Welcome to Part Two of my investigation into Nutrition Action’s rhetorical question, “Pour Better or Pour Worse?” When we last met, I discussed some of the merits of different forms of caffeine delivery (short of intravenously . . .), and today I’ll put a dent into the milk, cream, dairy powder, sugar, etc. that are added to coffee and tea drinks to make them more appealing to sugar-shocked Americans. Let’s dive right in, and hopefully we’ll be able to get back out from under all of the saturated fat!
It is not too difficult to make healthy choices at your local coffee house, provided that you know what to look for. Before we get to the basic guidelines like avoiding whole milk and extra syrup flavors, here are some cold, hard facts about those creamy liquid delights (consider this a scare tactic):
· A Venti (24 oz.) Vanilla Bean Frappuccino® Blended Crème has as many calories as a Big Mac, almost as many grams of fat as a medium order of McDonald’s French Fries, and over five times as much sugar as a glazed donut from Dunkin Donuts.
· A Venti (24 oz.) Java Chip Frappuccino® has 650 calories and nearly an entire day’s worth of saturated fat. It’s like a cup of coffee, plus 11 creamers and 29 packets of sugar.
· Adding a flavored syrup and whole milk to a Grande (16 oz.) adds 170 calories!
Everything is fine in moderation, but if your wouldn’t choose to eat at McDonald’s four times a week, why would you choose a Java Chip Frappuccino four times a week? I can’t stress this enough, it is fine to enjoy a specialty coffee drink once in a while, just remember these tips to keep your coffee break from turning into a Big Mac break:
· Substitute whole milk with non-fat milk or soy milk to save 50-100 calories and 4-5 grams of saturated fat.
· Skip the whipped cream. It adds about 120 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat to your drink!
· Use no-cal, sugar free syrups over others which add about 70 calories to your drink.
Here’s what Nutrition Action has to say about Starbucks Frappuccinos®:
“The original Coffee Frappuccino Blended Coffee—which comes from a mix (mostly sugar, coffee, and milk) blended with ice and sans whipped cream—has only 260 calories and 2 grams of saturated fat in a grande. Not too shabby.
. . . Shabby are all the other flavors which deliver 420 to 550 calories and about 10 grams of sat fat.”
Their experts recommend choosing a Frappuccino® Light instead of a Java Chip, but as a Frappuccino® lover myself I think that’s bad advice because Starbuck’s light version tastes horrible. When I’m in the mood for a blended coffee, I go down to my local independent coffee house (where they make blended drinks with actual ingredients, rather than powder) and ask them to substitute the whole milk for non-fat or soy. Some places use a dairy-based smoothie powder – to make their drinks creamy – which you can ask the barista to leave out in order to cut out sugar, carbs, and sometimes fat. If I’m looking for a flavor punch, I bring my own banana or orange juice and ask the barista to blend that in too. Orange zest is my favorite addition, but I know that’s a bit too much to ask of you at 8 o’clock in the morning..
Furthermore, if you’re looking for something cold and icy, try one of Jamba Juice’s new all-fruit smoothies, or make your own with fresh produce. Although fruit smoothies pack a lot of calories and sugar, they don’t fill you with empty calories from milk and refined sugar. Instead, they provide nutrients that we should be getting from eating a balanced diet and natural fructose sugar that sticks with you for several hours (no sugar-high here!). Thanks to decades of fad-diets, American common-sense now tells us that a non-fat sugar-free latte is healthier than a bowl of fruit (who the hell decided that fruit was bad for you?!), but the food pyramid still tells us to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Can you imagine what the population might look like today if we all understood that we need to eat a diverse mix of unrefined produce and grains, rather than heavily-processed Weight Watchers products?