Shopper’s Guide: Coffee Accoutrements (Creamers)

If you like your coffee a bit on the lighter side, it used to be that your choices included milk, cream, half & half, or the occasional non-dairy creamer. These days, you can still choose from those, but the list has grown. Not only can you decide if you want your creamer made from dairy, non-dairy, almond, coconut, or soy, but you can also select from an assortment of flavors as well. And, creamers aren’t just for coffee anymore. Folks use it in tea, hot chocolate, in decadent versions of French toast, and more to add a flavor boost. But how does that addition impact your health?

The answer to that depends on what your health concerns are. Creamers come with a wide variety of nutrition profiles. Some are fairly high in saturated fat which may not be great if watching your cholesterol while others have added sugar, which we’ve been advised to limit. The bottom line, coffee creamers (when used in moderation) can fit into an overall healthy eating plan. If you work to follow a balanced diet, then enjoying a couple of tablespoons of coffee creamer a day shouldn’t negate all the benefits you’re reaping.

Helpful Hints. Consider the following the next time you lighten your drink.

  • Au natural. Many creamers contain artificial ingredients. If you’re looking for a more natural flavoring, consider using just a bit of light cream or half & half and a dash of pure vanilla, peppermint, or other extract.
  • Enough is enough. If you have one or two cups of joe a day, a little bit of flavored cream doesn’t contribute much, nutritionally speaking, to your diet. However, if you’re downing eight cups a day, depending your creamer of choice, you could be adding up to 800 additional calories, as much as 96 grams of fat, and an average of about 13 grams of added sugar per cup.
  • Watch your pour. A serving is one to two tablespoons of creamer. Going a little overboard is okay, but keep in mind that the added creamer carries added calories, fat and sugar.

—Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD

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