5 Worst Coffee Creamer Ingredients And The Better Way To Flavor Your Morning Cup Of Joe
Even if you’ve taken the extra time to read the label and make sure it’s sugar-free, dairy-free or all-organic, it’s likely that your creamer is still chock full of artificial (and downright dangerous) ingredients.
Maybe you reason with yourself, “It’s just one little scoop a day - how bad could it really be?"
1.) Icky Thickeners
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.
You can find this additive in many organic, non-dairy and meat products such as soy, almond, and coconut milk.
Carrageenan was tested on several different lab animals over long term use, and most of the animals developed colitis and tumors. Further research has indicated this food additive causes intestinal permeability (leaky gut) in humans.
This means that long term use of carrageenan can cause the gut to become irritated, inflamed and create holes in the lining of the gut. Food gets caught in these holes wreaking havoc on the digestive system, which make individuals chronically sick and ill.
Other common thickening ingredients, while generally considered safe, are just plain gross.
Cellulose gel and cellulose gum, for example, 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 filling your body up with this stuff first thing in the morning?
2.) Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Thickeners alone can't make a cream-free liquid taste luxuriously creamy, which is where partially hydrogenated oils, or synthetic trans fats, come in.
These highly processed fats are downright dangerous, raising levels of bad cholesterol, and put you at higher risk for heart disease. That's why most experts say you should avoid them completely. Especially in your coffee.
“Diets high in hydrogenated oils increase heart disease risk by 21 percent and deaths by 28 percent,” -The World Health Organization
These artery-clogging fats kill half a million people a year, which is why The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently urged all countries to get rid of these trans fats in their food supply immediately.
In fact, in 2015, the Food and Drug Administration ruled that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer "generally recognized as safe". Some U.S. cities, notably New York City, have also already banned them.
3.) Chemical Preservatives
Preservatives not only protect you and your foods from mold, air, bacteria, fungi, and yeast, but also they prevent food contamination. But knowing the difference between which preservatives are chemically manufactured and which are natural can make all the difference in terms of your health.
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in food products, and dairy-based creamers are no exception.
This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing the flavor or becoming rancid. Studies have shown that these preservatives affect the neurological system of the brain, altering behavior and has a potential to cause life-threatening diseases.
Bottom line: no amount of delicious creamy-goodness is worth the risk when there are perfectly healthy alternatives out there that are free from dangerous chemical preservatives. (Here’s the creamer I personally use as well as my clients.)
4.) Artificial Flavors
Ah, that soothing aroma of caramel, hazelnut, or vanilla in the morning makes rising early slightly more bearable? Sure, if it’s derived from natural sources. But chances are, the irresistible smell—and flavor—is completely, 100% fake.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substance & Disease Registry (ATSDR), propylene glycol (an ingredient found in a variety of Folger’s products) is a synthetic chemical used to absorb liquid in substances that may leak and cause contamination. It’s also used to maintain the moisture in pharmaceuticals and makeup, and it’s a solvent widely used in the paint and plastics industry.
That's bad news if you're trying to follow a clean diet. Where natural flavors are sourced by extracting the natural compounds into a concentrated form… Fake, non-natural flavors are a concoction of synthetic chemical compounds man-made to mimic the real thing.
Not necessarily an ingredient you’d want to be eating - yet it’s still labeled as “generally accepted as safe” by the FDA to consume.
Even at low concentrations, the artificial flavoring chemical propylene glycol has been linked to immune-toxicity and has been shown to cause serious disruptions to your endocrine system.
Instead, make sure your creamer label says natural flavor.
5.) Artificial Sweeteners
In an effort to make coffee creamers ultra-sweet and delicious without turning them into sugar-filled calorie-bombs, manufacturers rely on fake sweeteners like sucralose.
But here’s the problem: sucralose has been proven to still cause your blood sugar to spike, which findings suggest could up your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Researchers also suggest that artificial sweeteners may prevent us from associating sweetness with caloric intake. As a result, we may crave more sweets, tend to choose sweet food over nutritious food, and gain weight.
In fact, multiple large-scale studies over the last 30 years have repeatedly found that artificial sweetener users gained more weight or had higher BMIs than those who didn’t use them.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, recent research shows that artificial sweeteners also alter the microbiome and can kill off good bacteria in our gut. In 2014, Israeli researchers demonstrated, in both laboratory animals as well as humans, that glucose intolerance (which sets the stage for full-blown diabetes) is related to changes in the gut bacteria induced by artificial sweeteners.
Since having healthy gut flora is vital for our overall health, extending from immunity to acne to your mood and mental health, it begs the question: are the side effects of artificially sweetened creamers a good trade-off?
No, it’s a crazy one. Instead, look for plant-based natural sweeteners like Stevia or Monk Fruit Extract on the label.
The Better Way To Flavor Your Coffee
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ve gained the motivation to toss your junk-filled creamer in the garbage. But if you’re still not ready to convert to a plain old all-black coffee, you’ll likely need an alternative.
You could always add a splash of unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk instead of using conventional creamer. But if you’re looking for an ultra indulgent flavor to awaken your senses in the morning, then that's not gonna cut it.
Level up your coffee experience. Learn more about our decadent-tasting and super healthy Butter Pecan Keto Collagen Creamer.