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Enemies In Disguise: Coffee "Creamer"

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Enemies In Disguise: Coffee "Creamer"

Let's be honest here. Everyone has their preferences regarding their coffee rituals -- Iced, Hot, Black, Cream, Sugar, etc.

It's easy to see a giant jug of coffee creamer and think to yourself "Oh yummy! Let's give that one a shot".

It tastes pretty good. . . . but is it really good for you? Have you ever looked at the ingredients of your coffee "creamer"?

Before we lay the heat down -- the most important thing to note here is that everyone should be able to make a choice. You choose to put what you want in your body, end of story. Yet if people had more knowledge regarding that 'what' they're putting in their body, they might change their mind about a few things.

Coffee "Creamer"

French Vanilla! Hazelnut! Coconut-Caramel! Toasted Almond! Mocha Sch'mocha Supreme! S'mores! Sweet Gingerbread!

The list seems to get longer by every year. While these coffee flavors may be delicious, they're also adding all sorts of nasty stuff into your coffee too.

Sugar alternatives, preservatives, coagulants (liquid thickening agents), colors and other chemicals.

Here's an ingredient list for a common coffee "creamer".

Water, Sugar, Vegetable Oil (High Oleic Soybean and/or High Oleic Canola), and Less than 2% of Sodium Caseinate (a Milk Derivative),  Mono- and Diglycerides, Dipotassium Phosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Carrageenan.

Some of those sound 'okay' and something we've heard of in nature (i.e. water and sugar) while others sound like something from a lab (take your pick of those on the list). But at the very end of the list, there's an innocent sounding ingredient. Carrageenan. Let's dive into that one for a moment.

This stuff is showing up everywhere... but what is it?

"Carrageenan is a common food additive that is extracted from a red seaweed, Chondrus crispus, which is popularly known as Irish moss. Carrageenan, which has no nutritional value, has been used as a thickener and emulsifier to improve the texture of ice cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, soy milk, and other processed foods.

Image Source -- Andrew Weil M.D

HealthLine-Red also reports on some of the little-known issues regarding carrageenan, especially in regards to its impact on the stomach.

"Dangers and side effects of carrageenan"

"Products with carrageenan may be labeled as “natural,” but limited studies show that carrageenan may promote or cause:

Increased inflammation can lead to a greater likelihood of other diseases, such as:

One review also suggests that there may be no substantial difference between “food-grade” (undegraded) and degraded carrageenan. Degraded carrageenan is a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) version that isn’t approved. It’s even used to induce inflammation in animal studies. According to Cornucopia, test results of food-grade carrageenan carried at least 5 percent degraded carrageenan. One sample had about 25 percent.

But many of the studies conducted on the dangers of carrageenan were on animals and cells. Reports of bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive issues are mostly self-reported. People also report relief when they drop carrageenan from their diet. "

Carrageenan aside, it's even more essential to understand that the more 'artificial' something is, the more likely it's going to contain ingredients & compounds that may not be conducive to a healthy lifestyle. 

Have you looked at coffee 'creamers' that boast it being sugar free? Or fat free?! The ingredients list becomes even worse...and let's not even get started on powdered 'creamer'.

What do I do now?

If your mind has been completely blown -- that's okay. Getting the coffee to taste just exactly how you want shouldn't be rocket-science, or at least a trip to some fancy expensive store.

Using simple syrups with extracts & essences of the flavors you're looking for, coupled with additive-free (natural, or organic),  'milk'-like substances, you'll find that your coffee in the morning will be much yummier, and easier on your body! There are more and more of these natural sweeteners and milk/creamer alternatives out there so give a few a try. 

Just a quick plug for cold brew in case you haven't tried it yet; since cold brew coffee is naturally low in acids than hot brew like drip, single serve or espresso, it has a naturally sweet and smooth flavor. Fans of cold brew often use little to no cream, sugar or other flavors. If you want to skip the label reading to find a creamer that won't cause concern for long-term health effects, give cold brew a try without cream or sugar and go from there!

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