September 5, 2007

You Ask, I Answer: Sugar & Starbucks

I'm hoping you can help settle a bet. My friend and I were wondering what's the least healthy option at Starbucks as far as an iced skim latte is concerned. Is it worse to add caramel on top, get whipped cream on it, or put 2 packs of sugar into it? I think the caramel is the worst, he says the two packs of sugar is. Who wins?

-- Natalie Taylor
Aurora, CO

And so I answer the third e-mail I've received in the past 24 hours concerning sugar.

Well, Natalie, neither of you can be declared a winner. Allow me to break this down.

One serving of caramel sauce at Starbucks clocks in at 0.5 ounces, 15 calories, and 2 grams of sugar. Even if we assume the barista is in a giving, upbeat mood and squirts twice that much into your coffee, you're only looking at an extra 30 calories and 4 grams of sugar (the equivalent of 1 sugar packet).

The two packets of sugar add up to 32 extra calories and 8 grams of sugar (approximately 20% of the maximum amount you should be having each day).

The real doozy here is the whipped cream. If this iced latte you are referring to is a tall, we're talking 79 calories and 1.4 grams of sugar. Grande or venti? Then that's 110 extra calories and 2 grams of sugar added to your drink.

"Doozy? That sounds harmless to me," you might think.

Well, I'm afraid it doesn't stop there.

The whipped cream added to your tall drink also contains 5 grams of saturated fat, or 25% of the recommended daily limit! The grande or venti? 7 grams! That's one more gram of artery clogging fat than a McDonald's cheeseburger.

My advice? If you're looking to add some sweetness to your java, stick to sugar or a little caramel drizzle and pass on the whipped cream.

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