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    Archive for the ‘Starbucks’ Category

    Just ‘Cause It’s Made With Pumpkin Doesn’t Mean It’s Healthy

    pumpkins-main_FullAs autumn proceeds to pepper foliage with orange and red hues, drop temperatures, and add a unique crisp to the air, food chains roll out their traditional seasonal offerings.

    As you can see below, the Fall season brings plenty of nutritional frights!

    • Au Bon Pain pumpkin muffin: 530 calories
    • Au Bon Pain large pumpkin latte: 40 grams of added sugar (as much as a can of Coca-Cola; 160 additional calories)
    • Dairy Queen small pumpkin pie Blizzard: 570 calories, 12 grams saturated fat (60% of a day’s worth)
    • Dunkin’ Donuts pumpkin muffin: 630 calories (130 more than a large order of McDonald’s french fries)
    • Dunkin’ Donuts large pumpkin latte: 44 grams of added sugar (11 teaspoons, or 176 additional calories)
    • Starbucks pumpkin scone: 480 calories, 9 grams (almost half a day’s worth) of saturated fat, 38 grams of added sugar (9.5 teaspoons; 152 additional calories)
    • Panera Bread Company pumpkin-shaped shortbread cookie: 12 grams saturated fat (as much as a tablespoon and a half of butter)

    Enjoy responsibly.

    Any time you purchase a flavored coffee, make it a small, and skip — or ask for half — the whipped cream.

    Similarly, these gigantic baked goods are better off in the “no more than once a week” category.

    The key is to plan accordingly.  If sharing isn’t an option, then make that baked good your only sweet of the day, and be sure that your lunch and dinner that day mainly consist of a protein and plenty of vegetables (ie: grilled fish and sauteed broccoli, three-bean chili, seitan or chicken with a baked sweet potato, canned tuna or grilled chicken over a colorful salad, etc.)

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    Three Easy Ways To Reduce Your Intake of Added Sugars

    sugarFollowing last week’s post on the amount of added sugar in a large McDonald’s vanilla latte, I received several e-mails asking for tips on gradually reducing sugar consumption.

    Here are my three favorite strategies.  They are realistic, practical, and will have you consuming a lot less added sugar (and calories!) in a few weeks.

    1. At Starbucks: Call The Shots

    Although it’s common knowledge — and prominent in pop culture humor — that Starbucks lets you customize your drink to the last detail, many people forget this applies to the amount of sugar you get.

    Any time you ask for a beverage with flavored syrup in it (i.e.: hazelnut latte or caramel machiatto), these are the sugar and calorie amounts you are getting:

    • Tall: 1 pump of syrup (4 grams/1 teaspoon of sugar, 16 extra calories)
    • Grande: 3 pumps of syrup (12 grams/3 teaspoons of sugar, 48 extra calories)
    • Venti: 5 pumps of syrup (20 grams/5 teaspoons of sugar, 80 extra calories)

    Next time you order a Grande or Venti flavored drink, specify “with 1 pump of syrup.”  You’ll save yourself anywhere from 8 to 16 grams (two to four teaspoons!) of added sugar.

    2. Befriend seltzer

    A daily soda habit can be a difficult thing to change, particularly if the goal goes beyond simply replacing full-calorie soda with diet soda.

    My favorite tip here is to slowly wean yourself off regular soda with the help of seltzer.

    Say your soda habit consists of a 20-ounce bottle of Sierra Mist with dinner every night.

    Rather than make your goal 20 ounces of Diet Sierra Mist’s artificial chemicals a day, gradually adjust your tastebuds to flavored seltzer (which has no added sugars or sweeteners).

    Even though artificial sweeteners are calorie-free (or very low in calories), they register as “several times sweeter than sugar” with our tastebuds.  The last thing you want to do is make the tastebuds become accustomed to that degree of sweetness!

