Here’s What’s in That Coffee Creamer You’re About To Grab — And Why You Might Want To Put It Down

It might be time to take your cup of joe black.

We’re drinking way more coffee than ever before. In fact: Over 62 percent of Americans drink coffee every. single. day. And those of us who do drink coffee are averaging three cups a day. That’s up five percent from five years ago, according to the National Coffee Association

And while the health benefits of drinking coffee are constantly being measured — research says it can help burn fat, boost energy levels, and lower the risk of type two diabetes — that doesn’t always account for the added coffee creamers were pumping into it. 

“Many coffee creamers out there are made of junk dairy from conventional cows that have been pumped full of antibiotics, which is then added to artificial flavorings, inflammatory oils, and sweeteners. You absolutely want to avoid this,” says Dr. Hyman, author of Pegan Diet. “It’s the worst way to start your day and sets you up for a blood sugar roller coaster, cravings, weight gain, and mood swings.” 

So, while it may seem like an innocent addition to an otherwise healthy morning beverage, you may want to reconsider which coffee creamers you’re using (if any at all). Below, we’re breaking down the most pressing questions around coffee creamers and providing the most obvious option for a healthier alternative.

What exactly is coffee creamer made with?

That depends. Coffee creamers are mostly made up of water, oils, and sugar. They’re typically free from cream or lactose products, but contain milk-derived proteins, so they’re not necessarily dairy-free.

One of the most popular coffee creamer brands, Coffee mate, is filled with partially hydrogenated oils (yuck!), corn syrup, harmful preservatives, and other refined sugars. Coffee mate doesn’t contain any vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants, so there are no real nutritional benefits to drinking it. And while it might seem like an innocent dollop of coffee creamer won’t do any harm, over time, these chemicals added up are just plain unhealthy to be drinking on a daily basis.

Are sugar-free or fat-free creamers safe?

Not really. They tend to be made of the same stuff, plus additional chemicals from artificial sweeteners. Swapping calories for chemicals? No thanks.

Why are coffee creamers bad for you?

You’ve heard it before: it’s always best to avoid super processed chemicals, oils, and artificial syrups and sweeteners. And, unfortunately, that’s what’s in most coffee creamers on the market. If you turn your coffee creamer around and check out the label, be sure you can pronounce everything that’s listed. Otherwise, put it back on the grocery shelf. Nutritionists always recommend checking the ingredient list on the coffee creamer you use to make sure they don’t contain these harmful ingredients.

What’s the difference between creamer and half-and-half?

The main difference is that half-and-half has milk. It’s made of equal parts heavy whipping cream and milk. Sounds…heavy. But, it’s a lighter alternative to just heavy cream.

What is a healthier alternative to coffee creamer?

“Real full-fat cream from grass-fed cows raised on pasture is a better option when it comes to using dairy in your coffee, but, again, I wouldn’t suggest using it daily due to the general inflammatory nature of cow’s milk,” explains Dr. Hyman. And what about non-dairy creamers, like ones made from oat or almond milks? “Non-dairy creamers are not necessarily better, though, and you still have to be very careful about reading labels.” Maybe it’s time to adjust your palette and try skipping coffee creamers altogether. Especially if you’re one of the coffee addicts averaging multiple cups a day.