An 8-oz. cup of coffee contains around only two calories and no fat. But according to MayoClinic.com, there's a way to make your morning java unhealthy -- by heaping on the cream and sugar. Nondairy creamer contains fat, a nutrient that you want to limit if you're trying to keep your cholesterol in check or simply if you're watching your weight. Before you dress up your coffee, read nutrition labels carefully to see how much saturated fat your creamer contains -- and keep an eye on serving size, too.
Cholesterol and Food
Cholesterol in itself isn't necessarily unhealthy, says the American Heart Association, or AHA. Your body produces 75 percent of your blood cholesterol -- the rest you get from the food you eat. Too much low-density lipoprotein or "bad" cholesterol in your blood is associated with a greater risk for heart attack and stroke. If you're keeping an eye on your cholesterol levels, minimizing your intake of fat and dietary cholesterol is essential. Dietary cholesterol comes from animal foods, such as milk, butter, meat and eggs. Nondairy creamer, a nondairy product, contains no dietary cholesterol; however, it does contain fat. The AHA indicates that too much saturated fat in your diet -- along with trans fats and dietary cholesterol -- can elevate your cholesterol levels.
Non-Dairy Creamer Basics
One tablespoon of name-brand liquid nondairy creamer makes up one serving. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the serving size on the nutrition facts label should be your starting point. One serving of regular, unflavored non-dairy creamer has 20 calories, 10 of which come from fat. A serving of liquid creamer has 1 g of saturated fat. Nondairy creamer is not a good source of dietary fiber or other essential nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, calcium and iron.
Flavored Nondairy Creamers
Flavored nondairy creamers are higher in both calories and fat, making them the least desirable choice when you head to the coffee bar. A tablespoon of French vanilla, hazelnut or amaretto flavored liquid has 35 calories, 15 of which come from fat. Flavored creamers have 1.5 g of saturated and trans fat per serving. The fat-free equivalents of these flavored creamers cut calories down to 25 per serving.
A tablespoon of low-fat nondairy creamer has fewer calories than regular or flavored varieties, and half the fat of that found in regular non-dairy liquid creamers. One tablespoon has 10 calories, five of which come from fat. This serving has .5 g. fat, all of which is saturated. The fat-free, unflavored equivalent, on the other hand, has 10 calories per serving but no fat at all, making it the healthiest choice if you're concerned about cholesterol or keeping your weight in check.
Fat and Cholesterol Limitations
The best way to determine if nondairy creamers contribute to your blood cholesterol is to take a look at the bigger picture: the amount of dietary fat the AHA suggests as an upper limit. Restrict total fat to less than 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories, and limit saturated fat to less than 7 percent of your calorie intake. A physically inactive adult female who eats a 2,000-calorie diet should get less than 16 g saturated fat, says the AHA. Three cups of coffee with double the serving size of flavored, nondairy creamer can easily give more than half of your daily allowance for fat -- as well as more than 100 extra calories.