Used as a substitute for milk or cream, nondairy creamer lends a rich texture and flavor to a cup of coffee or tea. For people who can't or don't want to eat dairy foods, nondairy creamer offers an alternative, but it also comes with some drawbacks, most notably the inclusion of partially hydrogenated oils in many of the brands and flavors. Getting all the nutritional facts about nondairy creamer will help you decide if you want to continue using it or look for a healthier alternative.
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Calories and Fat
The number of calories and amount of fat that nondairy creamer contains depends on flavor and type, which includes liquid and powder. A tablespoon of liquid plain nondairy creamer contains between 15 and 20 calories and contains about 1 gram of fat. A tablespoon of flavored liquid nondairy creamer can range between 20 and 35 calories and can contain as much as 3 grams of fat. A teaspoon of plain nondairy cream powder contains about 10 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. Flavored nondairy cream powders contain between 10 and 20 calories per teaspoon and can have up to 1 gram of fat per teaspoon.
Sugar Isn't So Sweet
Plain nondairy creamer in liquid or powder form contains less than 1 gram of sugar per serving. Flavored varieties, however, can be significantly higher in sugar content. A tablespoon of liquid flavored nondairy creamers, such as hazelnut, French vanilla, amaretto or caramel, contain an average of about 5 grams of sugar, which is 1.25 teaspoons of sugar. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended daily upper limit of added sugar is 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Sticking to these limits can help reduce the risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes. That small amount of nondairy creamer contributes quite a bit of sugar toward these limits. Powdered nondairy creamer can have up to 7 grams of sugar per serving.
Lack of Nutrients
Nondairy creamer doesn't supply essential vitamins and minerals. A serving of either liquid or powdered nondairy creamer doesn't supply any calcium, iron, vitamin C or vitamin A. This means that when you use the product, you're only adding extra calories and, in the case of flavored varieties, sugar to your diet without getting anything in return. On the plus side, however, nondairy creamer is low in sodium.
Considering Nondairy Creamer in Your Diet
The primary consideration you need to make regarding nondairy creamer is that many brands and flavors contain partially hydrogenated oils, which are code words for trans fat. Trans fats are dangerous because they raise your bad cholesterol level, which puts you at a higher risk for heart disease, the American Heart Association reports. Eating trans fats can also raise your risk of type-2 diabetes. If you must have nondairy creamer, read ingredient labels to find varieties that don't contain partially hydrogenated oils. You might also look for reduced-fat, fat-free or sugar-free versions to improve the nutritional value of the product a small amount.