Are you interested in finding out what is the best coffee creamer for high cholesterol?
I get it, since coffee is usually the first thing we consume in the morning, it’s important to start the day off in a heart-healthy way!
You may be aware that traditional coffee cream is high in saturated fat. Or maybe you’ve tried black coffee and just can’t do it. You’ve come to the right place.
Whether you are a regular coffee drinker or enjoy a decaf now and then, read on to understand how a small change to your daily coffee habit can add flavour and improve cholesterol levels.
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- Coffee creamers can be high in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars, which are not ideal for individuals with high cholesterol.
- To choose a heart-healthy coffee creamer, look for options that are low in saturated and trans fats, such as unsweetened plain soy milk, skim or 1% dairy milk, Carnation evaporated milk, Nut Pods, or organic soy milk powder. These options provide creaminess without significantly increasing cholesterol levels.
- Avoid coffee creamers like Coffee Mate that contain hydrogenated vegetable oils (trans fats) and added sugars, as they can negatively impact cholesterol levels. Additionally, consider adding flavor to your coffee with spices, extracts, chia seeds, or plant-based protein powder as alternatives to traditional creamers.
- Top Takeaways
- What Are Creamers?
- Why Use Healthy Creamers For Your Coffee?
- What Is High Cholesterol And What Are The Health Risks
- Is Coffee Bad For Your Cholesterol?
- How Do Coffee Creamers Affect Cholesterol?
- What Makes A Heart Healthy Coffee Creamer?
- 5 Best Coffee Creamers For High Cholesterol
- Nutritional Value of Recommended Creamers
- Skip This Creamer for High Cholesterol
- Other Ways To Flavor Coffee
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Other Ways To Lower Cholesterol
- Final Thoughts
What Are Creamers?
Creamers are a type of dairy or non-dairy product used to add flavour and texture to coffee and tea.
There are a lot of options! Creamers are available in liquid, powdered, or single-serve packets, and come in a variety of flavours such as vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut.
Some creamers also contain added sugar and other ingredients to enhance their taste.
Why Use Healthy Creamers For Your Coffee?
Firstly, they can improve the taste of coffee or tea, making it creamier and sweeter, which some people enjoy.
Secondly, creamers can add variety to your drink by offering different flavours, such as vanilla, caramel, or hazelnut, and allow you to customize your beverage to your liking.
Finally, some people may use creamers to replace dairy milk if they have lactose intolerance or are following a vegan diet. Non-dairy creamers made from ingredients such as soy, almond, or coconut milk are widely available and can provide a similar taste and texture to dairy-based creamers.
What Is High Cholesterol And What Are The Health Risks
If you are living with high cholesterol, you are not alone. Approximately 12% of adults in the United States have high blood cholesterol (1).
An excessive amount of cholesterol in the blood occurs when the body produces too much cholesterol or when there is a buildup of cholesterol in the walls of the arteries.
This buildup can lead to the formation of plaques, which can narrow and harden the arteries, making it difficult for blood to flow through. Over time, this can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Cholesterol is useful in the body because it is essential for producing hormones like vitamin D, and bile acids that help with the digestion of fat. However, when there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it can lead to health problems as discussed above.
High cholesterol does not usually cause any symptoms, so it is important to have your cholesterol levels checked regularly by a healthcare professional to understand if your levels are normal or high.
If you have been told by your doctor that you have high cholesterol and are wondering how to manage it with diet, well you’ve come to the right place! Some great articles are 39 Foods to Unclog Arteries, the portfolio diet, and the DASH and Mediterranean diet.
Is Coffee Bad For Your Cholesterol?
There is mixed information on the health effects of black coffee and cholesterol levels. Some smaller studies indicate that drinking large amounts of unfiltered black coffee could increase cholesterol levels. Other studies state that moderate coffee consultation (2-3 cups of coffee per day) can reduce heart disease risk by around 20% (2).
It is also noted that black coffee is full of antioxidants like (3):
Chlorogenic acid: This is one of the most abundant antioxidants in coffee and is thought to be responsible for many of the health benefits associated with coffee consumption, including improved blood sugar metabolism and reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Caffeic acid: This antioxidant has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.
Melanoidins: These compounds are formed during the roasting process and have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Since these antioxidants reduce inflammation and manage blood sugar, black coffee can play a role in cholesterol management and further reduce heart disease risk.
Thus you can have high cholesterol and safely drink coffee.
How Do Coffee Creamers Affect Cholesterol?
