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The Truth About Coffee Creamers

Are you a coffee drinker and can’t stand to take it black? Guest blogger Nikki Jencen is here to shed some light on all those non-dairy coffee creamers and what’s really in them and what you can do about it.

People love their beloved creamers. It feels good to know that in seconds you’ll have a sweet, buttery, joyful cup of Joe. Coffee is what gets us up in the morning, gives us a gift for going to work and doing something we don’t really care about. There are so many brands of creamers out there, but let me tell you, they aren’t all created equal. Actually, this might surprise you but the creamer you may be using could be the reason why you have eczema, asthma, hormone imbalance, thyroid issues, skin rashes, and the list goes on.  I’m going to divulge a little later what happened to me when I started drinking Nestlé Natural Vanilla Creamer.  But first, I reviewed a few creamers that you may consuming as we speak – what I found may surprise you.

Non Dairy Creamers, No Refrigeration Required

My first question is: why do non dairy creamers contain milk? The powdered non dairy coffee creamer that I investigated was a Vons brand “Light Original Coffee Creamer” which offers a tid bit of CHOLESTEROL FREE – which would appear to be attractive to the cholesterol free consumer. It also says “lactose free”, which is great for the person who can’t tolerate dairy. On the front of this creamer it’s looking attractive; a beautiful cup of coffee, with a biscotti on the side of it and it offers “0 trans fat per serving” (great on the thighs too!). The problem lies when you turn the bottle over.  When you look at the nutritional facts, (which are completely worthless in my opinion) it appears to be a healthy choice. It’s only 10 little calories per serving. How nice! Right? WRONG! Now onto the deception…The ingredients.

Vons/Generic brand “Light Original Coffee Creamer”

The ingredients:

  • Corn syrup solids (GMO – but doesn’t mention that, plus all fat storing sugar)
  • Partially hydrogenated soybean oil (trans fat but advertises 0 trans fat plus GMO)
  • Sodium caseinate (a milk derivative, casein is a milk protein)
  • Sugar (GMO)
  • Dipotassium phosphate (often used in fertilizers but it’s a food additive)
  • Artificial color (synthetic food coloring)
  • Silicon dioxide (synthetic mineral)
  • Mono- and diglycerides (another form of trans fat that combines fat and water together)
  • Carrageenan (red indigestible seaweed that is used as a food additive)
  • Soy lecithin (derived from soybeans and used as a preservative)
  • Artificial flavor (who knows where this is derived from)

The answer to my question: “Why does non-dairy creamers contain milk?” it doesn’t contain actual milk/lactose but it does contain casein which is a protein derived from milk and eggs. For those who have a dairy allergy, you may still react to this product. The worst part of this product, it’s not real food by any means. It’s all chemicals or ingredients that have been made in a lab, and then food scientists bottled it and called it a yummy consumable, digestible coffee creamer. Continual use of this product will lead you to nothing good.

Carrageenan

If you haven’t already heard about carrageenan than I’m glad you’re reading this. Scientist over the years have tested this red seaweed that helps with gelling or thickening a product. It was approved by the FDA, and advertised as a natural thickening agent. This was great news for many all natural and organic products; it seems as though this is what they were looking for to make their product thick and beautiful.  You can find this additive in many organic, non dairy and meat products such as soy, almond, and coconut milks. 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.

So what does that mean for you? It means over long term use 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 a person chronically sick and ill.

Mini Moo’s Half and Half and Non-Refrigerated Creamers

Have you ever been to a restaurant and they give you the single serve creamers instead of the pourable cream? I was actually surprised to see what the additives were since they don’t require refrigeration.

Mini Moo Single Serve Half and Half

The ingredients:

  • Milk (GMO fed/raised cows)
  • Cream (GMO fed/raised cows)
  • Sodium Citrate (sodium salts of citric acid)
  • Datem (emulsifier derived from soy, canola, or palm oil – ALL GMO)
  • Tetra Sodium Pyrophosphate (salt, used as a thickener)
  • Carrageenan (see above)

This is definitely not a creamer you want to use on a daily basis. It’s a once in a blue moon, in a pinch kind of creamer. If you’re not sure what GMO stands for, it means “Genetically Modified Organism” which basically means the “food” has been engineered with superpower strength to kill bugs, withstand weather, and it comes with built in Roundup. Research is still being conducted on the affects of GMOs on the human body but only time will tell. GMOs have been banned in numerous countries, but since the US was the creator of GMO Franken foods, the likelihood of the US banning them is highly unlikely at this point.

When you add flavor to non-refrigerated creamers such as hazelnut, the ingredient list is miles long. The interesting part is the ingredients don’t list the actual hazelnut flavor, it just says “natural and artificial flavors” so who knows where the flavor is actually derived from. Now there are non-refrigerated liquid creamers that are advertised as “New!” but you have to refrigerate after opening.

