7 Surprising Spices That Support Healthy Hair

If you've been into natural beauty since you tinted your tresses with henna in middle school, you've probably tried everything from avocado masks to skin-smoothing shea butter. It's time to revitalize your easy, breezy routine by adding these seven spices to your hair care regimen.

Black Pepper

Pepper up your tresses by applying this go-to spice, which facilitates the flow of blood and nutrients to your scalp and hair follicles. You'll notice your hair remains healthy and strong even as it grows faster than expected. Just mix a tablespoon of black pepper with about 1/4 cup each black castor and coconut oils (organic if possible). Apply it to your scalp for about 20 minutes, then rinse completely before styling those gorgeous locks.

Chamomile

While you're making your next cup of tea, steep some for your hair to revitalize your roots, soothe itching, and moisturize the scalp and strands. You only need to boil a teaspoon of chamomile flower in 1 cup of water and use it to rinse your hair after your next shampoo and condition.

Cinnamon

You know about the sun's unwanted impact on your skin, but you should also be aware of environmental damage to your hair and scalp. In addition to wearing a hat whenever you have a pool day planned, you can use cinnamon to dial back dryness and damage caused by the sun. Because it increases cell turnover and circulation, it also encourages hair growth. To take advantage of this spicy tip, simply stir some cinnamon (a teaspoon or two) into your oatmeal, cereal or morning beverage of choice. You can also mix it with some olive oil and honey to make a salve that will soothe and exfoliate your scalp.

Cumin

In addition to cooking up an amazing curry, cumin can reduce symptoms of dry scalp, help moisturize your mane, and even prevent damage. To try this tip, slowly stir warm water into powdered cumin until you have a pasty texture. Spread the solution on clean hair and relax for 30 minutes, then wash it out, condition, and do your thing.

Gingko Biloba

Ginkgo makes a great rinse if you want to accelerate hair growth. According to research published in Neuroradiology, this herb works by stimulating blood flow to the scalp. Throw a few cups of dried ginkgo Biloba in a pot of boiling water and steep for a few minutes, then use the resulting mixture as a rinse whenever you wash your hair.

Rosemary

Essential oil made from this herb can help with hair growth. However, don't put the formula directly onto your scalp, which can cause irritation. Instead, add a few drops to your shampoo or mix with a gentle, moisturizing oil like sunflower, coconut and jojoba to make a hair mask. A study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research even showed that the spice can shield against pattern baldness by rejuvenating nerves in the scalp.

Mustard

It's not just a sandwich spread - when massaged into your scalp, mustard oil boosts the health of your hair with fatty acids and antioxidants. It has been also used to help hair growth for generations in India since it's rich in nutritious zinc, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, D and E. In addition, studies suggest mustard oil may help shield the scalp from the sun's damaging UV rays. Finally, you can even use this essential substance to treat minor scalp infections and deep condition your tresses.

Next time you feel like your locks are looking a little lackluster, raid your kitchen for any of these seven spices to restore your hair to its most glorious state without leaving your home.

Laundry Stripping: The Process and Its Effectiveness

Laundry stripping is the latest social media sensation. With videos raking in millions of views, social media "gurus" claim the aggressive cleaning and soaking method can revitalize dingy clothing.

According to advocates of the practice, stripping cleans fabric of buildup from detergent, fabric softener, and soil. As evidence, laundry strippers post videos of bathtubs filled with brown or discolored water after overnight soaks.

Despite positive reviews from proponents, fabric-care scientists explain that discolored water is a result of buildup and dyes and fibers. Stripping is a harsh process and is not suitable for all fabrics, especially delicate materials.

Effectiveness of Laundry Stripping

Despite its aggressiveness, laundry stripping is an effective process. What makes it effective is the chemical solution of washing soda, borax, powdered detergent, and hot water.

Because the process can also leech dyes and natural oils in fabrics, you must check laundry care tags. The tag should state whether a material can handle hot water soaking.

