On hectic mornings, many Americans run to their local Starbucks for a hot, sweet wake-up drink before work, believing a little sugar in your coffee couldn’t be too bad… right? While coffee has a lot of health benefits, unfortunately those sugary syrups added to your coffee are the opposite of healthy.
As it turns out, many Starbucks drinks have a lot more sugar than you may have thought — up to four times the amount recommended by the American Heart Association, in fact.
The campaign group Action for Sugar, whose staff and advisors include doctors, as well as public health and nutrition specialists, recently analyzed the sugar content of 131 hot beverages served in cafés across Britain. The focus was on nine major coffee and food retailers, including Starbucks.
Analysis results showed that Starbucks topped the sugar-laden list. Of the 34 Starbucks drinks analyzed by Action for Sugar, seven made it onto the top 10 list for highest sugar per serving.
The absolute “winner” was Starbucks’ Hot Mulled Fruit (grape with chai, orange and cinnamon). This beverage contained 25 teaspoons of sugar, earning it the title of “worst offender.” Starbucks’ Venti White Chocolate Mocha with whipped cream wasn’t too far behind, with 20 teaspoons of sugar. The Caramel Macchiato and the Vanilla Latte were found to have eight teaspoons of sugar each.
According to Action for Sugar’s report, over 98 percent of hot flavored beverages surveyed had “excessive levels of sugar per serving.” Sugar content of nine or more teaspoons was found in 35 percent of the beverages analyzed. Nine teaspoons is the amount of sugar in one can of Coca-Cola.
Although this survey was performed in the United Kingdom, the sugar content of many Starbucks drinks served in the United States, and in other places across the globe, is comparable: way too high.
Graham MacGregor, chairman of Action on Sugar, stated:
“This is yet again another example of scandalous amounts of sugar added to our food and drink.”
Right now, the American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day for women, and no more than nine teaspoons per day for men. However, the World Health Organization has suggested that this amount be cut down to no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day for any adult of normal weight.
Plus, according to many experts, there is no such thing as a “safe” level of added sugars. With the rise of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders, added sugars have no place in our diets. Sugar has also been implicated in a range of other chronic illnesses, including depression and cancer.
Not surprisingly, Starbucks has come under fire as a result of this report. A Starbucks company spokesperson responded with this statement:
“Earlier this year we committed to reduce added sugar in our indulgent drinks by 25 percent by the end of 2020. We also offer a wide variety of lighter options, sugar-free syrups and sugar-free natural sweetener and we display all nutritional information in-store and online.”
While it may seem positive that Starbucks is gearing toward making a change for the better, how much better will this change really be? Even if all the sugary drinks on the Action for Sugar list had 25 percent less sugar, it would still equal way too much. Plus, those syrups contain more than just sugar. They are an unhealthy cocktail comprising a slew of additives, preservatives, and artificial flavors and colorings.
The simple solution for those of us who do not want to raise our risk of disease is to get up five minutes earlier and brew our own organic coffee at home — and to skip the sugar cubes, of course.
Tanya is a writer at The Alternative Daily with a passion for meditation, music, poetry, and overall creative and active living. She has a special interest in exploring traditional Eastern remedies and superfoods from around the globe, and enjoys spending time immersed in nature.