Take Coffee Mate powdered creamer or “whitener,” for instance. Corn syrup solids and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are the first and second ingredients, respectively. These ingredients recreate the mouthfeel of cream, but may be very bad for you. Corn syrup has been questioned as a source of sugar that your body doesn’t necessarily metabolize well, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil contains trans fats, which can raise your “bad” cholesterol.
Adding a shot of caramel syrup to your latte may: just one ounce of Torani caramel syrup contains 19 grams of sugar and 80 calories. At Starbucks, a Grande latte gets 4 pumps of syrup – which is approximately one ounce – and a Trenta contains 7!
These sugar substitutes may not be so sweet for your health: although each have been exposed to plenty of studies, there’s no consensus on just how okay or bad for you they are. If you’d rather be safe than sorry, you may want to opt out of artificial sweeteners that have been shown in studies to potentially decrease fertility and increase weight.
“When you order a specialty drink like a Frappuccino, what question do you always hear? ‘Would you like whipped cream on that?’ Just say no,” says Dr. Deepa Verma of Synergistiq Integrative Haelth. “Whipped cream is possibly one of the unhealthiest food items out there, up on the list next to sugary sodas, microwaveable popcorn, and charred meats. The kind of whipped cream that comes from a can has no nutritional value and is loaded with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. The cans are also filled with nitrous oxide which can affect cognition and vision and motor skills.”
“Whole milk, in my opinion, is healthier than skim,” says surgical oncologist Dr. Dmitri Alden. “The reasons behind this are related to fat and sugar content. Skim milk retains all the sugar, 12.3g per cup, and beverages with high sugar content are known to contribute to obesity.”
“Don't load your coffee with sugar. Sugar is perhaps the worst ingredient in our diets today, accountable for a range of medical problems from diabetes to heart disease to obesity to ADD,” says Dr. Deepa Verma of Synergistiq Integrative Health.
Trendy doesn’t necessarily mean great for you: especially if you’re not following a particular diet (such as one that cuts out refined sugar and empty carbs), throwing a chunk of butter into your coffee may not do you as much good health-wise as followers of the Paleo plan may think.
The refrigerated section isn’t any better than the coffee aisle when it comes to those flavored creamers. Packed with sugar, palm oil, and corn syrup, refrigerated creamers like International Delight may be easier on the tummy for those who are lactose intolerant, but those ingredients are not ideal for your diet.