The Shocking Truth: What's Hiding in Non-dairy Creamer
While many people drink their coffee black, others wouldn't dream of enjoying their morning cup of joe without the addition of milk or creamer of some sort. Back in the day, adding milk/cream used to be just a splash of raw goodness derived from a dairy cow.
More recently, the production of plant-based, non-dairy milks has skyrocketed. Why? Over time people began limiting their dairy intake; digestive issues from dairy were increasing and the many undesired additives and hormones in milk were revealed. What are the health costs associated with this push towards more plant-based products which are highly-processed alternatives to milk and creamers?
What to avoid:
Many people do not understand that a plethora of harmful chemicals and additives are hiding inside dairy alternatives. Here are some of the top culprits to look out for if you purchase these products: (see recipe below to make your own healthier option!)
- Carrageenan: This is used commonly as a thickening agent, and is an ingredient that should be avoided. Research in animals indicates that it can cause gut tumors and ulcers, and may even trigger colon cancer. In smaller doses, it is a gut irritant. Because of the potential risks, few studies have investigated the possible effects in humans.
- Gums: Gums such as guar and xanthan are food additives typically used to bind, stabilize, or texturize processed foods such as nut milks. Gums may trigger allergic reactions in some people, and have been linked to digestive problems (gas, bloating) in small amounts, as well as intestinal obstruction in larger intake.
- Harmful oils: Many dairy alternatives use highly processed vegetable oils such as canola, soybean and sunflower oils, which are all high in omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids can be extremely inflammatory to the body, especially when not balanced with the more anti-inflammatory omega-3's. Most Americans consume a much higher amount of omega-6 than omega-3 rich foods. Thus, the resulting higher levels of inflammation from vegetable oils increase risk of and exacerbate many inflammatory diseases such as CVD, diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and IBD.
- Sugar: Many milk/cream alternatives add in sugars or other sweeteners to attempt to make their products taste less like beans or nuts and more like real milk! Sugar increases inflammation in the body, and increases the risk of high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease, as well as a heightened risk for heart attack and stroke. When in doubt, please choose a milk without added sugars.
- Added Natural (or Artificial) Flavorings: You may have seen the term "natural flavors" on ingredient lists. These are flavoring agents that food manufacturers add to their products to enhance the taste. However, this term is highly unregulated by the FDA ,and thus, can be pretty confusing and even misleading. Natural flavors are added to many packaged foods and often come from GMO sources, which do not have to be disclosed on the label. These additives can be problematic for those with food sensitivities and allergies, and may cause adverse reactions.
While plant-based dairy alternatives are found in abundance in the market, you really must do your homework when researching them. When looking for a healthful dairy substitute, try to avoid the above harmful ingredients. Options for a better cup of coffee include: learning to love your Cardiology Coffee black (thus avoiding any creamer issues), use full-fat raw or organic dairy if you tolerate it, or try making your own raw nut milk at home as a great option that's fun to do as a family!
To make your own healthier nut milk, follow this simple recipe:
- 2 cups (280 grams) of soaked raw nuts (raw almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.)
- 4 cups (1 liter) of water (make sure you're using purified water. We recommend the Pristine Hydro
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vanilla extract (optional)
Soak the raw nuts in water overnight. Drain before use. Add the nuts, fresh water, and organic vanilla, if using, to a high speed blender (we love the Vitamix) and pulse for 1–2 minutes, until the water is cloudy and the nuts finely ground.
Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer that is placed over a bowl and lined with a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Gently press bag to extract as much milk as possible. You should end up with approximately 4 cups of nut milk.
Place the liquid in an airtight container and store in your refrigerator for up to 5 days. Enjoy!
This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our affiliate policy.