Coffee Creamer: Good or Bad?

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Styrofoam Coffee Cup

Photo by: T. McNem

T. McNem

Do you start your morning with a splash of liquid coffee creamer? Find out if that's a smart way to begin the day.

Good

It's hard to deny–the stuff tastes good. Sweet? Yes! Creamy? For Sure! The wide variety of flavors (including seasonal favorites like pumpkin spice and peppermint-mocha) makes these easy-to-pour bottles a staple in many fridges.

Folks that suffer from common allergies also have reasons to smile. Despite their name, most liquid creamers are lactose-free; they're also gluten-free.

For fans of real food, it's a little disheartening to see that these "creamers" contain no actual cream (more on this below). On the plus side, some popular brands are now offering products that contain a blend of nonfat milk, cream, sugar and flavorings that are also lower in calories than the traditional versions.

Bad

You may be wondering, if there's no dairy, what are these creamy imposters made of? They're nothing but concoctions of oil, sugar and thickeners. To make matters worse, the oils are the partially hydrogenated kind. While a one-tablespoon serving contains less than 0.5 grams of this super unhealthy trans fat, slurping this every morning will quickly pile up.

These creamers come in fat-free and sugar-free varieties too. They're made from the same mixture of unhealthy oils, thickeners, plus additional chemicals from artificial sweeteners--it just doesn't seem worth the 10 to 20 calorie savings. Even varieties that contain real dairy are spiked with thickeners and stabilizers.

The Verdict: Go for the real deal. If you enjoy a bit of sweet creaminess in your coffee, do it the old fashioned way, with measured portions of cream and sugar.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

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