    Start by drinking a 75% soda/25% lemon-lime seltzer combination for one full week.  The next week, try a 50/50 ratio.  The week after that, create a 25/75 ratio.

    By the time you fully replace soda with seltzer, you will have effortlessly gotten rid of 188 calories (and 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar) from your diet.

    3. Get Your Energy From Whole Foods, Not Candy Energy Bars

    The vast majority of “energy bars” and “protein bars” are nothing more than vitamin-and-mineral-fortified chocolate bars with a sprinkle of extra protein.

    The average Luna bar has almost three teaspoons of added sugar, while a typical Clif Bar contains anywhere from five to six teaspoons (as much as 10 Hershey’s kisses).

    High-protein bars, meanwhile, can pack in as much added sugar as a 12-ounce can of soda.

    I am not suggesting you should never eat these bars, but they truly belong in the “treat” category (rather than under “healthy snacks”).

    As an alternative, pack one of the following snacks in your gym bag, briefcase, bookbag, or purse:

    • Handful of nuts of your choice
    • Lara or Clif Nectar bars (since the sugar in these bars is exclusively naturally-occurring from fruits, it is not a source of empty calories)
    • Mini nut butter sandwiches (try almond or cashew butter if you’re bored with peanut butter) made with 100% whole grain crackers
    • Low-sugar (no more than 6 grams of sugar per serving) 100% whole grain cereal
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    Fiber! In Coffee?

    A few months ago I told you about Starbucks’ new “plus energy” shots, which enabled customers to infuse some B vitamins and other ingredients (including taurine and ginseng) into their beverages.

    I’m assuming that has worked out well for the coffee chain, since they now offer a new “plus” option — “plus protein.”

    Say those two words and your beverage will contain a few more grams of protein (4 for a tall, 5 for a grande, 6 for a venti) and one — yes, one — gram of fiber.

    The coffee chain is pushing this as one of “three healthier ways to start your day.”

    It’s worth pointing out that another involves a 420-calorie apple bran muffin and cup of espresso (“for a quick energy boost” — yeah, a 420 calorie muffin will certainly provide that!)

    Anyhow, this new booster is specifically advertised as containing”the added benefit of extra protein and fiber, to help fill you up and give you the energy you need to make the most of your day.

    I simply don’t get it.

    For starters, protein is an over-consumed nutrient in most Western countries — especially the United States.

    The average adult in this country consumes, on average, 200 – 250 percent of their daily protein requirement.

    Certainly not a danger, but also very far from the notion that we are all on the verge of protein malnutrition (you would think we were, based on how many products advertise their protein content with large fonts and exclamation marks.)

    Additionally, the milk in these lattes already makes them a a very good source of protein.

    A grande latte, for instance, provides 12 grams of protein — roughly 15 – 20 percent of a day’s worth for most adults.

    An additional 5 grams of protein does not make it a “healthier” (or “unhealthier”) drink, just a little bit higher in calories.

    I’m also not a fan of that seemingly random measly gram of fiber. It’s not really going to do much in the way of “filling you up.”

    Besides, there are plenty of foods offering a lot more fiber (and additional nutrition).

    A medium apple contains 4.5 grams. A medium banana? Two and a half. A slice of whole wheat toast? 3 grams. A cup of oatmeal will add 4.5 grams to your day (most of that as soluble fiber, which is particularly helpful at providing a long-lasting feeling of fullness.)

    If Starbucks is looking to lure more customers in, they should forget all this silly nutritional tinkering and simply lower their prices!

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    Starbucks’ Little Secret

    Did you know Starbucks menus are leaving out some vital information?

    Although “tall” (12 ounces), “grande” (16 ounces) and “venti” (24 ounces for a cold beverage, 20 for a hot one) are the three sizes everyone is familiar with, there is a fourth one many people don’t even know exist — “short” (8 ounces)!

    Funny, isn’t it?

    Whereas in many countries a standard coffee order comes in a very small cup containing just 2 or 3 ounces, here in the United States the smallest size is completely hidden from customers.