Laundry Stripping and Fabric Safety Concerns

Despite the hype, laundry stripping is not safe for many fabrics. Some items you should not put through the process include:

  • Wool
  • Workout clothes (spandex)
  • Cold-water clothing
  • Dark fabrics

Laundry stripping is most effective on light-colored sheets and towels. These items' thickness, size, and bulk make detergent buildup more likely.

How To Strip Laundry

Some washing machines allow for extended soaks, but that does not mean they can handle the stripping solution. Many appliance manufacturers like Maytag do not recommend laundry stripping in a washer. Manufacturers recommend trying traditional detergents and additives in a long, hot machine soak followed by a rinse cycle.

If you insist on trying the laundry stripping process, you will want to use a large bucket or your bathtub. The process has six steps:

  1. Fill your preferred reservoir with extremely hot water.
  2. Mix 1 cup powdered laundry detergent with 1/4 cup of borax and a 1/4 cup of washing soda.
  3. Submerge laundry in the solution and stir.
  4. Leave the laundry in the solution overnight, stirring occasionally.
  5. Drain the reservoir and rinse the laundry in the washing machine or by hand.
  6. Dry the laundry as usual.

Frequency of Stripping

While some people might want to use laundry stripping often, it is best to reserve the method to only a few times per year. Performing the process too often can damage your fabrics. Also, buildup does not occur fast enough to warrant the method over two to three times per year.

You can usually tell when materials need stripping. Fabrics can feel sticky, smell stale, or feel coarse. Towels might lose their absorbency, and color can become faded or dingy. You should only use stripping when clothing or materials show signs of buildup.

Avoiding Build-Up in the First Place

Laundry stripping is unnecessary if you take necessary precautions when doing laundry. Arguably, the best way to avoid stripping is to use the correct amount of detergent. Too many people use too much detergent. You can also try a few other techniques, including:

  • Not adding detergent and softener together
  • Adding softener during the rinse cycle only
  • Using an extra rinse cycle
  • Not loading the washer over 3/4 of the way
  • Reading detergent directions for measurements

Laundry stripping is effective for removing detergent and soil buildup. Unfortunately, the process can also strip dyes and natural oils, meaning it can harm some fabrics. It is better to use an extra rinse cycle and accurate detergent measurements to avoid buildup altogether.

Why ‘Brutal Honesty’ Is a Relationship Red Flag

You've probably heard it before; a friend or family member says something insulting to you, then claims they were only being 'brutally honest.' This statement can leave you wondering whether you were right to be offended and whether your loved one has your best interests in mind.

Many people wear this questionable character trait as a badge of honor. And as you might already know, brutally honest people typically don't have your best interests in mind when speaking their truth.

How to Distinguish Between Honesty and Brutality

Honesty is a crucial aspect of all healthy relationships. The key is to be honest without judging the other person. If your partner is unhappy with your contributions around the house, they should broach the issue directly but in a constructive way. This entails offering solutions and providing support to get everyone on the same page.

Conversely, brutal honesty is concerned with tearing the other party down. Instead of just addressing the issue, the brutally honest person will call your character into question. Using the above example regarding housework, they may claim that you're lazy or unmotivated, whereas the issue might stem from a new work schedule or recent illness.

Signs That You're Being Emotionally Abused

For some people, brutal honesty strays into the territory of abuse. Identifying abuse in your relationships can be challenging, especially romantic ones. And while every relationship is different, the following signs typically indicate that abuse is occurring:

  • Harsh Personal Critiques - It's OK to find fault with a loved one's actions, and it's also OK to call those actions out. What's not OK is harshly criticizing a person, especially someone you're supposed to love. 
  • Claims of Over-Sensitivity or Irrationality - It's normal to be sensitive after someone insults or belittles you. Many abusers use this claim to cast doubt on the other person's rationality and reasonability, which causes them to question themselves in the future. 
  • Assumption of Motivations - Even people who've known each other for years can't read each other's minds. Be wary if a loved one claims to know what you're thinking as a means of placing blame on you. For example, they may say you have malicious intent when you do not.

Manipulation - Abusers will also claim that they're the ones actually receiving the poor treatment. This is often the case when you respond to something the person said strongly, in which case they might turn it around and claim that you're the one being abusive. 

