While coffee is not bad for you, the things you put into that cup of Joe might be. People put lots of different things into coffee, and consume even more stuff on the side, so we’ll start with just one question: is coffee creamer bad for you?
Milk or cream
If you hear “creamer” and think of milk or cream, let’s split the difference and look at half and half, a mix of cream and milk. One tablespoon gives you
- 3 grams fat
- 1 gram sugar
- 1 gram protein
It also provides some Vitamin A and calcium, and it’s the least processed thing we’re going to talk about today. If you pour from the carton, that splash of half and half might be more than one tablespoon, so notice your portion size.
Non dairy creamer
We can compare these powdery coffee lighteners to cream directly in terms of macronutrients. The typical nondairy creamer powder contains
- 1.5 grams fat
- 5 grams of sugar
- 0 protein
Since the fat in nondairy creamer is usually trans fat, it is an unhealthy type of fat. There’s 1.5 grams in a tablespoon, but most people who use it load 2 to 4 tablespoons into their cup of coffee, so it’s not really a better option than half and half when it comes to fat.
Sugar is included in most coffee creamers, but many people who choose cream will also dip into the sugar bowl.
As for protein, that powder can’t compete with the natural dairy product.
The ingredients in nondairy creamer are more complicated than the ingredients in half and half (cream and milk). Creamer is a highly processed food containing things like corn syrup solids, hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut and/or palm kernel and/or soybean), sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, sodium aluminosilicate, mono- and diglycerides, cellulose gel, cellulose gum, carragenan, artificial flavor, and artificial color.
But there is another ingredient in coffee creamer: fun.
You may enjoy cream in your coffee, but nondairy creamer comes in flavors like Southern Butter Pecan, Caramel Macchiato, Peppermint Mocha, Irish Crème, Cinnamon Swirl, White Chocolate Raspberry, Peanut Butter Cup, Snickerdoodle, and Amaretto. Mooning over the choice between Vanilla Lemon and Dark Chocolate Orange could add an element of excitement to your coffee break.
Best health choice
Coffee creamer is not good for you, but it is very popular, convenient, and even fun. Here are some healthier options:
- Reduce the amount you drink. Measure it into your coffee instead of scooping or shaking it in, and cut back a little bit each day till you’re using 1 tablespoon or less per cup.
- Switch it out for half and half. Work toward milk or your favorite milk alternative.
- Cut back on sugar, too, shaving off 1/2 teaspoon every day or two.