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For most of us, the days don’t start quite the same way without a cup of coffee. Whether it’s in your local café, or percolated and poured into your favorite mug: it’s a ritual. The oat milk generation may be here, but now a smoother, creamier alternative is on the rise: non-dairy creamers.
In fact, it is expected to be worth around $ 7 billion by 2025, according to the global agency, Market and research.
But what are non-dairy creams? Are they vegans – and are they healthy?
Formerly known as tea or coffee whiteners, non-dairy creams date back to the 1950s. Despite their name, however, they are not always suitable for vegans.
What are non-dairy creams made of?
Typically, non-dairy creams are made with corn syrup, vegetable oil, lecithin, sugars, and flavorings. They come in liquid or powder form.
The vegan versions consist of much more nutrient-dense ingredients, from natural sugars to cocoa, nuts, and coconut. The primary ingredients usually include a sweetener such as sucralose or cane sugar.
In coconut creams, coconut milk is pressed and dried before being finely ground into a powder and added to other ingredients. Others include Xantham Gum, a derivative of sugar, which is used as a thickener.
While many consumers infer that dairy-free means plant-based – as is often the case – not all non-dairy creams are in fact vegan.
When the products first appeared, they were designed to replace milk or cream. Plus, they focused on being much lower in calories and fat with a long shelf life.
Non-vegan ingredients to watch out for in non-dairy creams
As a result, some brands of non-dairy creams still use animal products such as casein, a protein found in cow’s milk. It is generally listed as sodium caseinate and used to achieve a white color.
One example is the first icon of non-dairy creamers: Coffee-Mate, owned by Nestlé.
Other non-vegan ingredients include whey, a by-product of cow’s milk.
Although the name is confusing, non-dairy creams that are not vegan can still be labeled dairy-free. This is because there is currently no regulated definition for the term, under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that products containing milk derivatives can be labeled dairy free.
Other ingredients commonly found in non-dairy creams include lecithin, which is a fat found in both eggs and soybeans. However, if lecithin is soy based, it is often listed as such.
Dairy free label
For people with lactose intolerance or allergies, non-dairy creams offered a way to brighten up black coffee. This is aimed at a large portion of the world’s population, especially in many Asian countries where lactose is less commonly consumed in traditional diets.
Additionally, in European countries, lactose intolerance due to low levels of the lactose range of enzymes affects between 15 and 75 percent of the population, according to the British Foundation for Nutrition.
However, to meet the needs of vegans, the market has since grown and a line of non-dairy vegan cream products are now available.
Are non-dairy creams healthy?
Non-dairy creams were invented to replace other dairy products, such as double cream, which can lead to health problems such as cancer and heart disease.
However, that doesn’t necessarily make them better for you, as many contain added sugars.
For example, the high fructose corn syrup often included in non-dairy creams can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
And, the sweeteners used in non-dairy creamers pose questionable health risks.
Many scientific studies have conflicting results as to whether the unsweetened sweeteners (NSS) commonly used in non-dairy creams are beneficial compared to simple sugars, such as fructose and glucose found in fruits.
SNS, also known as artificial sweeteners, are generally sweeter but contain fewer calories. This helps many non-dairy creamers achieve lower calorie content.
A small list of NSSs are currently approved by the FDA, while others are currently declared unsafe.
According to the reading committee British medical journal, the potential harms associated with their consumption are less well known.
However, in a controlled study evaluating various health implications of consuming NSS or simple sugars, the authors found no “significant” difference in body weight. Additionally, self-reported energy levels and risk of developing forms of cancer were found to be similar.
Herbal medicine Dr Michael Greger however, cautions against non-calorie sweeteners.
This is because they can cause people to overeat and gain weight. He explains that this is due to signals sent to the brain when we taste the sweetness. However, due to their low calorie content, we cannot slow down by consuming them the same way we do when tasting simple sugars.
But not all non-dairy plant-based creams contain artificial sweeteners.
For example, Laird Superfood, Inc. offers a range of Superfood Creamers which include cocoa and turmeric.
In a statement sent to PBN, the company said, “Many foods are over-processed and highly manipulated to remove the important natural balance of nutrients that are essential for our bodies to recognize and process them properly.
“You want minimally processed or whole plant-based products to really make a difference. “
The 11 best non-dairy vegan creams
Here are our eleven best non-dairy creams that are suitable for vegans.
1. Laird Superfood
For its additional nutritional benefits, Laird Superfood, Inc. is a leader in non-dairy vegan creams.
The brand claims to be keto-friendly and includes cocoa and turmeric in some of its offerings. Other flavors include chocolate mint and pumpkin spice.
You can buy creamers from Laird Superfood Inc. here
2. The Skinny Food Co.
Boasting zero calories, The Skinny Food Co. offers three Barista-style non-dairy creamers in different flavors. Plus, it claims to be free from fat, sugar, gluten and is suitable for anyone on a Weight Watchers plan.
Flavors include Chai spice, glazed donut, caramel popcorn, and Irish cream.
Find it Skinny Food Co. here
These non-dairy creams promise “puffy clouds” of smooth creaminess. The main ingredients are macadamia milk, sunflower oil and coconut cream.
Additionally, the flavors include vanilla, unsweetened vanilla, cinnamon, chai and unsweetened.
You can buy the creams from Milkadamia here
4. Coconut cloud
Coconut Cloud creamers contain natural flavors and powdered coconut cream. Happy Brain Coffee was created on the principle of nourishing the brain with healthy fats.
These creams have more calories than others on the market, between 40 and 70 per serving depending on the flavor.
Plus, it can be used as an alternative to coconut milk in recipes.
You can shop Coconut Cloud creamers here
NutPods’ cotton candy flavor sets it apart from the rest of the market. Its non-dairy cream contains natural flavors and contains ten calories per serving.
The company’s other creams include nut-free French vanilla, coconut macaroon, and toasted marshmallow.
You can buy NutPods creams here
6. Honest to kindness
Fresh from the market, Honest To Goodness uses “carefully sourced” ingredients from around the world.
They make up the flavors of Himalayan salted caramel and Madagascar vanilla bean, softened by organic cane sugar and natural aromas. Per serving, this cream contains 30 calories.
You can shop the variety pack online here
7. California farms
Better Half from Califia Farms is a creamy combination of coconut and almond and free from “false sweeteners”.
Plus, its unsweetened vegan, vanilla, and pumpkin spice creams contain just 15 calories per serving.
You can shop Better half here
Coffee giant Starbucks has unveiled a line of coffee creamers. However, not all of them are vegans.
Herbal options include Almond Oatmeal Caramel and Hazelnut Latte. They also contain pea protein.
You can buy Starbucks cream here
Silk, the plant-based dairy brand owned by Danone, offers three different creams.
They are Almondmilk, Oat Yeah and Soymilk – and come in a plethora of flavors, including Toasted Hazlenut and Creme Brulee.
Silk also has its Oat Yeah Oat Milk in Cookie One and Vanilla, which is an extra creamy oatmeal cream that promises to ‘froth like a boss’.
You can locate Silk resellers online here
The vegan brand Unicreamer has a small ingredient list of pea protein, MCT oil derived from coconut, and sunflower lecithin.
Its flavors include nutty, mocha, and the unsweetened original – and all claim to be suitable for anyone on a keto diet.
You can shop Unicreamer here
MALK creamers are available in unsweetened oats and almonds and in maple oats + pecans. The ingredients include organic oats and flax seeds, which are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.
You can find a store near you that sells MALK online here