    Don’t be afraid to order a “short” beverage at Starbucks if it strikes your fancy — I assure you every single barista knows what you’re referring to.

    However, two friends of mine have reported that two New York City branches had “run out” of 8 ounce cups (interesting, seeing as how most consumers don’t even know there is such an option!)

    The photo at right displays all four sizes. Quite the spectrum, wouldn’t you say?

    One great thing about smaller portions is that they present a manageable way to consume foods that can be problematic in large amounts.

    A short latte with whole milk, for instance, contains 110 calories and 17% of the daily saturated fat limit.

    Make it a Venti, and you’re up to 290 calories and 45% of a day’s worth of saturated fat!

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    In The News: What’s Next? Genetically Modified Bananas With Extra Potassium?

    Desperate times do indeed call for desperate measures.

    Currently experiencing a lull in revenue, coffee giant Starbucks jumps on the energy drink bandwagon 5 years after everyone else.

    That’s right — you can now amp any Starbucks beverage — hot or iced — by simply saying “plus energy” at the end of your order (dare you to order a “grande sugarfree vanilla decaf carameal macchiatto with breve plus energy” without stopping to take a breath!).

    The “plus energy” concoction — created by Starbucks’ “research and development team, a group of culinary experts, food scientists and product designers” — includes the usual suspects: ginseng, guarana, taurine, L-carnitine, and B vitamins.

    FYI: Guarana is a berry native to South America containing four times as much caffeine as coffee beans. It’s extremely popular in Brazil, where it is mainly consumed as a soda, in both regular and diet varieties.

    Is all this really necessary in a coffee-based drink? I vote “no.”

    Why are “energy mixes” billed as the only solution for a drop in energy levels? Is healthy eating and getting enough shut eye not “cool” enough?

    And why are we increasingly encouraging people to walk around like the Energizer bunny on crack?

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    You "Ask", I Answer: Sugar and Satiety

    [In regards to your Reuters.com interview about added sugar in the diet, some of your comments are inaccurate.]

    There is no daily maximum recommendation for added sugars.

    Based on insufficient evidence of links to dental caries, behaviour problems, cancer, risk of obesity and risk of hyperlipidemia, no upper limit (UL) was set within the Dietary Reference Intakes for added sugars.

    However, although a UL was not set, a maximum intake level of 25% or less of energy was suggested based on the decreased intake of some micronutrients of American subpopulations exceeding this level.

    25% or less of a 2,000 calorie diet is 125g of sugar.

    [Also,] I am not sure how you can say that a muffin is not satiating.

    A muffin contains more than sugar. It contains fat and some protein (more if it contains nuts) and, depending on the type of muffin, possibly fiber.

    All of these components are strongly linked to satiety.

    – Kristy [last name unknown]
    Via the blog

    There most certainly are maximum recommendations for added sugars.

    The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that people consuming 2,000 calories consume no more than 40 grams per day.

    If you take in 1,600 calories, that figures drops to 24 grams. Those of you on a 2,800 calorie plan can consume up to 72 grams.

    I am not sure where the “25% of calories” figure you mention comes from.  I have never seen or heard of it.

    Onto your muffin comment.

    While these baked goods are certainly not pure sugar, the percentage of calories from the sweet stuff is quite high.

    In the case of a Starbucks 360-calorie low-fat blueberry and apricot muffin, 12.5 percent of calories come from fat, 7 percent from protein, and a stunning 50 percent from sugar (not general carbohydrates, just sugar!)

    Even the full-fat muffins get a full quarter of their calories from sugar!

    In both cases, fiber barely registers at just 2 grams.

    I never said that muffins “do not satiate”.

    Instead, I pointed out that the high amounts of sugar are troubling because absolutely none of those calories contribute to a feeling of fullness.

    Satiety can be achieved with less calories by replacing sugar grams with ones of fiber.

