How much sugar is in our hot drinks this Christmas?
Now it’s December, the official Christmas countdown can begin! My first sign of Christmas was the Red Cup billboard at Starbucks. With the launch of the Red Cup Christmas Marketing campaign, comes with it a list of new and tasty hot Christmas themed hot drinks. Whilst I generally tend to stick to a latte, I do find myself tempted to try at least one of the festive flavours, after all it is Christmas. Whilst waiting in the queue, watching my drink getting made, I realised that in actual fact the flavours are made by adding sugar syrups, which made me wonder, just how much sugar is in one of these cups? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to shame you for treating yourself, however as a chiropractor, I think it’s important to have everything in moderation.
So I’ve done some of the hard work for you, and decided to rank your favourite festive drinks by their nutritional value- just so you can then make an informed decision about how often to treat yourself to one of these.
Action on Sugar (http://www.actiononsugar.org/
1. Starbucks Signature Caramel Hot Chocolate, with whipped cream, using Oat Milk
93g of Sugar for a Venti ( equivalent to 23 teaspoons of sugar!)
By far the absolute worst offender for hot drinks! The sugar content is equivalent to eating 4 white chocolate muffins. What is interesting is that people often believe they are making the healthier choice by switching to oat milk (I do personally agree we should generally be eating a more plant based diet), however, consumers are often unaware that milk alternatives have a lot of added sugar. So, if like me, you are making changes to drink less milk, please do read the back of labels to check how much sugar has been added.
2. Caffe Nero Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate with Whipped cream
59.6g of sugar for a Grande (11 teaspoons of sugar)
All the added syrups and whipped cream means the calories and spoons of sugar quickly add up! This time, this drink was made with skimmed milk.
3. Starbucks Gingerbread Latte with Oat Milk
56.6g of sugar for a venti (14 teaspoons of sugar)
This is equivalent to eating 17 custard cream biscuits. If you choose to have your drinks with almond milk, instead of oat milk, it will reduce your sugar content by 4.5 teaspoons of sugar.
4. EAT Honeycomb Hot Chocolate
47g of sugar for a Regular (9.5 teaspoons of sugar)
I do love honeycomb, so I was personally quite sad (but not surprised!) to find this one at number 4. Again, the syrup is the main culprit to the high quantities of sugar.
5. Costa White Hot Chocolate
43.4g of sugar for a massimo (8.8 teaspoons of sugar)
White chocolate as we all know does contain a higher sugar content than dark or milk chocolate, so this didn’t surprise me too much that it’s scoring in the top 5.
6. Pret Hot Chocolate using rice – coconut milk
40.4g of sugar for a Regular (8.8 teaspoons of sugar)
Again, another milk alternative. Rice and coconut milks do tend to have a lot of added sugar.
7. Costa Hazelnut Praline & Cream Latte, using semi skimmed milk.
32.5g for a medio (6.5 teaspoons of sugar)
8. KFC Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate
29.3g of sugar for a Regular (6 teaspoons of sugar)
This one did not state what type of milk used, however interestingly it did contain the least amount of calories at 180 calories per serving (compare to the others coming in between 758 and 400)
9. Leon Hot Chocolate, using whole milk
17g of sugar for a regular ( 3.5 teaspoons of sugar)
Leon is the only chain that has brought in the lowest sugar content of all the high street coffee shops, and it was the only one that used whole milk (as far as we could tell without knowing KFC’s milk used).
The summary written by Action on Sugar identifies that the sugar in milk alternatives varies greatly. Oat milk comes in highest at 29.5g per 720ml portion, whilst almond milk is the lowest with 11g per 710ml portion.
Fundamentally the syrups that are added to the hot drinks make them very unhealthy and increase the sugar content greatly.
If you are making the switch to milk alternatives, be aware of added sugar to make sure you are not going over your daily recommended amount, but the best way to cut down on sugar is to not add syrups to your hot drinks (at least not on a regular basis!)