If you are considering a health-related New Year’s resolution take a look your favorite coffee shop beverage. Coffee, tea, and fruit smoothies sound harmless but what’s in them might surprise you. We are not focusing on money this week, but a $4 a day beverage habit costs you almost $1,500 in a year!
The three ingredients we are most concerned about with beverages are caffeine, sugar and fat.
Caffeine For most people, 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day (the amount in 1 ½ to 3 cups of coffee, 4-6 cups of tea or 4-8 cups of soft drink) won’t cause negative effects. The exceptions are pregnant women who should use caffeine sparingly and breast-feeding women who should avoid caffeine, as it can pass into breast milk.
If you feel you are consuming too much caffeine and are experiencing anxiety, nervousness and digestive problems, try these ideas to cut back your consumption:
- Mix half regular and half decaf coffee.
- Choose herbal teas.
- Cut back on caffeinated sodas.
Sugar The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugars a day and that men consume no more than nine.
To put that into context…
- A twelve-ounce vanilla latte can have 33 grams (about 8 teaspoons) of sugar.
- A medium chai tea latte can have 50 grams (about 13 teaspoons) of sugar.
- A mango pineapple smoothie has 47 grams (about 12 teaspoons) of sugar.
- Plain coffee and tea have no sugar.
Fat Plain coffee and tea do not contain fat, but many coffee beverages have a great deal of fat added. Here is some info to help you make the best decision for you:
- If you choose a latte that includes one cup of whole milk you will be drinking 8 grams of fat. If your coffee shop adds whipped cream that will likely add another 8 grams of fat (based on an approximate coffee shop serving).
- Choosing non-fat (skim) milk for your beverages adds high quality protein and calcium, which we need for bone health, without the added fat of whole milk and cream.
So what’s the bottom line? Plain tea and coffee have very few calories. If you want to keep your beverage calorie intake very low, add non-fat (skim) milk and non-calorie sweetener to it yourself. If you prefer to have the coffee shop dress up your coffee for you, make sure you let them know your preferences. You can request skim milk and lower-sugar flavorings.
For more tips check out the suggestions at eXtension’s Ordering Healthy Drinks at the Coffee Shop.