What is considered the healthiest coffee creamer?

Quick Summary

When choosing a healthy coffee creamer, there are a few key things to consider:

  • Avoid creamers with hydrogenated oils, corn syrup solids, and other additives
  • Look for creamers made with healthy fats like coconut milk, heavy cream, or half and half
  • Stick to unsweetened or lightly sweetened options without added sugar
  • Pay attention to calorie and fat content

Some of the healthiest options include heavy whipping cream, full fat coconut milk, half and half, unsweetened nut milks (almond, oat, etc.), and dairy-free creamers made with healthy oils like avocado oil or coconut oil. Ultimately, heavy cream and half and half provide the most natural, minimally processed options.

What Makes a Healthy Coffee Creamer?

When evaluating the healthiness of coffee creamers, there are a few key factors to consider:


The ingredients list provides important insights into how processed and healthy a coffee creamer is. Some ingredients to avoid include:

  • Hydrogenated oils: Hydrogenation is a process that turns healthy oils into solid trans fats, which are linked to heart disease and inflammation.
  • High fructose corn syrup: This highly processed sweetener spikes blood sugar rapidly.
  • Corn syrup solids: Another nutrient-poor processed sweetener.
  • Vegetable oils: Highly refined oils like canola, soybean, and vegetable oil are often inflammatory.
  • Carrageenan: An additive derived from seaweed that may cause digestive issues.
  • Artificial flavors and colors: Made from synthetic chemicals, best avoided.

Focus on creamers with a short, recognizable ingredients list, ideally containing just dairy or plant-based milk plus natural flavors like vanilla or cocoa.

Calories and Fat

Coffee creamers range widely in their calorie and fat content. Some are far more concentrated sources of calories than others:

Creamer Calories per Tablespoon Fat Grams per Tablespoon
Heavy cream 51 5.5g
Half and half 20 2g
Whole milk 17 0.6g
Skim milk 9 0g
Non-dairy creamer 25-40 2-3g

Heavy cream provides a rich mouthfeel and creamy texture with minimal water content. But with 50 calories and 5 grams of fat per tablespoon, just a small amount provides plenty of richness. Half and half offers a lighter option at 20 calories per tablespoon.

On the other end, “non-dairy creamers” are formulated to have a creamy texture while keeping calories and fat low. However, they often rely on thickeners and stabilizers to do so.

When choosing a healthy coffee creamer, aim for one that provides richness and creamy texture primarily from natural fats rather than artificial thickeners. But keep portion size in mind, limiting calories and fat as desired.

Sugar Content

Many coffee creamers – especially flavored varieties – are loaded with added sugars.

Creamer Grams of Sugar per Serving
French vanilla non-dairy creamer 12g
Hazelnut creamer 9g
Caramel macchiato creamer 7g
Flavored non-dairy creamer 3-5g
Unsweetened dairy or non-dairy creamer 0g

Added sugar provides empty calories without nutrition. It’s best to choose unsweetened creamers and sweeten your coffee minimally with honey, maple syrup, or stevia to control sugar content.

The Healthiest Coffee Creamer Options

Based on their wholesome ingredients, moderate calorie and fat content, and lack of added sugar, here are some of the healthiest coffee creamers:

Heavy Cream

Heavy whipping cream consists of the high-fat layer skimmed off the top of milk before homogenization. It’s about 40% butterfat.


  • Natural source of dairy fat with no thickeners or additives
  • Contains healthy saturated fats and cholesterol
  • Small amounts provide richness without excess calories
  • Minimally processed


  • Higher in calories and fat than lighter dairy options
  • Not suitable for vegans or those avoiding dairy

Half and Half

Half and half is a blend of half whole milk and half light cream, containing 10-12% fat.


  • Less dense calorie and fat source compared to heavy cream
  • Still provides creamy texture
  • Minimal ingredients


  • Higher in calories than milk
  • Contains lactose, unlike pure cream

Full Fat Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is made by blending water with coconut meat. Choose full-fat, not “light.”


  • Plant-based, vegan option
  • Rich in healthy fats like MCTs
  • Low carbohydrate
  • Dairy-free and lactose-free


  • Strong coconut flavor not preferred by some
  • moderate in calories like dairy cream

Unsweetened Nut Milks

Nut milks like almond and cashew can make healthy creamer alternatives. Opt for unsweetened.


