I’ve talked about misleading food labels before, most recently with whole grains, but when it comes to misleading labeling, creamers are in a class by themselves.
Consider powdered creamers, and to use a specific example, how about Nestle Original Coffee-mate powder? With only 10 calories and 0.5 grams of saturated fat per serving, that doesn’t sound bad at all. With such piddling amounts, there’s no need to even worry about the calories or fat in creamer, right?
Unfortunately, there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always?) Companies are allowed to use a little technique called “rounding” on their labels.
So how does that affect the Coffee-mate powder? Well, one teaspoon actually has 14.83 calories, and they round it down to 10. And one teaspoon actually has 0.99 grams of saturated fat, and they round it down to 0.5 grams.
Isn’t that interesting? They obviously didn’t go to the same schools you and I attended, where our math teachers taught us to round anything under 5 down, and anything OVER 5 should be rounded UP. Nope, instead of 14.83 calories being 15 calories, they made it 10. And somehow 0.99 became 0.5.
Don’t you wish you could use that kind of creative math with your checkbook? Oh, I didn’t really spend $14.83, it was only $10. And even better, I didn’t spend $99, why no, it was only $5! Wow, is that a help to the budget, or what!?
Well, what that would do to your checking account is about the same thing their creative rounding does to your diet. Bad news!
To make it worse, consider the serving size. Did you notice I said one TEASPOON? And that doesn’t mean you can dip your spoon in the creamer and come up with a heaping pile on your spoon. That means a leveled off teaspoon and that’s not very much.
As unscientific as my test may be, I went into the kitchen and got a heaping teaspoon of baking powder (didn’t have any creamer in the house) and then measured how many level teaspoons I got from that pile of powder. Would you believe I managed to get FIVE?
Now even if we use a less generous heap of powder and say there are only FOUR teaspoons in that heap on the spoon, it still means instead of adding 10 calories to your coffee, you’re adding almost 60 calories
And instead of adding 0.5 grams of fat, it’s a whopping 3.96 grams, or as close enough to 4 grams as makes no never mind.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 7% of your daily calorie intake should be saturated fat. For someone who averages about 1,800 calories daily, that would be less than 13 grams of saturated fat.
Drink 3 cups of coffee with powdered creamer and you’ve about used up your entire quota for the day.
Guess those creamers need to be considered when thinking of a healthy diet after all.