What You Can Do About a Brutally Honest Person

The first step is to broach the subject with your loved one. Remain calm and collected as you discuss how their words hurt. Displays of emotion are normal and natural, but they can provide the other person fodder for their baseless claims. Use examples that have occurred in your life and use clear, concise language to explain how they made you feel.

Pay close attention to your loved one's response. If they express genuine dismay that they hurt you and promise to do better, it may be possible to move forward. However, if the cycle of brutal honesty simply begins again, you might want to consider whether the relationship is worthwhile.

You Deserve a Loving and Kind Relationship

You deserve respectful treatment, regardless of the type of relationship or how long you've known the person. And if the person is reluctant to alter their behaviors, they're prioritizing their brutal outlook on life over your feelings.

Cleaning Products and Expiration Dates

Many people are surprised to turn over their cleaning products and find expiration dates. However, it is standard practice for many manufacturers to list these dates to ensure customers get the most use out of the product.

If you are like most people, you might hang on to cleaning products for months or even years past their best effective dates. Does that mean the product is no longer going to clean your glass or counter? Not necessarily. The longevity of a product typically depends on the chemicals and formula used.

Why Do Cleaning Products Expire?

When referring to expiration, a manufacturer typically refers to the potency of the product more than anything else. A cleaning product will not usually spoil. Still, the efficacy or usefulness of the item might degrade over time. 

Bleach, a standard household cleaner, typically loses potency about six months after opening it. Experts suggest that bleach will lose approximately 20% of its effectiveness after six months. Glass cleaners tend to hold their potency for longer periods, up to two years.

Therefore, when looking at an expiration date on a cleaning product, do not assume it is no longer safe to use. In most instances, the expiration only signifies the product will not work as well as it once did. It would be best to be cautious of this degradation, especially when using anti-bacterial cleaners.

How Long Should They Last?

While bleach tends to have a short lifespan, most household cleaners will last. In many cases, manufacturers use preservatives to ensure a longer shelf life, in some cases two years. 

Not all products will list an expiration date. They will typically have a "born on date" or lot or batch number. If you are not sure how long you have had a product or think it might no longer be safe or effective, you can contact the manufacturer for more information.

How Can You Dispose of Expired Items?

Some people might want to use every drop of a cleaning product to get the most out of their purchase, but you are better off tossing it once a product reaches expiration. However, do not throw partially full bottles into the trash. Many products are toxic, and throwing them away recklessly can contaminate waterways. 

When you must discard a cleaning product, check the bottle. Most bottles or labels will give instructions for disposal. If you cannot find instructions, contact the manufacturer.

Should You Have an Inventory System?

If the products you use have an expiration date, be sure to organize them according to it in storage. You always want to use the first products you purchased before newer products. 

If there is no expiration date, use a sharpie to label the bottom of the bottle with the date you opened the product. Labeling the products means you always know how long you have been using a product and when to pitch it.

Expiration dates do not mean the same thing on cleaning products as food. Food spoils past its expiration, but cleaning products lose potency. Still, to get the most out of your cleaning supplies, it is best to use products before they expire.

Have you ever used cleaning products past their "best by" date? Did it still perform? Comment below.

Turning Your Home Into an Insect Repelling Machine: 8 Strategies

As the weather warms, insects begin to come out in full force. No one likes to have a yard or house filled with buzzing or creepy-crawly pests. The key is to work before the weather turns to ensure your home repels insects, that it is uninviting and forces them to move on.

1. Seal Doors and Windows

The primary areas of entry are the doors and the windows. You will need to check that the sealant around these vulnerable entry points is intact. If you have any windows that lack screening, you will want to install them to help control what comes in with the cool spring breeze.

2. Repair Cracks and Seal Pipe penetrations

Most insects are tiny and can fit through minuscule cracks or separations. You will need to walk your property and inspect the foundation, structure, and roof for cracks. Use a weatherproof sealer to close any existing gaps. You should also assess the areas where pipes are coming into the house. The cutaway for pipes is often larger than necessary, leaving an opening for bugs to get inside.