Heart healthy coffee creamers can have varying effects on cholesterol depending on their composition.
Some coffee creamers contain high levels of saturated fats and trans fats, which are known to increase LDL cholesterol levels (also known as low-density liopoproteins or the “bad” cholesterol) in the blood.
Some real coffee creamers made with partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats, which have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Trans fats are created by a process called hydrogenation, which involves adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid and stable at room temperature. This process makes the oils more resistant to spoilage and increases their shelf life, which is why they are commonly used in processed foods, including many coffee creamers.
When consumed, trans fats can raise LDL cholesterol levels by decreasing the number of LDL receptors on the liver cells that clear LDL cholesterol from the blood.
This can cause an accumulation of LDL cholesterol in the blood, which can contribute to the formation of fatty deposits in the arteries, a process known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can ultimately lead to heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
In addition to raising LDL cholesterol levels, trans fats have also been shown to decrease HDL (high-density lipoproteins) cholesterol levels, which is the “good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL cholesterol from the blood.
Since trans fat does two things we don’t want – increase LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol – there is no safe amount of trans fat to consume, and it is best to avoid it.
In fact, some countries have banned trans fat completely like Denmark, Switzerland and Austria. Canada and the United States have banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils which is the primary source of trans fats in foods, but has not banned all trans fats.
High fat coffee creamers or dairy products are often high in saturated fat.
When consumed in large amounts, saturated fats are broken down in the liver and turned into cholesterol, which can then be transported throughout the body in the bloodstream.
Saturated fats can increase LDL cholesterol levels by increasing the production of LDL particles in the liver and decreasing the number of LDL receptors on liver cells that clear LDL cholesterol from the blood.
In addition to raising LDL cholesterol levels, saturated fats have also been shown to increase levels of triglycerides, another type of fat in the blood that can contribute to the development of heart disease.
Thus, choosing a low fat coffee creamer can help with managing cholesterol.
Eating too much added sugars can increase triglycerides. When you consume added sugars, your liver converts them into triglycerides, a type of fat that circulates in the blood. When triglyceride levels are high, it can contribute to the development of heart disease.
High intakes of added sugars, especially in the form of fructose, have been shown to increase triglyceride levels in the blood. This is because the liver metabolizes fructose differently than glucose, leading to an increase in triglyceride production.
The American Heart Association now has a guideline for added sugar consumption and suggests no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams of sugar) per day for most men, and 6 teaspoons (24 grams of sugar) per day for most women of added sugar a day.
Currently the average adult is eating 17 teaspoons of sugar a day (4).
Thus choosing a low sugar coffee creamer can help with managing cholesterol.
What Makes A Heart Healthy Coffee Creamer?
Based on the above information, the American Heart Association encourages a reduction of saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars, which can help reduce ones chance of developing heart disease.
Choosing a healthy creamer lower in these nutrients, and rich in unsaturated fats is a useful guideline when choosing the best coffee creamer for high cholesterol.
Plant based creamers like almond or coconut are often marketed as healthier, however, they are also rich in additives to mimic the mouth feel of traditional dairy. Although high in unsaturated fats (or healthy fats), they often have ingredients like sunflower oil which isn’t heart healthy. So be sure to check the ingredient list to ensure heart healthy ingredients are used.
There are no recommendations to date about artificial sweeteners, artificial flavours, or natural flavours in regard to heart health. Thus, this won’t be considered when recommending a heart-healthy creamer.
5 Best Coffee Creamers For High Cholesterol
To make things a little easier on you I’ve pulled together some of the more nutritionally sound heart-healthy creamer options, along with one real coffee creamer that you’ll want to limit. Here are my top picks for the best natural creamer for coffee (from a Registered Dietitian).
If you prefer a non-dairy option, unsweetened soy milk is an excellent choice and makes a great healthy creamer.
There are several milk alternatives available that are low in saturated fat and won’t impact cholesterol levels (i.e. almond, oat and soy milk). I prefer unsweetened soy milk as it is recommended in the Portfolio diet, which is a way of eating that will directly lower cholesterol. A win-win.
2. Skim or 1% Dairy Milk
Milk is a good choice and common coffee addition that can add creaminess and flavor without significantly increasing cholesterol. Low-fat or non-fat milk is a good low-cholesterol coffee creamer option, as it contains little to no saturated fat, and thus won’t increase LDL cholesterol levels.
Carnation evaporated milk contains about 60% less fat than regular cream, which can help reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet and lower your overall cholesterol levels.
