Is Coffee Creamer Bad for You?
If you start your day with a piping hot cup of coffee, you're in good company. An estimated 62% of American adults drink at least one cup of coffee each day. Not everyone enjoys the taste of black coffee, so sweeteners and creamers are often added to cut the acidity and make this caffeinated beverage more pleasing to the palate.
Studies tell us that black coffee has some major health benefits including increased focus, more energy for your workouts, and a 5–12% decreased risk of heart disease per cup compared to people who skip this popular morning beverage.
So, does adding creamer to your coffee cancel out these positive effects? Or worse—is it actually bad for you? Here's the scoop on coffee creamer and its effects on your health, according to dietitians.
Most conventional coffee creamers are made with a long list of ingredients including water, sugar, vegetable oil, stabilizers, and flavors. Milk or cream is often added in small amounts, and the bulk of the creaminess comes from oil.
"Many coffee creamers have around four grams of sugar and one and a half grams of saturated fat per serving," says Haley Bishoff, RDN, owner of Rūtsu Nutrition in Las Vegas.
While this isn't an outrageous amount of sugar or fat, keep in mind that one serving is only one tablespoon. If you're adding multiple tablespoons of creamer to multiple cups of coffee per day, it can start to add up. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommends everyone over age 2 limit added sugars to less than 10% of total calories. For a 2,000 calorie diet, you should be aiming for less than 50 grams of sugar in a single day. When it comes to saturated fat, the American Heart Association wants you to keep it under 13 grams per day.
"Coffee creamer can be good alternative to many coffee house drinks that can contain more than a day's worth of sugar and saturated fat," says Sarah Anzlovar, MS, RDN, LDN, intuitive eating dietitian for Moms at Sarah Gold Nutrition.
If you're making your coffee at home most days, a splash of creamer isn't going to make or break a healthy diet. And if adding coffee creamer to your daily cup of joe brings you comfort and happiness, then there's no reason to skip it altogether.
"Enjoyment is an important part of eating and drinking, and allowing satisfying foods and drinks in your diet can support a healthy relationship with food," adds Anzlovar.
Plus, there could actually be a significant benefit to adding creamer to your coffee.
"Coffee creamer that contains some healthy fat can help slow down the absorption of caffeine. This makes it easier on your adrenals and results in more balanced energy," explains Anya Rosen, MS, RD, LD, IFNCP, CPT, functional medicine practitioner and founder of Birchwell Clinic.
Choose a coffee creamer with high-quality ingredients like organic dairy or plant-based milks and creams. Jennifer Fiske, MS, RDN, LD, suggests even mixing your favorite creamer with dairy or plant-based milk and extra seasonings like cinnamon for more creaminess and flavor with less fat and added sugar.