3. Maintain Your Yard

Yard debris attracts insects and spiders. Piles of leaves and sticks provide plenty of hiding spaces. When the waste is piled near your home, it won't take long for bugs to make their way into your kitchen. You need to take care of your yard and ensure that any debris is removed quickly.

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4. Store Garbage Correctly

Many insects live in the trash. Garbage provides an abundant food source. When you store your trach, you need to put it in sealed containers. It is also best to keep your trash bins in a garage or shed so other critters cannot find through way into the bags.

5. Cover Other Openings

While sealing the cracks, doorways, and windows around the property helps reduce the risks of bug infestations, you also want to seal any other openings.

One opening most people forget about is the chimney. You can find a fine wire mesh to go over your chimney without restricting ventilation.

6. Keep Foundation Clear

While many people love the look of garden beds and bushes right up against their house, it is not the best thing for insect control. Bugs need shelter, warmth, and food. Bushes and other plant life close to the foundation provide everything. Maintaining a clear foundation with plants staying at least three feet away is better.

7. Declutter Your Space

You cannot forget that insects are most likely already inside your home. The best way to force comfy insects out of your home is to take away some of the sources of their comfort, like cleaning out your cupboards and the bread draw. It also might help to vacuum every day to minimize the likelihood of crumbs.

8. Make a Home for Birds and Bats

The best way to control the insect population around your home is to encourage the nesting of natural predators. Some of the most significant insect eaters are birds and bats.

While most people are OK with encouraging birds, some hit a wall when it comes to bats. However, bats are the most efficient insect predator. That's why installing a bat box is a good idea.

As the weather starts to change with spring right around the corner, it is necessary to consider ways of controlling the insect population around your house. Do you know of any more ways to repel insects? Comment below.

Just How Bad Is Blue Light for Your Eyes?

Until recently, the only factor that affected which LED light bulb I chose revolved around my home décor. Warmer, yellow-colored light feels relaxing while cool blue light seems more energizing. But now, some eye doctors are warning people about health dangers from blue light. Can the type of light you choose really hurt your eyes?

About Blue Light

Most people would tell you that blue light is “artificial” and yellow light is “natural.” But that’s not really true. Actually, the biggest source of blue light is the sun!

If you remember your science classes from high school, normal sunlight is white. When white light passes through a prism, It splits into a rainbow of colors, or wavelengths. This ranges from ultraviolet (UV) rays to infrared. Blue light is the next step up from UV rays.

Common Places You Can Find Blue Light in the Home

There’s more blue light in your home and workplace than you may think:

  • Laptop screens and computer monitors

  • LED TVs

  • Smartphones

  • Tablets

  • Compact fluorescent or LED lights

The Dangers of Blue Light

Because blue light is so close to UV light on the color spectrum, some scientists wonder if it can damage your eyes. Here are some potential effects that make health experts nervous:

  • Eyestrain

  • Dry eyes

  • Blurry vision

  • Cataracts

  • Macular degeneration (damage to the retina)

Blue light is powerful and very bright, especially up close. The retina doesn’t have a way to shield itself from this wavelength, so intense exposure can lead to permanent vision problems.

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Time To Get Rid of Blue Light?

After reading this, you’re probably wondering if you should toss out your high-definition TV or stop using your tablet to read books. Do you need to buy one of those expensive screen filters for blue light? The truth is that you have nothing to worry about.

But wait, didn’t I just say that blue light is dangerous for your eyes? Yes, but only with a powerful light source.

The maximum brightness from electronic gadgets isn’t nearly enough to hurt your retina. Staring at a laptop all day can dry your eyes or cause eye strain, but these are temporary conditions that go away with a little rest.

You should be careful with industrial blue lights, however. These include military-grade flashlights, flood lights, tanning beds, blue lights used for psoriasis treatment and other high-power LEDs.

Benefits of Blue Light

In fact, normal blue light has benefits for your mood and health. Some bright light can help you feel alert in the morning and give you more energy. It can boost your memory and concentration. That’s one reason why I like to go for a short walk if I’m having trouble focusing. Most people feel happier with some daylight shining into the home.

