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How Your Coffee Creamer is Making You Fat

Let's get one thing straight: in and of itself, coffee is the Mack Daddy of beverages.

Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from any other source. It's been shown to help control symptoms of Parkinson's disease, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, prevent liver disease, and delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Did we mention that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing depression?

There are so many reasons to drink coffee, but could your daily cup of caffeinated awesome be making you fat?

Yes, but it's not the coffee that's to blame. Coffee has 1 calorie per 8-ounce cup. Here at Eat This, Not That!, we're more worried about what you put into it: flavored creamers.

Not That! Flavored Creamers

For example, let's look at International Delight French Vanilla Creamer. Not only is it completely devoid of dairy (with a base of water, sugar, soybean oil and corn syrup), it contains trans fats that have been linked to coronary disease and metabolic syndrome, and carrageenan, a stabilizer linked to inflammation in the body. The even worse news: one serving is considered one tablespoon. An average unmeasured pour equals four times that amount.

So, what you think of as 35 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 6 grams of sugar is actually 140 calories, 6 grams of fat and 24 grams of sugar. Add a second cup, and you've already exceeded the maximum recommended daily sugar intake of 40 grams.

That single cup of coffee with 1/4 cup of creamer equals on additional 15 pounds a year on your derriere.

This doesn't mean you need to go cold turkey and avoid java completely.

Eat This! All-Natural Substitutes

A splash of milk is the perfect creamer—the calcium in it can help counter the calcium-robbing aspects of the caffeine, and it's a great way to get vitamins A, D and B12, which are vital for bone health. (Go for 1% or 2%; skim milk is great for calorie control, but vitamins A and D are fat soluble, so you need a bit of fat to reap the nutritional benefits.)

Or, if creamer is a must, try making your own, sans trans fats and ingredients you can't pronounce: Mix one can of condensed milk with a cup of low-fat milk, add a natural liquid sweetener like agave, maple syrup or honey to taste, and a teaspoon of flavored extracts like vanilla or almond. The final product is healthier and cheaper, and will help extend your shelf life.

Eat This, Not That!
Inspired by The New York Times best-selling book series, Eat This, Not That! is a brand that's comprised of an award-winning team of journalists and board-certified experts, doctors, nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers, and dietitians who work together to bring you accurate, timely, informative, and actionable content on food, nutrition, dieting, weight loss, health, wellness, and more. Read more about Eat This