    Why achieve satiety with 500 calories when you can achieve it with 275 of oatmeal, milk, and fruit?

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    You Ask, I Answer: Sugar/Fruit Juices

    I was recently drinking some of Welch’s “100% White Grape Juice” (from concentrate unfortunately) and it boldly states “No Sugar Added” on the bottle.

    The nutrition facts label on the back states that there are 50g of sugar in the 10oz bottle!

    They mention that it’s all natural fruit sugars but I was wondering, does your body react to the sugar in this bottle of grape juice the same way it would in, say, a tall (12oz) Starbucks Vanilla Bean Frappuccino (44g sugar)?

    Is the sugar in my “healthy” grape juice having the same effect on my body as the sugar in the Starbucks “treat”?

    — Andrew Carney
    Spokane, WA

    Our bodies react the same way to fructose (the sugar in fruit) and sucrose (“table sugar”).

    Why, then, you might be wondering, is a Starbucks frappuccino with whipped cream “bad” while a banana is “good”?

    It really has to do with what those two options offer besides sugar.

    In the frappuccino case, you are getting quite a bit of saturated fat from the whipped cream (half a day’s worth!) as well as a pretty significant amount of empty calories (324, to be exact).

    The banana — or any whole fruit for that matter — provides fiber (which helps keep blood sugar levels steady), phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals (one of them being potassium, which the typical US diet is rather low in).

    It goes without saying that the Starbucks concoction offers a significantly higher amount of sugar than a fruit.

    Fruit juices are tricky because the “no sugar added” marketing is very misleading.

    As you know, fruits contain naturally-occurring fructose.

    A juice made with juice concentrate (basically the result of fruit sugar being boiled down to a thicker consistency) doesn’t have additional sucrose (table sugar), hence the “valid” claim that your grape juice has “no added sugar”.

    However, unlike with an actual piece of fruit, you aren’t taking in fiber.

    This means that a cup of juice raises your blood sugar at a faster level than a piece of fruit and doesn’t provide as many health benefits.

    One way to get around that is by having your juice with a good source of fiber like almonds, whole grain crackers, whole wheat bread, or a food bar like Clif Nectar or Lara.

    Keep in mind, though, that this results in you taking in more calories than if you just ate an actual fruit.

    A cup of Welch’s No Sugar Added grape juice and one ounce of almonds (about 21 of them) adds up to 324 calories and 3.3 grams of fiber.

    A medium sized apple gives you that EXACT amount of fiber in a 78 calorie package.

    This is why the term “all natural” should not be perceived as a synonym for “healthy or “nutritious”.

    As far I’m concerned, fruit juice is much closer to the “soda” end of the beverage spectrum than the “glass of water” end.

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    In The News: A Soda Tax?

    Over in San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsom is toying with the idea of imposing an anti-obesity tax on stores selling foods and beverages containing high-fructose corn syrup.

    Although I understand what he is attempting to achieve, I believe Mayor Newson is going about this the wrong way.

    Sweetened drinks undoubtedly add extra calories to anyone’s day, but I have a problem with foods being automatically branded as “bad” or “evil,” regardless of context.

    I don’t think the problem to tackle is soda itself as it is the ridiculous amounts of it people are used to drinking.

    Between unlimited refills, 20 ounce to-go bottles, and 64 ounce containers at 7-11, it is perfectly feasible to accompany any given meal with as much as 1,000 liquid calories!

    And while high fructose corn syrup is a dirt cheap man-made sweetener that is metabolized differently than real sugar (for one, it does not trigger our brain’s satiety center when consumed), eliminating it will not decrease an obesity problem.

    I have seen the graphs showing a correlation between high fructose corn syrup intake and rising obesity rates in the United States, but it is important to point out that increased high fructose corn syrup intake was also accompanied by exploding portion sizes and easier availability of sugar and fat-laden foods.

