Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cream vs. Non-Dairy Creamer

I must confess that I love coffee…the stronger the better…with whole milk (real milk, not non-dairy creamer.) Let’s see how these non-dairy alternatives measure up to the real deal.

So what is cream? Simple…it’s the butterfat layer that comes with real milk. That’s it…just butterfat. It’s about 64% saturated fat and has about 6g of fat per tablespoon, an amount I’d assume is sufficient for a mug of coffee.

Now what about the leader of the pack when it comes to flavoring coffee? Let’s look at the ingredient list for Coffee Mate Original, a variety of non-dairy creamer found in more than a couple household kitchens. “Corn syrup solids, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut, palm kernel or hydrogenated soybean), sodium caseinate (a milk derivative but not a source of lactose), Dipotassium phosphate, mono- and digycerides, artificial flavor and annatto color.”

Okay, so we start off with corn syrup solids, which is corn syrup liquid dehydrated of most of its water. Next up is our good buddy, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (aka trans fats.) Here’s what I find mind boggling; coconut and palm kernel oils are both highly saturated, making them already stable at room temperature. Why is there a need to hydrogenate these oils? Then we have sodium casienate, which is marked as a milk derivative. Wow! How in the world is a product derived from milk considered “non-dairy”....hmmm? Regardless, it’s added to give a thicker creamier texture to the aforementioned sugar and trans fats. The dipotassium phosphate (or phosporic acid) and mono- and diglycerides basically serve to improve mouth feel, keeping ingredients together that normally don’t go together. Essentially, when you choose Coffee Mate in your coffee, you are basically pouring in sweetened trans fats.

Your best option: Ditch the Coffee Mate and go with full-fat cream or milk if you can’t stomach black coffee.

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