Coffee Mate Liquid Creamer Hazelnut Flavor, New!

The ingredients:

  • Water (filtered?)
  • Sugar (GMO)
  • Partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil (contains transfat but not required by the FDA to
  • mention it on the label)
  • Less than 2% of sodium caseinate (milk protein)
  • Mono-and diglycerides (transfat; if this ingredient is added the FDA says it’s ok to list 0 trans fat on label)
  • Dipotassium phosphate (often used in fertilizers but it’s a food additive)
  • Cellulose gel (indigestible carbohydrate used as an anti-caking agent or thickener)
  • Natural and artificial flavors (flavors derived from some unknown place)
  • Color added (fake food coloring/dye)
  • Cellulose gum (similar to gel)
  • Carrageenan (see above)

On the bottom of the Mini Moo package, it says UHT-Processed which stands for Ultra High/Heat Temperature which is used for dairy products to withstand a shelf life of 6-9 months without being opened. Overall, I don’t feel these products are healthy choices by any means.

My experiment with Nestlé Natural Vanilla Creamer

A few years ago (before I nixed most dairy out of my life), I drank Nestlé Natural Vanilla Creamer. I was pleased with the ingredients since it’s only cream, milk, sugar, and natural flavor. I could pronounce and was familiar with all of the ingredients except for natural flavor. Why wouldn’t they just label it as vanilla? I wanted to see how I would feel after consuming this product again after being cleansed of dairy. My typical reactions to dairy are: wheezing, asthma, coughing, and over production of mucus buildup in my lungs. After consuming one bottle of Nestlé Natural Vanilla Creamer, I of course had the normal reaction to dairy but I developed eczema on my elbows and back of my arms. I never in my life reacted like that.

I called Nestlé to inquire about their “all natural ingredients”, as I was a little suspicious of such little ingredients mentioned. The Nestlé representative that I spoke to let me know their dairy does come from GMO fed cows, and the sugar they use is also GMO. The “natural flavor” is supposedly derived from vanilla beans.  After all of my questions, she became suspicious and started asking my name and wanted my information so I quickly ended the call. After ¾ of the bottle gone, I threw out the bottle. I cleansed my body and all symptoms cleared.

Dairy Alternatives

When I was posting pictures of different creamers on Instagram, people were shocked to know their creamer wasn’t good for them. Their justification was it’s their one bad thing they do in the morning. Many people boasted they use So Delicious Coconut Creamer which they thought was so much healthier than the other creamers I was posting. But is it a healthier option? Sure you’re omitting the dairy, trans fat factor but you aren’t escaping from the overly processed, sugar packed, carrageenan filled factor. Let’s take a closer look:

So Delicious (Dairy Free) Original Coconut Milk Creamer

The ingredients:

  • Organic coconut milk (water (filtered?), organic coconut cream)
  • Dried cane syrup (could be GMO? Doesn’t specify)
  • Colored with titanium dioxide (earth mineral often used in natural, organic makeup)
  • Dipotassium Phosphate (often used in fertilizers but it’s a food additive)
  • Carrageenan (see above)
  • Guar gum (derived from guar beans – it’s all natural but can be harsh on a weak digestive system; causes gas)

What I deducted is this creamer is a healthier option; BUT the problem lies with long term use of carrageenan and possibly guar gum that could also harm your gut. Organic canned coconut cream / milk mostly contains guar gum so if you have a reaction to canned (BPA free) coconut milk know that it’s most likely not the coconut milk itself but guar gum that you’re reacting to.

Nikki Jencen's Homemade Coconut Coffee Creamer

In short, seek out healthier alternatives when it comes to coffee creamers. Start your day off right by having warm lemon water in the morning, have something to eat then drink coffee with an all natural creamer with only 1-2 ingredients listed. If you tolerate dairy and don’t want to give it up, the best option that I’ve found is Horizon Organic Half and Half, the ingredients are simple and all organic: organic grade A Milk, Organic Grade A Cream. If you stick true to the Paleo diet, omitting dairy is part of your daily life. If you’re missing a good coffee creamer, I suggest a homemade coconut creamer – either using real coconut milk/cream from an actual coconut OR buying it in the canned version (most all contain guar gum) add coconut sugar or raw honey (or you can omit altogether), with a little vanilla extract or beans.

Have fun exploring with new, natural flavors to brighten your morning cup of Joe.

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21 Comments on “The Truth About Coffee Creamers

  1. Meredith

    I developed rosacea from drinking coffee creamer. I knew this had to be the trigger, as others said this was my one bad habit my diet was pretty clean otherwise. It’s been months and several prescriptions later and still trying to get it in remission. I just started a ” paleo like” diet basically I’m eating paleo foods plus beans and oats. After 5 days my skin looks better than it has in months. I’m glad you posted this, I haven’t seen anyone with similar experiences.