    It makes much more sense to attribute weight gain to extra calories in the form of more food (larger portions).

    Remember, high fructose corn syrup delivers just as many calories as any other sugar (fructose, honey, or table sugar) per teaspoon.

    I would hate for people to think that products made with real sugar automatically get a free pass.

    A Starbucks Venti vanilla latte accompanied by a banana chocolate-chip muffin adds up to over 1,000 calories and as much added sugar as a can of Coke.

    High fructose syrup might be missing from the equation, but that does not make this “meal” healthier or waist-friendly.

    A better initiative would be to help convenience stores (particularly those in low-income neighborhoods) offer healthier items (as attempted by New York City’s Healthy Bodega initiative).

    What do you think?

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    ‘Tis the Season… To Drink Big Macs?

    The latest Starbucks campaign proudly advertises the seasonal return of three holiday beverages — eggnog, peppermint mocha, and gingerbread lattes.

    If winter just isn’t the same with a daily eggnog latte for you, I’m afraid I have some bad news.

    Even at its tamest (tall size, with nonfat milk), this beverage delivers:

    • 350 calories
    • 9 grams of saturated fat (45% of the recommended daily maximum)
    • 5 teaspoons of added sugar

    Let’s put this into context for a minute.

    That’s as many calories as six and a half Oreo cookies, as much saturated fat as a Big Mac, and twice as much sugar as a chocolate frosted Dunkin’ Donuts donut.

    Like it grande (and still nonfat)? That adds up to:

    • 450 calories
    • 11 grams of saturated fat
    • 7 teaspoons of added sugar.

    Thinking more along the lines of a Venti (20 ounce beverage) made with 2% milk? This particular concoction contains:

    • 610 calories
    • 17 grams of saturated fat
    • 10.5 teaspoons of added sugar.

    We’re talking 60 more calories than half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, 85% of the daily saturated fat limit, and as much sugar as a can of Coke.

    You’re better off with the other seasonal options.

    A tall, gingerbread latte with 2 percent/reduced fat milk (Starbucks’ standard) without whipped cream only adds 200 calories to your day. The fat and saturated fat amount, meanwhile, are within reasonable limits, and you get a quarter of your recommended daily calcium intake.

    Go ahead and have some eggnog at your office party, but keep it out of your daily coffee habit!

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    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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    Burn, Baby, Burn?

    When it comes to weight loss, people are often desperate for an extra boost — and marketers gladly oblige.

    It seems that using caffeine as an ingredient piques dieters’ interest – and their wallets’.

    So, does caffeine truly speed up weight loss?

    It’s funny, really, because the majority of the research concludes the following: caffeine consumption in people who exercise regularly and follow diets that provide less calories than their regular dietary intake results in weight loss.

    In essence, these people would have lost weight even without those extra two cups of coffee.

    If you decrease your caloric intake and increase your physical activity over an extended period of time, you will surely lose weight.

    If you happened to chew three pieces of gum every day while doing this, I’m sure some study could conclude that “chewing three pieces of gum a day while exercising regularly and eating a reduced-calorie diet results in weight loss.”

    Get my point?

    While it is true that caffeine often acts as an appetite suppressant, this effect usually lasts approximately 45 minutes.

    The large majority of the over-the-counter “fat burning” products you see contain caffeine along with a handful of other stimulants, thus rendering them more powerful in holding off your hunger. Caffeine in and of itself is not enough.

    Trying to beat a hunger pang by drinking two cups of black coffee will not trick the body into thinking it has been fed.

    Additionally, most people who consume caffeine are not having it in the form of black coffee. By the time you add milk and sugar, you are ending up with more calories in your day, the exact opposite of what you want to do if you are looking to lose weight.

    A lot of companies that develop weight-loss aids containing caffeine are quick to point out is “thermogenic” effects – that is, its ability to help the body burn calories while digesting and absorbing it.