Tips To Protect Your Eye Health

If you're worried about the effect of blue light on your eyes, there are two things you can do. First, give your eyes a rest periodically. Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off the computer screen and grab a glass of water, hug your kids or water your plants. Second, make sure you're getting antioxidants for eye health, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and omega-3s. These nutrients help protect your eyes.

Do Essential Oil Diffusers Actually Do Anything for Your Health or Mood?

Wouldn't it be great if moms could squeeze in little bits of relaxation all day long? That’s what essential oil diffusers promise to do: create a positive, refreshing and energizing ambience that makes you happier and healthier. Do they work?

What Are Essential Oils and Diffusers?

Essential Oils

Essential oils are plant extracts. These natural compounds come from a variety of flowers, herbs, trees and other plants. Some of my favorites are tea tree, lavender, sandalwood, lemon and (of course) rose. Essential oils are often used in aromatherapy to promote wellbeing for body and emotions.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oil diffusers deliver these plant scents into the air as aromatic molecules. That way you can smell relaxing aroma as you’re going about your daily activities. The tiny particles reach your nose’s receptors and send signals to your brain, especially to the area involved with emotions. Today's oil diffusers are similar to the air fresheners of yesteryear, but using comforting natural plant extracts instead of synthetic chemicals.

How Effective Are Essential Oils?

Do essential oils work? To be honest, scientists aren’t completely sure. Some research has shown that essential oils such as lavender can have benefits:

  • Relief from anxiety

  • Help with depression symptoms

  • Sleep quality improvements

  • Calming effects for dementia

  • Pain relief for osteoarthritis

In other words, aromatherapy may help your mood and emotional health, but scientists can’t confirm it. That's why doctors aren't actually writing prescriptions for lavender oil or tea tree oil.

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What Are the Best Types of Essential Oil Diffusers?

There are many types of diffusers to choose from. Each has pros and cons, and you should look at the price tag, too:

  • Electric diffusers: You add essential oil to water and an electric fan disperses the air and oil droplets into the air.
  • Reed diffusers: Small sticks absorb essential oils from a jar and release them into the room naturally. This can take a while, but it’s silent. Reed diffusers are my favorites for the bedroom.
  • Ceramic diffusers: Terracotta or ceramic absorb and gradually release essential oil into the surrounding space. These diffusers don’t have much reach, so they’re best for a bathroom countertop, tub, or another small space.
  • Heat diffusers: Heating essential oils can change their chemical properties and take away therapeutic benefits. Skip these diffusers unless you’re only after the scent.
  • Ultrasonic diffusers: These high-tech devices use vibrations to create a fine mist of essential oils and water. These are great all-around diffusers for large spaces, and they can also humidify the air in dry homes.
  • Nebulizer diffusers: For fast dispersion you can smell throughout the house, nebulizers are hard to beat. I don’t like them personally because I’m always afraid of breaking the glass container. They also go through more essential oil than other options.

What's the Bottom Line for Essential Oil Diffusers?

My point of view is that you should find out whether essential oils work for you personally. Don’t believe crazy claims or miracle cures you read online. Try your favorite aromatic scents with an essential oil diffuser for a month or two. Write down how you feel at the beginning and compare again at the end. If you notice you feel less stressed or that you’re sleeping better at night, keep going!

Sugar-Free Gum: Good for Your Child’s Teeth or Not?

As a parent, you want to take good care of your child’s teeth. At the same time, getting them to brush after every meal probably isn’t realistic. Can sugar-free gum help prevent cavities?

Is Chewing Gum Good for Your Kids’ Teeth?

Chewing is a great way to reduce cavities for kids and adults alike. When kids chew, their mouths produce more saliva. This helps prevent tooth decay by neutralizing the acid that causes cavities. Saliva also washes away leftover food particles. Sugar-free gum isn’t a replacement for some good old-fashioned brushing, but it’s a nice way provide dental hygiene after lunch or dinner.

