are simple and legible. Many plant based creamers are easy and inexpensive to make at home and offer a creamy, clean flavor to your coffee. Homemade oat, coconut, and almond creamers require 3 simple ingredients and are much more cost effective than store bought products. Check out these recipes for homemade plant-based milks/ coffee creamer!
COCONUT VANILLA CREAMER
*15 ounce can full fat coconut milk
*2 TBS maple syrup
*2 TSP vanilla extract
*1 cup raw almonds
*2 cups water
*½ cup coconut cream (from one can coconut milk)
*Optional: ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoon maple syrup, a pinch of salt.
*1/3 cup steel-cut rolled oats
*¾ cup water filtered
*2 tablespoon coconut oil
If you prefer to buy your fixings from the store, here are some final tips to remember when choosing a “safe” coffee creamer.
- Read the ingredients and look at the label- labels should be easy to read and short and simple. If you can’t pronounce it don’t buy it.
- Look out for the sugar amount and stay clear of anything with more than 12 g of sugar.
- Sugar-free is only a safe option there aren’t any artificial sweeteners like aspartame, Sucralose, or erythritol.
- When in doubt half and half is a better substitute than any creamer because it is less processed, contains, less fat, and is less likely to contain toxic additives and added sugar.
Each of the recommended coffee creamers can be found in grocery stores and online. Everything is about balance and moderation so don’t kick yourself if you’ve used the same creamer every day for years! It’s never too late to try something new and do what makes your body feel good. Sip, savor, and enjoy your coffee however you like it!