I love a warm cup of creamy, sweet, nutty, roasted dark beverage in the morning. Depending on the season and my mood, I may indulge in a cup of fair-trade, organic coffee, or perhaps a mug of Teeccino Caffeine-Free Herbal Coffee. Sometimes a nice Rooibos chai or Dandelion Root tea will suffice.
But no matter what I’m drinking, I stir in either real cream from grass-fed cows or coconut milk. I haven’t bothered with a flavored creamer in ages.
But guess what? A lot of other people do. They love their flavored creamers. Sadly most are full of genetically-modified corn syrup solids and partially hydrogenated oils (read: TRANS-FATS). Some brands have opted out of the trans-fats bandwagon and replaced the hydrogenated oils with palm or coconut oils. I guess that’s a step in the right direction….
If you love flavored creamers but want an all-natural product free of GMOs, growth hormones, and trans-fats, you may have tried out this week’s product: Good Kind Natural Coffee Creamer French Vanilla.
Good Kind Natural Coffee Creamer is marketed as an all-natural coffee creamer, free of GMOs, rBST, trans-fats, gluten, and artificial flavors. Seriously, what’s not to love?
Here’s what the manufacturer claims:
“We use no artificial flavorings or preservatives, and our milk is certified free of artificial hormones like rBST. Our creamers are made from real milk and cream. We use natural vanilla flavor and organic cane sugar for our vanilla creamers, and to prevent spoilage we use natural forms of Vitamins E and C. That’s our entire ingredients list!”
Good Kind Natural Coffee Creamer: Ingredients
- Non-fat Dried Milk,
- Organic Sugar,
- Cream Powder (Cream, Non-fat Milk Powder, Tocopherols, Ascorbyl Palmitate),
- Natural Flavors.
Good Kind Natural Coffee Creamer: DECODED
All things considered, this product is a step in the right direction. After all, how many shelf-stable foods can claim to be free of GMOs? How many coffee creamers are completely natural or use organic sugar? How many dairy products can advertise themselves as being rBST-free?
So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
In her ground-breaking book, Nourishing Traditions, author Sally Fallon Morell had this to say about Non-fat dried milk :
Commercial dehydration methods oxidize cholesterol in powdered milk, rendering it harmful to the arteries. High temperature drying also creates large quantities of cross-linked proteins and nitrate compounds, which are potent carcinogens, as well as free glutamic acid [MSG] which is toxic to the nervous system (p. 35).
Even Wikipedia has cited studies that demonstrate that powdered milk contains excess oxidized cholesterol, which contributes to the hardening of your arteries:
Commercial milk powders are reported to contain oxysterols (oxidized cholesterol) in higher amounts than in fresh milk (up to 30 μg/g, versus trace amounts in fresh milk). Oxysterols are derivatives of cholesterol that are produced either by free radicals or by enzymes. Certain free radicals-derived oxysterols have been suspected of being initiators of atherosclerotic plaques. (source)
So, even though this product is “natural,” we can all agree that commercially dried milk is simply not a thing found in nature, nor is it good for you. In fact, chances are good it would contribute to the inflammation and hardening of your arteries and accelerate the onset of heart disease!
While I’m happy to see the sugar is organic, meaning it’s GMO-free and better for the environment, it’s still a refined sweetener. But, given that this is a commercially prepared product, I’m not going to count this little tidbit against them. They’re going to great lengths to include an organic ingredient here when they’re not even a certified organic product, so KUDOS to them.
And, you may even be surprised to learn that I’m not upset by the presence of tocopherols or ascorbyl palmitate. Those are just isolated forms of naturally occurring vitamins C & E. While I don’t usually condone isolating nutrients like this, I will give them props for why they chose to do it. According to the manufacturer’s website, these antioxidant-rich vitamins act as preservatives in lieu of other artificial preservatives or synthetic compounds.
But the final ingredient does give me pause: the dreaded natural flavors. It’s so ambiguous! It could be anything. It could be hiding MSG or some other dangerous, but “natural” chemical. Once again, a bit of sleuthing at the product’s website showed me that this is simply natural vanilla flavor.
Before you breathe a sigh of relief, notice that it’s not actual vanilla or vanilla extract. It’s vanilla “flavor.” This is usually made in either a glycerin or propylene glycol base (anti-freeze) and can be derived from all sorts of odd ingredients — anything from wood pulp to the macerated castor sac scent gland of a beaver (I kid you not!). So, while it may be “natural” and taste like vanilla, it isn’t made from vanilla beans!
Good Kind Natural Coffee Creamer: THE VERDICT
So, what should you use instead?
Of course your first option should be to not worry about whether or not the product is shelf-stable and just use real cream from grass-fed cows. Or, for those who seek a non-dairy alternative, use coconut milk.
Alternatively, if you absolutely want a shelf-stable creamer, consider buying powdered coconut milk. The good news is that because coconut milk contains so few proteins and such stable fats, the drying process doesn’t create unusually high amounts of oxidized cholesterol. And, you can use just a spoonful or so at a time instead of having to open up a whole can or tetra-pack at once. All powdered coconut milks will contain trace amounts maltodextrin (a necessary ingredient to keep the oil from separating), but the good kinds will make sure this is GMO-free maltodextrin from a benign and traditional starch like cassava root.
Want Your Labels Decoded?
In this series on Decoding Labels, I’m highlighting deceptive labeling practices, hidden ingredients, and more! If you’ve got a particular label pet-peeve you’d like me to share, please feel free to email me with your idea. It may just turn into a blog post!