    And while it is true that caffeine’s thermogenic effect is higher than, say, watermelon’s, it is not high enough by any means to truly be considered a “calorie burner”.

    What caffeine does accomplish as a diuretic is increasing urine volume, resulting in water loss, and thus a lower temporary weight (“weight loss”).

    So, yes, if you suddenly add four or five cups of coffee to your day, it is very likely you will feel – and see yourself as – less bloated. Guess what? You are.

    That being said, the moment that lost water is replenished, you’re back to your normal self.

    While I’m at it, allow me to shatter a popular myth here, which I have literally had 12 people ask me about over the past few months. Eating chocolate-covered espresso beans does not result in “caloric balance”. In other words, the espresso will not burn off the calories from the chocolate.

    A quarter cup of chocolate covered espresso beans is calorically equivalent to a quarter cup of plain M & M’s. These are treats, not diet tricks.

    Similarly, a Venti latte with whipped cream and caramel provides 600 calories – don’t count on caffeine to lower that number for you.

    By all means, continue to enjoy your coffee (current recommendations are capped at three eight ounce cups… or one Starbucks Venti). Savor it, delight your nasal passages with its aroma, and pour it over ice cubes for a cool summer beverage.

    When it comes to weight loss, though, you’re better off picking up a pedometer than a hot cup of Joe.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Starbucks Drinks

    At Starbucks, I only drink tall soy chai lattes. How do they compare to the coffee drinks?

    — Jacqueline (Last name withheld)
    Coral Gables, FL

    A tall soy chai latte contains little fat (just 2% of the saturated fat we are allowed a day) and will set you back 210 calories.

    Most of these calories come from the 36 grams (9 teaspoons) of added sugar.  For the record, that is as much sugar as a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola!

    FYI: if Starbucks used plain, rather than vanilla-flavored, soymilk for its beverages, this drink would contain one fewer teaspoon of sugar.

    Most of the sugar, however, is in the chai base.  In fact, if you were to get a tall black tea soy latte, you would save 70 calories and 14 grams (three and a half teaspoons) of added sugar.

    A daily soy chai latte is a sugar overload.  You are better off considering it a treat and having no more than two (in tall sizes only!) as a treat.

    On your soy chai latte days, though, be more aware of your sugar consumption (i.e.: replace a pastry with whole wheat toast, and skip dessert after your meals).

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    Fat, Sugar, and Calorie Overload (On The Rocks)

    As temperatures rise, sweaters are replaced by short-sleeves, steaming cups of coffee by frosty concoctions that perfectly combat the sun’s powerful rays. But, wait, be sure to make the right choice when seeking out that iced beverage.

    Many special coffeehouse drinks come with outrageous amounts of calories, fat, and sugar.

    If a Starbucks Frappuccino is calling your name, consider the following statistics:

    A tall coffee frappuccino with no whipped cream comes in at 200 calories, 1.5 grams of cholesterol-raising saturated fat (8% of the maximum amount recommended) and 33 grams (8 teaspoons) of sugar.

    A grande caramel frapuccino with whipped cream and caramel provides you with 390 calories, 10 grams (50%) of saturated fat, and 46 grams (11 1/2 teaspoons) of sugar.

    Curious about a Venti? Let’s look at a strawberries and creme blended frappuccino with whipped cream of that size. That would come out to 750 calories, 8.5 grams (45%) of saturated fat, and 117 grams (29 1/4 teaspoons!) of sugar.

    I’m afraid Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t fare much better.

    Their Vanilla Bean coolatta contains 450 calories, 15 grams (75%) of saturated fat, and 73 grams (18 1/4) teaspoons of sugar.

    Your absolute best bet is to order an iced latte — just coffee and milk (a grande with non-fat milk provides 200 calories, 0 grams of saturated fat, and only naturally-occurring sugars found in milk). You really can’t go wrong.

    After all, if coffee and milk are sufficient during the winter months, why must that turn into liquid candy when the temperature goes above 70?

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