What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you wake up in the morning? For me, it’s coffee. The promise of that warm, familiar drink is all I need to get out of bed. Once thought of as an unhealthy choice, the health benefits of coffee are now fairly well documented – from increasing brain power to improving athletic performance. But this time of year, the potential super-drink often gets flooded with some not-so-super ingredients. Read on to find out how your favorite seasonal coffee drink stacks up, and how to pick the smartest options.
Along with the holidays, comes the return of festive flavored coffee drinks like the Pumpkin Spice Latte, Gingerbread Latte, and Peppermint Mocha. Sipping on these seasonal flavors can definitely get you in the holiday spirit – but it will cost you hundreds of extra calories of fat and sugar. For example, a 16-oz peppermint mocha will typically run you over 400 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 54 grams of added sugars. 54 grams! That’s almost 13 teaspoons of sugar in one coffee. A better option would be the light version of this drink, made with skim milk and sugar-free syrup. Or try something different, like an Americano, Flat White, or Cappuccino, and sprinkle on some cinnamon and nutmeg to give it a seasonal spin.
More into the cold blended coffee? The typical 16-oz frozen coffee drink with seasonal flavors like caramel, peppermint, or mocha will also run you over 400 calories (the ice, unfortunately, does not take up that much space). With ingredients like whole milk, sweet syrups, and whipped cream, the fat and sugar content of these drinks is high. That can leave you feeling sluggish and foggy, rather than energized. If you’re craving something cold and sweet, try a non-fat iced latte with a sugar-free sweetener instead. You’ll get the pick-me-up of coffee, and the protein, calcium, and vitamin D of milk – without all the excess fat and sugar.
Didn’t mention something you like here? You can find nutritional information for most popular coffee chains right on their websites. So take a peek before heading out and plan your healthier order ahead of time. Enjoy the season!