    Reply
  2. Jana

    does the coffee creamer need to be refrigerated? My husband doesn’t like “cold” creamer. Any suggestions?

    Thank you!!

    Reply
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  6. Lori

    Do you know anything about Califia Farms almondmilk creamer? I’ve also been struggling with finding a healthy alternative and I cannot find any info or reviews of this. It’s super thick, which concerns me, and has that fake taste.

    Reply
  7. Lori Crist

    I just use 2 % milk and for sweetener I use maple syrup with no additives. I do only drink one cup of coffee a day. I tried honey as my sweetener, but then my coffee tasted too much like honey. With maple syrup (we have our own maple syrup shack) I don’t need to use much at all,maybe a teaspoon or less. It tastes so much better than white sugar. I’ve never cared for sugar substitutes and I buy cane sugar not sugar derived from beets.

    Reply
  8. Dave Burton

    This article is not accurate.

    GMO plants don’t “come with built in Roundup.” None of them do. Rather, the “genetic modification” in most GMO crops is to make them resistant to Roundup, so that Roundup can be used to kill weeds in the field without harming the crop, which is necessary for no-till agriculture. That reduces both cost and soil erosion, which is good for the pocketbook, and good for the environment.

    There is nothing wrong with GMO crops. There is not a speck of evidence that they are harmful in any way. The anti-GMO campaigners are anti-environment and anti-truth.

    Reply
    1. Concerned Consumer

      There has not been enough research done to say conclusively that there is no harm in GMO foods. I, for one, rather have my food nature’s way and not some lab project that may have the same components as the natural food but are anything but natural. I don’t know why GMO proponents find that so hard to grasp.

      Reply
    2. Joe

      Sorry, I just need to get this out first: Lecithin is not a preservative.

      I agree with Dave. There has been recently such a “scare” about GMO — so many products we buy every day have been “genetically modified” and there is no reason to fear this. In fact, each of us as humans has been genetically modified by our parents to be who we are. In some cases, you end up with a debilitating disease because of those genes, and in some cases you gain a benefit. GMO crops have been designed for our benefit. I am a proponent of labeling all food products as GMO or not, so consumers can decide for themselves. But I have no reservations myself for choosing GMO. If you really want to make a better choice, I would recommend buying and growing organic. I do believe we do not need added chemicals, such as pesticides fouling our environment.

      Reply
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  11. Barbara

    I’ve been using the organic Horizon Organic Lactose free Half and Half…but, I keep thinking I ought to get rid of that dairy (I also drink on cup of coffee in the morning, after my warm lemon water, I use an organic raw honey, and it doesn’t have a honey taste at all…anyway…I just saw an ad for Nutpods, and here are the ingredients below some info from Nutpods:

    nutpods does NOT contain any of the following:

    Soy
    Carrageenan
    Sodium caseinate (a milk protein),
    Mono and di-glycerides
    Artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
    Partially hydrogenated oils or corn syrup
    Sweeteners, sugars or sugar alcohols

    We are proud to be free of these ingredients so you can be free to enjoy your coffee!

    Ingredients

    Purified Water, Coconut Cream, Almonds, Acacia Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Dipotassium Phosphate, Gellan Gum, Sea Salt

    It looks from my reading that the dipotassium phosphate is questionable, also the gellan gum. Argh. What do you think about this one, Nikki? I haven’t tried it yet….

    Reply
  12. Kelli

    How do you get it to blend creamy? I tried putting it in a blender, but all I got left with is lumpy gross creamer that doesn’t resemble creamer at all. It tastes good though

    Reply
  13. Paula Hakes

    I also had problems with lumps. Used immersion blender-worked fine. BUT, once put in coffee it doesn’t taste like anything–can’t taste anything coconutty. Any advice?

    Reply
    1. Shirley

      Hi

      I don’t care for this at all ended up using it to make a sauce for a stir fry to get rid of it

      I put 34 cup organic virgin coconut oil in a mason jar add raw honey cinnamon and if you want cocoa powder and a vanilla bean . Mix well now while this does NOT turn my coffee that white cream color it does taste good and gives me that coconut cinnamon taste .. god bless

      Reply
  14. Michelle

    Thanks so much for this recipe. I’m not about to use anything that comes in a can, due to aluminum poisoning. Can I use coconut milk in the carton?

    Reply
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  16. Bridget Booth

    I want to go back to Paleo but giving up my half and half is a stumbling block. I’ve seen paleo Creamer’s but they all seem to be flavored and or sweetened. I don’t want my coffee to taste like vanilla, coconut, almonds or hazelnut. I want it to taste like cream and not be sweet either.
    Is organic half and half what I’ll have to do? I’m not bothered by dairy as far as I know but was hoping to at least do 30 days without I.

    Reply

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