November 6, 2014

Powdered Creamer: the bad, the worse and the ugly

Recently on a plane, I requested coffee as the attendant came around. Being from Seattle and Chicago, I’m somewhat of a coffee fiend and when I’m traveling I’ll take what I can get. Recent studies keep touting the health benefits of coffee so I’m drinking it (in moderation) guilt-free these days. But use caution when adding sugar or cream…this is where you can get into trouble. 

She handed me a creamer packet and I glanced at the ingredients.  To my horror, this tiny powder packet contains a bunch of chemicals and products some states are banning due to their known detrimental health effects.  Beware! Let’s break this packet down:

Corn Syrup Solids: dehydrated, concentrated corn syrup

Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil: TRANS FAT!!

Soy Lecithin   something to make it taste creamy and not separate; an emulsifier

Artificial flavor: Artificial flavors can be a variety of generally petroleum-based chemicals that flavor foods.

Sodium Caseinate: a milk protein (caution with dairy allergies)

Dipotassium Phosphate: a protein stabilizer so the product won’t clot up when hot water is added.  This product is also commonly used in fertilizer and can act as a skin, lung and eye irritant. 

Sodium Silicoaluminate:  anti-caking agent and controversial source of dietary aluminum     

Artificial color:  A combination of the seven approved artificial food dyes including Blue 1 and 2, Green 3, Red 40 and 3, Yellow 5 and/or 6.  Food dyes are petroleum based.   

Mono and Diglycerides: Made from soy, cottonseed, sunflower or palm oils, these compounds helps fat blend into water, another emulsifier. Mono and di-glycerides do not qualify as trans-fats since trans-fats are considered “tri-glycerides”. However, these can be a source of hydrogenated fatty acids without the label - tricky! Vegetarians and vegans use caution since mono and diglycerides can be either animal or plant-derived.  It’s very hard to know if not labeled. 

            All that being said, I drank my coffee black. Read your labels carefully, everyone!  

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