That said, the type of gum you choose is very important. The kind of gum your kids want you to buy — bubble gum with fruit fillings — is definitely NOT good for teeth. Instead of preventing tooth decay, bubble gum encourages bacteria to grow. It also pushes the sugar right up against your child’s teeth, easily causing a bunch of cavities.

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Is Sugar-Free Gum Safe for Kids?

This is a tricky question because it actually involves two things: if artificial sweeteners are safe for kids and if gum is dangerous as far as choking is concerned. The answers can vary depending on your child and your family.

The Oral Health Foundation recommends not giving gum to kids under the age of seven. At the same time, it acknowledges that parents are the best judges of when children are ready.

As far as the safety of artificial sweeteners goes, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that there’s no evidence these ingredients can hurt children at all (unless you have a rare condition called phenylketonuria). Also, sugar-free gum has relatively tiny levels of artificial sweeteners compared to other products.

To give you an idea of the amount, a stick of chewing gum has around 6–8 milligrams while a can of diet soda has 180 milligrams. Your kids would need to eat the equivalent of 24 sweetener packets to meet the FDA’s max limit. If you’re still concerned, choose gum made with xylitol, erythritol or other natural sugar alcohols.

Is It Bad for Kids To Swallow Gum?

This is part myth and part rare-but-weird concern. First, nothing usually happens if school-age kids swallow gum. It will literally be out of their systems in a day or two. The only exception to this is if children are constipated and swallow a LOT of gum. So, take this urban legend with a grain of salt.

Are There Any Alternatives to Sugar-Free Gum That Kids Like?

Remember, it’s the act of chewing, not sugar-free gum itself, that helps prevent cavities. Depending on the age of your kids, you can offer them naturally crispy or chewy foods instead. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Apple slices
  • Celery sticks
  • Snap peas
  • Jicama
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Rice cakes
  • Whole grain bagels

My kids love foods with a crunchy texture, so these veggies are a big hit. I also keep a few packs of sugar-free gum around for when we need something quick to chew. I’ve noticed that as long as I have everything already cut in the fridge, they actually go for the fresh fruit and veggies more often than gum.

Ranking Salad Dressings From Most Healthy to Least Healthy

There's nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy a variety of salad dressings. These days, you have a lot of options for giving salads a kick of flavor. What are the best healthy salad dressings?

The Healthiest Salad Dressings

These are my favorite dressings, and they won't add to your waistline:

  1. Vinaigrette: These dressings are full of flavor and focus on a few simple ingredients. What I love is the endless variety. You can go for balsamic vinegar, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar — even strawberries! And with basil, cilantro and other herbs, all I can say is “yum.”
  2. Green Goddess: It’s easy to find green goddess dressing made with a base of Greek yogurt. This gives you the creaminess you crave without the fat. Along with probiotics from the yogurt, you’re getting lots of vitamins from olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and green onions.
  3. Greek or Mediterranean Dressings: Think creamy Italian dressing, minus the cream. Many Greek dressings use avocado oil and extra-virgin olive oil for thickness. Both of these oils give you lots of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant vitamins.
  4. Sesame Ginger: My kids love Asian-style dressings, and I think they spice up meals at home. Look for real garlic, ginger and rice wine vinegar in the ingredients, and try to keep sugar down with nut butter.
  5. Honey Dijon: Both Dijon mustard and honey make dressings thicker and smoother naturally. If you’re adding a salad to a meat-and-potatoes meal, try this dressing. The reason it's near the bottom is that you have to keep an eye on sugar and calories with store-bought versions.

The Least Healthy Salad Dressings

Basically, anything with the word “creamy” in its name is going to shock you into falling backwards when you look at the fat content and calories. This includes blue cheese, Caesar dressing, thousand island, French and (sigh) everyone’s favorite ranch dressing.

Now the good news. You can find reasonably healthy alternatives to each. Some replace mayo with avocado oil, coconut milk or Greek yogurt. Others go big on flavor from high-quality ingredients (like more blue cheese) to reduce the amount of other ingredients. Herbs and spices such as chipotle, jalapenos, basil, dill, parsley and chives add a boost of flavor all by themselves.