This Carnation evaporated milk is a healthy creamer for your coffee since you can add a creamy texture and rich flavor to your coffee without added sugar.
4. Nut Pods
Nut pods are another non-dairy alternative, if you don’t like soy milk, and can be one of the best low-fat coffee creamers out there. It contains no added sugar and only 1 gram of unsaturated fat.
Like soy milk, using soy milk powder will help you stay on track with the portfolio diet because one serving contains 2 grams of plant protein.
Soy milk powder is a low-cholesterol coffee creamer because it has a clean ingredient list of only soy milk powder, it is shelf stable and won’t expire quickly like other dairy products, it has no added sugars and as a bonus, if you add water to it, it can be used to make soy milk too.
If you don’t like soy milk powder, you can use skim milk powder too. My clients typically consider these two options as the best natural creamers for coffee, as they don’t water down the coffee and provide natural creaminess.
Nutritional Value of Recommended Creamers
|Skim Milk Powder
|Carnation Evaporated Milk
|Soy Milk Powder
|Unsweetened Nut Pods
|Total Fat (g)
|Saturated Fat (g)
Table 1: Nutrient values of recommended creamers based on a serving size of 1 tablespoon (15ml) (5)
Note: Nutrient values may vary slightly depending on brand and other factors. This table is meant to serve as a general comparison.
Skip This Creamer for High Cholesterol
Traditional Coffee Mate describes itself as 2x richer than milk, and a non dairy creamer that is cholesterol free.
Sounds like it should be a good creamer to lower cholesterol, but it also has hydrogenated vegetable oil (which is a trans fat), and the first ingredient is added sugar. It also isn’t a good source of calcium or Vitamin D like the other suggestions above.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, if a food product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, the manufacturer is allowed to list the trans fat content as 0 grams on the Nutrition Facts panel.
This is because the amount of trans fat is considered to be “insignificant” and not likely to have a negative impact on health. However, it’s important to note that even small amounts of trans fats can contribute to health problems over time. It’s still a good idea to check the ingredient list for partially hydrogenated oils, which are sources of trans fats.
If partially hydrogenated oils are listed (like in this product) and the trans fat content is listed as 0 grams, it’s best to choose a different product that does not contain trans fats for optimal heart health (6).
Other Ways To Flavor Coffee
- add spices like cinnamon, turmeric, or pumpkin spice to the coffee grounds before you brew the coffee and stir after for added antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering properties
- try extracts like vanilla or almond for taste without adding fat (think French vanilla flavour!)
- add chia seeds for extra fibre like in this chia seed coffee recipe
- add plant-based protein powder like pea protein and hemp protein
Frequently Asked Questions
What Coffee Creamer Is OK for High Cholesterol?
The coffee creamer that is OK for high cholesterol, should be low in added sugar, saturated, and trans fats, as these types of fats can increase LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels in the blood.
Be wary of some low fat coffee creamers are specifically marketed as low in fat and cholesterol and thus seem “heart-healthy” with words like “cholesterol-free.” These types of creamers may be low in cholesterol but high in saturated fats, trans fats, and added sugars which are worse for cholesterol levels than consuming dietary cholesterol.
Is Coffee Mate Creamer Bad For High Cholesterol?
Coffee Mate is bad for high cholesterol, as some varieties contain high amounts of saturated fat and or trans fats, and some have added sugar. These nutrients should be minimized on a diet to lower cholesterol levels.
Is Coconut Creamer Good For You?
Coconut creamer is marketed as good for you because it comes from a plant-based milk. However, some coconut creamers can be high in added sugar, or high in saturated fat which can increase cholesterol levels.
What Can I Put In My Coffee If I Have High Cholesterol?
Things you can put in your coffee if you have high cholesterol are skim or low fat milk, soy milk, nut pods, and carnation evaporated milk.
Other Ways To Lower Cholesterol
Other than food, you can try these other ways to manage cholesterol levels
- physical activity
- stress management
- taking medications on time
- quit smoking
- stop or reduce alcohol consumption
I hope you found this post helpful to find the best coffee creamer for high cholesterol.
Remember it’s all about what you get used to. For example, if you are currently drinking half and half, move to whole milk. It’s not as low fat in fat as 1% milk, but it provides significant creaminess in comparison to low fat milk, and is an improvement over both typical cream and processed creamers.
From there you can move from whole milk to 1% milk an even healthier creamer. Little changes really add up, so don’t be afraid to start small.
Comment below to tell me what you think about these heart healthy creamers.