Coffee with your sugar?

Consider making your fall indugence a weekly, instead of daily, treat, suggests a UW Medicine dietitian.

It’s fall, which means the cinnamon, pumpkin, mocha drinks are front and center, enticing us to indulge in warm goodness. The allure may fade, though, in view of their caloric and sugar content.  

For example, a grande pumpkin spice latte from a certain famous coffee chain has 50 grams, or 12 teaspoons, of sugar. “I think that is a surprise for most people,” said Vanessa Imus, a registered dietitian at the UW Medicine Weight Loss Management Center.

[See downloadable video soundbites with Vanessa Imus.]

The recommended daily limit for a woman is 25 grams of sugar, or about six teaspoons.  If you’re a man, you get a bit more, 36 grams – still far below the amount in that one drink.

Whether you’re lining up for the pumpkin beverage, a Frappuccino, eggnog latte or mocha, Imus suggests making the drink a weekly treat, not a daily event.  These concoctions range from 300-500 calories, depending on size and accoutrements. One way to cut sugar intake is simply to reduce the drink size. Most coffee shops still carry 8-oz. cups, for instance.

And you can ask for less flavoring, Imus added. “Most don’t realize that baristas regularly put three to four pumps of flavoring in a drink. You can ask for half that amount or just have one.”

Some of her patients who have espresso machines at home make their own concoctions, using a puree of honey, cinnamon and pumpkin, she said.  

“It’s very unlikely you’re going to put 12 teaspoons of sugar in the drink.”

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