The Benefits of Homemade Salad Dressings

Homemade dressings offer a lot of benefits:

  • You control salt and sugar levels
  • Non-refined, natural oils give you more heart benefits than many store-bought dressings
  • Fresh ingredients provide more vitamins and minerals
  • Homemade dressings offer more flavor with less fat
  • Dressing you make at home doesn’t have any preservatives

That said, as a mom, it’s not always easy to find the time. Don't feel guilty if organic from the store is the best you can do.

A Sensible View of Dressings

I like to take a balanced view of mom-hood and weight loss. Focusing too strictly on every calorie can make healthy eating a chore. Isn’t encouraging your family to eat more salad a good thing?

It keeps you and your kids munching on fresh ingredients: romaine lettuce, arugula, alfalfa sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, yellow peppers and avocados. That's WAY better kids begging for pizza every night because they're tired of plain vinaigrette with every salad.

More salad + healthy dressing options = more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and more! That’s a win in my book. So, don't punish yourself if you buy (gasp!) the tiniest bottle of (double gasp!) Ranch dressing sometimes.

Do Most Coffee Creamers Have Dangerous Chemicals?

I’m a “no sugar, two creams, please” type of girl. So you can imagine my surprise when a friend of mine sent me an article saying that coffee creamers aren’t good for you — more than that, they’re downright dangerous! Every fiber of my being wanted to shout “that’s blasphemy!” Are coffee creamers really bad for you?

What’s In Your Favorite Coffee Creamer?

The first shocker for me is that most coffee creamers are loaded with sugar — more than a teaspoon per serving! But that’s not the worst part by a long shot:

Hydrogenated Oil

This is just another name for trans fats. To make this artificial fat, manufacturers add powdered nickel or other metals to vegetable oil. Hydrogenated oil adds a "creamier" texture. According to the FDA, partially hydrogenated oils are not Generally Recognized as Safe in food. They raise bad cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

Cellulose Gel

I’ll give you a hint: cellulose is another name for “wood.” That’s right, some popular coffee creamers add small amounts of wood pulp to help thicken the consistency of cheaper ingredients. Don’t want wood particles in your coffee? Yeah, me either.

Carrageenan

This additive and preservative is technically “natural” because it comes from a type of moss (mmm!). But carrageenan has been linked to a bunch of health problems, from IBS and bloating to colon cancer and arthritis.

Why do companies use these weird ingredients if they’re so bad for you? Because they’re cheap. Some corporations are happy to make a profit whether it hurts you or not.

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What Are the Best Alternatives to Coffee Creamer?

Now for the good news. There are a lot of tasty, natural and healthy alternatives you can add to your joe. And the flavor is WAY better:

  • Milk: Simple, heathy and easy. Depending on whether you choose whole or 2%, milk isn’t as thick as other options, but it has less total fat and gives you calcium, vitamin D… the whole shebang.
  • Heavy cream: This has more fat than milk (1 tsp has 50 calories), but you also don’t need to use much. This is my favorite option for “treating myself” for the first cup of coffee in the day, but I don’t use it for other cups.
  • Almond milk: Tons of vitamin B12, a creamy texture and a nutty flavor make almond milk amazing for coffee.
  • Coconut oil: If you’re on a keto diet, coconut oil in your coffee is a must. It gives you a rush of energy, boosts your metabolism and provides healthy MCT oil for burning fat. This is how you make Bulletproof coffee at home.
  • Coconut milk: Some brands add a lot of sugar, but you can find coconut milk that is just pureed coconut and water. Trust me, this option is really creamy and it adds an irresistible aroma to your coffee.
  • Unsweetened nut milk: You don’t need to buy an artificial creamer to enjoy hazelnut, vanilla or macadamia nut in your coffee. Just go straight to the source. Macadamia nut milk has all that delicious flavor you want, and zero weird ingredients.

Some cheapskate companies still try to sneak in carrageenan into these natural alternatives, so look at the label before you buy. It’s perfectly possible to enjoy creamy coffee and stay healthy at the same time. Now I’m going to celebrate with … you know what!