Non-dairy coffee creamers seem like an innocent alternative for those who are lactose intolerant.
However, as non-dairy creamers become more popular, speculation about their healthiness has grown as well. Are dairy-free coffee creamers really good for you?
According to most studies, using non-dairy creamer could have a negative impact on your health, especially if you're trying to lose weight.
Here are five reasons why.
Why Non-Dairy Creamers Aren't As Healthy As You Think:
1. Non-Dairy Creamers Add Calories
Plain black coffee has almost no calories, but the calories start to pile up when you add something like non-dairy creamer. Each tablespoon of non-dairy creamer is 10-20 calories compared to the five calories you get in a tablespoon of nonfat milk.
This may not seem like a big difference, but when you're counting calories for weight loss, every little bit counts.
2. Dairy Free Might Not Be Dairy Free
While many non-dairy creamers don't contain lactose, they may still contain casein, a milk protein that can trigger reactions in those with milk allergies. Casein is added to non-dairy creamer for flavor and texture.
If you are allergic or especially sensitive to milk, you may react to casein. Additionally, vegans drinking non-dairy creamer likely won't be pleased with this.
3. They Contain Extra Ingredients
In addition to casein, sugar, sodium, and corn syrup may be included in a non-dairy creamer's ingredient list to add the flavor you lose when you leave out milk or cream. You should also be on the lookout for food coloring that's added to mimic the way milk and cream changes the color of your coffee. Here are a few other ingredients in non-dairy creamer you'll want to think twice about putting into your morning cup of coffee:
Natural flavors – You've probably heard of MSG (monosodium glutamate) and how it's bad for you. Related forms of MSG are sometimes labeled as "natural" flavors. Some MSG may also be based from soy, which could cause problems for people with severe allergies.
Dipotassium phosphate – Used as a stabilizer and anti-coagulant in non-dairy creamer, this chemical is also used in fertilizers and cosmetics. When consumed on a regular basis, it can potentially cause kidney problems and interfere with some medications.
Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate (SSL) – SSL replaces fat and sugar but is also used as a cleanser, foaming agent, and in cosmetics. Consuming it in excess can lead to abnormal sodium levels in the body and food intolerance symptoms like headaches, stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.
4. Some Brands Contain Trans Fat
Trans fat increases your bad cholesterol while reducing your more beneficial cholesterol (HDL). In turn, this can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. If a creamer's ingredients list includes "partially hydrogenated oil," that means trans fat. It's recommended that you shouldn't consume more than two grams of trans fat in a day; some brands of non-dairy creamer contain one gram per tablespoon!
5. Non-dairy Creamer Can Go Bad
While it's certainly true that non-dairy creamer keeps longer than milk or cream, it still has an expiration date. Both powdered and liquid non-dairy creamers can go bad and should be discarded if they have an odd flavor, appearance, or odor. Old creamer can become a festering pot for bacteria.
Healthier Alternatives To Non-Dairy Creamers
So, what’s the best alternative for lactose intolerant coffee drinkers? The best alternative is a high-quality, dairy-free milk. Soy, rice, almond or coconut milk provide a similar creaminess in your coffee without the artificial ingredients. However, you should always read the packaging, as some of these often contain added sugar and preservatives.
If you enjoy thicker cream, coconut cream is an excellent alternative. Every can of coconut milk contains a rich, decadent layer of coconut cream on the top. You can scoop this white layer out and store it in the fridge for your morning coffee. The heat from the hot drink will melt the condensed coconut. Coconut products are also known for their health benefits, particularly in terms of your immune system and weight management.
*This post has been updated and republished for accuracy and freshness.
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