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Is Non-Dairy Creamer a Smart Choice for Your Liver?


Although seemingly harmless, find out four good reasons to skip non-dairy creamer when preparing your coffee.

Over the past few years there have been an increasing amount of well constructed studies indicating that drinking coffee helps support liver health. However, black coffee (or as close to black as possible) seems to be a prerequisite for this popular drink’s healthfulness. Many believe that non-dairy creamers offer a route for lightening coffee without detracting from its liver benefits; however investigation of non-dairy creamers reveals an unsavory side.

Containing real dehydrated cream and sugar, powdered coffee creamers were first born in the 1950s. Designed to be a convenient, non-perishable source of cream for coffee, these creamers eventually replaced cream with ingredients like processed vegetables oils, stabilizers, chemical sweeteners and other additives that were less expensive and more easily dissolved in coffee.

4 Facts About Non-Dairy Creamers

Available in both powdered and liquid forms, non-dairy creamers are popular because they are reasonably priced, come in many appealing flavors and typically keep longer than milk or cream. While adding non-dairy creamer to your coffee is not the worst liver health offender, it certainly strays from the concept of being good for you.

  1. Not Dairy Free – Non-dairy creamers are not necessarily okay for those who must avoid dairy. While many non-dairy creamers contain no lactose (the sugar found in milk that is hard to digest for certain individuals), they often contain casein. Used to impart a milky flavor and texture, casein is a milk protein that can trigger reactions in those with milk allergies.
  2. Chemically Induced Creaminess – The creaminess in a creamer is what most people want when lightening their coffee; however, non-dairy creamers don’t get creaminess from cream. Instead, the creamy look, feel and flavor of non-dairy creamers typically are the result of partially hydrogenated soybean, coconut or palm oils. Hydrogenation is a chemical process that introduces heart and liver damaging trans fats into the body.
  3. Be Wary of Any Sweet Taste – If your non-dairy creamer is flavored or imparts any type of sweet taste to your coffee, consider yourself forewarned. Sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup are frequently found in non-dairy creamers; both of which have been implicated in perpetuating fatty liver disease. Artificial flavors, sucralose and acesulfame potassium are all examples of chemically engineered sweeteners that may be in specially flavored or sugar-free, non-dairy creamers. Unfortunately, these “fake” sweeteners add an additional toxic burden to the liver.
  4. May Negate Coffee’s Liver Benefits – According to a Swiss study published in a 2010 edition of the Journal of Nutrition, non-dairy creamer can prevent the body from absorbing some of the healthy antioxidants in coffee, while adding milk or drinking it black doesn’t have any effect. The researchers found that absorption levels of coffee’s beneficial phenolic acids were nearly 30 percent lower when consumed with non-dairy creamer than when drinking ordinary black coffee or coffee with whole milk. In addition, it took longer for the coffee’s antioxidants to be absorbed (sometimes 222 percent) when lightened with non-dairy creamer compared with black coffee or coffee with milk.

According to registered dietician Emily Creamer, MS, RD, LDN, reading a product’s ingredient list should act as a guide to what is best for your body. Whenever possible, Creamer suggests choosing foods that are closest to their natural state, avoiding those with multiple chemical-sounding ingredients. In the case of milk vs. non-dairy creamer, a quick glance of the ingredients makes the most healthful choice obvious.

There are worse things for your liver than lightening your coffee with non-dairy creamer. However, those drinking coffee for its liver health benefits are advised to restrict their non-dairy creamer usage. Especially because research shows that non-dairy creamer interferes with coffee’s absorption of healthful antioxidants, take your morning cup black or use all natural milk to lighten it up. By minimizing the chemicals your body must break down and process, you are helping ease the workload, and hence the stress placed on your liver., 7 Things you need to know about non-dairy creamer, Retrieved July 5, 2013, MediResource Inc., 2013.,  High Fructose Corn Syrup Promotes Obesity and Liver Damage, Elizabeth Renter, Retrieved July 5, 2013, Natural Society, 2013., What is Nondairy Creamer?, Roxanne Weber, Retrieved July 5, 2013, CBS Interactive Inc, 2013., Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Retrieved July 5, 2013, INRFood, Inc., 2013., Your Weight-Loss Solution: Avoid Nondairy Coffee Creamers., James Beckerman, MD, Retrieved July 5, 2013,, 2013., Powdered coffee ‘creamer’ isn’t food, it’s processed chemicals, Ethan A. Huff, Natural News Network, 2013., Nondairy Creamer, But Not Milk, Delays the Apperance of Coffee Phenolic Acid Equivalents in Human Plasma, Renouf M, et al, Retrieved July 5, 2013, The Journal of Nutrition, February 2010. Nondairy Creamer Can Make Coffee Less Heart-Healthy, Emily Main, Retrieved July 5, 2013, Rodale, 2013., High Fructose Corn Syrup Linked to Liver Scarring, Research Suggests, Retrieved July 5, 2013, ScienceDaily LLC, 2013.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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