  • Non-dairy and vegan
  • No added sugar
  • Low in calories when unsweetened
  • Simple ingredients


  • Typically thinner, less creamy texture
  • May separate when heated
  • Allergies or sensitivities possible for some nuts

Dairy-Free Creamers Made with Healthy Oils

Some dairy-free creamers are formulated using avocado oil, coconut oil, or olive oil.


  • Vegan and lactose-free
  • Provides creamy texture from healthy fats
  • Usually lower carb


  • Often more processed and with additives compared to simple nut milks
  • Fat content varies widely, check labels

What About Low Fat and Skim Milk?

Full fat dairy is healthier than low fat or skim when it comes to coffee creamers. Here’s why:

  • Removes naturally occurring fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Higher carbohydrate content proportionally
  • Adds unnecessary thickeners and stabilizers
  • Less satisfying creamy texture

The small amount of cream added to coffee won’t significantly affect calories. Better to choose full-fat options.

Avoid Hydrogenated Oils in Non-Dairy Creamers

Check your creamer’s ingredient list carefully. Many contain hydrogenated oils, also listed as “partially hydrogenated.”

These oils are converted to solid trans fats, the most damaging type of fat:

  • Increase LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Decrease HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Raise triglycerides
  • Contribute to heart disease and death

The FDA banned partially hydrogenated oils from foods, but coffee creamers were exempt. It’s still best to avoid them by checking labels.

Watch Out for Added Sugars

Flavored non-dairy creamers in particular can contain alarming amounts of added sugars:

  • Hazelnut – 9g per serving
  • French vanilla – 12g per serving
  • Caramel macchiato – 7g per serving

This extra sugar adds calories without any nutritional benefit. Choose unsweetened varieties instead.

Should You Add Milk or Cream to Coffee?

Coffee on its own contains essentially zero calories. Adding cream or milk does add some calories:

Addition to Coffee Calories
No addition 0
1 tablespoon heavy cream 51
1 tablespoon half and half 20
1 tablespoon whole milk 17
1 tablespoon skim milk 9

However, research shows coffee’s health benefits like lowered diabetes risk are maximized when consuming it with added fats.

For example, adding heavy cream triggers more of coffee’s beneficial antioxidants to be absorbed compared to black coffee or with added sugar or milk.

Therefore, consuming coffee with a healthy natural fat source like heavy cream, coconut milk, or half and half can maximize benefits. Just use a small amount (1-2 tbsp) to minimize calories.

Healthiest Ways to Prepare Coffee

Based on nutrition research, here are some of the healthiest ways to prepare coffee:

Brew Coffee from Ground Beans

Coffee beans contain powerful polyphenol antioxidants. Brewing from fresh coarse-ground beans maximizes preservation of these healthy compounds.

Choose Organic Beans

Organic coffee beans are grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or GMOs. This avoids any potential health effects.

Avoid Sugary Flavored Syrups and Sweeteners

Added sugar provides empty calories without benefits. Opt for low-calorie natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit instead.

Add Grass-Fed Butter or MCT Oil

Adding a pat of grass-fed butter or MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil to coffee provides healthy fats. MCTs boost ketones, mental clarity, and fat burning.

Try Coffee with Collagen Peptides

Adding a scoop of collagen protein powder provides protein for satiety, along with skin and joint supportive collagen.

Top with Heavy Cream, Half and Half, or Coconut Milk

Heavy cream, half and half, and full-fat coconut milk offer healthy fat options to maximize coffee’s benefits.

Health Concerns About Coffee

While associated with several health benefits, coffee may cause issues for some people:

  • Insomnia, anxiety, irritability: Caffeine sensitivity varies between people. Limit coffee before bedtime.
  • Heartburn, upset stomach: The acids in coffee can irritate GERD or ulcers.
  • Headaches: Coffee can trigger migraines in susceptible individuals.
  • Bone loss: Heavy daily coffee consumption may contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Blood pressure: High intake may increase blood pressure in some.

Those with caffeine sensitivity, GERD, anxiety issues, or hypertension should limit coffee intake and stick to 1-2 cups per day maximum.


When it comes to choosing a healthy coffee creamer:

  • Prioritize natural sources of fat like heavy cream and coconut milk over highly processed “non-dairy creamers.”
  • Avoid hydrogenated oils by reading the ingredients list.
  • Keep calories moderate by using 1-2 tbsp per cup only.
  • Sweeten minimally with small amounts of honey or maple syrup if needed.
  • Stick to unsweetened varieties and avoid added sugar when possible.

Following these simple guidelines helps select coffee creamers that provide richness and flavor without the added health risks of many conventional, processed options.

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