Walking into a Starbucks and looking at the menu, it’s impossible not to crave their delectable, whipped cream-topped items. Sometimes you’re just there to get some caffeine, but other times it feels right to just treat yourself to a super-sweet drink to brighten your day. You weren’t trying to start your day with a blood sugar bomb. But a pastry and a latte later, you’re in sugar crash city.
There are healthy options at Starbucks, however. You just have to know what to order if you want to avoid all the syrups and cream.
Starbucks’ menu is extensive. Since we weren’t sure what kind of drink you intended to order from Starbucks, we included healthy and unhealthy options from different areas of the menu. Whether you’re a fan of tea, coffee, or the milkshake-like Frappuccino, we have your back.
All of the items on this list are right off the menu — no ordering with a million modifications and risking a mix-up from the barista. Taking into consideration the sugar, calories, and fat from each menu item, here are the healthiest and unhealthiest drinks you can order.
No, we don’t mean their Green Tea Latte. Starbucks has a wide selection of brewed teas for you to order, ranging from Jade Citrus to Youthberry. Some teas can help settle your stomach while others might be able to cure your cold (if you use this secret Starbucks hack). They also carry plain black and green teas, both of which come with health benefits of their own. Tea can make you more creative, give you antioxidants, and preserve your vision. Just make sure you don’t drink it while it’s too hot — that might actually give you cancer!
There’s been some debate over whether coffee is healthy or not — but there are lots of valid health reasons to drink more coffee. It’s packed with antioxidants and can lower your risk of disease and other health complications. Of course, most of these benefits are from black coffee. Once you start adding things in, like sugar and creamer, you’re compromising the low-calorie quality of the beverage. These are the healthiest and unhealthiest creamers for your reference, so you can know what you’re putting in your cup.
An Americano is two to three rich, dark espresso shots topped off with steaming-hot water. This drink is 15 calories and has zero sugar. Espresso can be bitter, so this order is not for the faint of heart. But Starbucks did recently debut a new Blonde Espresso, which reportedly tastes smoother and less bitter; so perhaps order your Americano with Blonde Espresso.
Some of Starbucks’ “shaken” tea beverages are doctored with tons of added sugar and, as a consequence, calories. And while the Shaken Iced Black Tea and Shaken Iced Green Tea both do have sugar — 11 grams in a grande — they have less than 50 calories each.
Cold Foam is Starbuck’s newest innovation — and it tastes delightful. Foam used to be reserved for hot beverages, never before poured over ice. But the smaller amount of foam required for an iced beverage means that the Cold Foam Cascara Cold Brew has fewer calories and grams of fat than your typical latte. “Cascara” is the all-natural sweetener used to flavor the foam. It comes from the fruit of a coffee plant and tastes similar to maple or brown sugar. That’s healthier than any artificial sweetener in their “Skinny” drinks.
Choose your Refresher wisely — some of them are so sugary they’re basically fruity cocktails sans the booze. But this one keeps it relatively low in added sugar, only adding up to 14 grams in a grande. That might seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to Starbucks’ other sugary beverages. The grande has 60 calories and has a good amount of caffeine from green coffee extract.
You can’t go wrong with a classic latte. Espresso topped with foamy milk — heaven in a cup. You can go overboard on the fat and calories, however, if you use whole milk. Switch to skim or 2 percent if you’re watching your intake. You can also request plant-based milks, all of which are lower in calories than cow’s milk, for this latte. Ordering your grande Caffè Latte with almond milk instead of 2 percent shaves 90 calories off your order.
While a Caffè Mocha is actually one of the unhealthiest drinks at Starbucks, the Iced Skinny Mocha is actually fairly healthy. It’s sweetened with sucralose (that’s the stuff used to make Splenda), so as long as you’re okay with that you’re good to go. A grande has 120 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, and 8 grams of sugar.
Unlike blended beverages and lattes, this drink is only topped off with cream and sugar — not loaded with it. As a result, the grande only has 110 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 14 grams of sugar, all without having to resort to low-fat milk or artificial sweeteners. You’re getting the real stuff — cream, sugar, and all. Just less of it.
Frappuccino’s aren’t exactly known for their healthy attributes — that much you know. Some of the calorie counts on those things are downright insane. But if you must have one, this is your healthiest option. Ordering it “light” means you won’t get any whipped cream, but if you’re willing to sacrifice that, this is your best choice. A grande manages to only contain 110 calories — that’s less than a latte — and 23 grams of sugar. It’s made with nonfat milk and a mix of artificial sweetener, so you can expect a thinner consistency and a bit of an aftertaste.
Don’t let the word “smoothie” fool you. While smoothies can sometimes taste like dessert and still be healthy (if you make them right), this one does not make the cut. One order contains 320 calories and 34 grams of sugar. Sure, some of that sugar is from banana — but most is from the syrupy sauce blended into the drink. To this smoothie’s credit, it does have 20 grams of protein. So after sipping, you won’t be hungry 10 minutes later like you might be with other smoothies.
It looks like dessert, tastes like dessert, has a name of dessert… But it’s coffee! And therefore it’s totally appropriate to sip with breakfast, right? Wrong. It’s dessert. Actually, this drink has more sugar than most dessert foods. There are 41 grams of sugar in this latte, accompanying 340 calories and 13 grams of fat.
Rich, thick, chocolatey goodness is waiting in every sip of this espresso beverage — probably because of all the sugar and fat used to make it. A grande with 2 percent milk and whipped cream (the default when you order) contains 360 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 35 grams of sugar.
This delightful winter treat is no small load on your diet. It’s got more sugar than most servings of ice cream — 43 grams in a grande. Additionally, there are 400 calories and 16 grams of fat. The whipped cream only adds 80 of those calories; ordering yours without won’t save you much.
Every year, people are on the edge of their seats in September waiting for the release of Starbucks’ most famous seasonal latte: Pumpkin Spice. This latte and other seasonal varieties like Gingerbread, Maple Pecan, and the newest Winter Juniper Latte, all sound and taste delightful. However, they are loaded with sugar. Some even have more sugar than seven doughnuts.
Of all the lattes on Starbucks’ menu, this is the worst for your diet. The White Chocolate Mocha, made with 2 percent milk and topped with whipped cream, has 430 calories, 18 grams of fat, and an insane 53 grams of sugar if you get a Grande. You can blame that on the four generous pumps of sticky, sweet syrup used to make the latte. There’s actually more syrup than espresso in this “espresso beverage.”
Frappuccinos are almost always loaded with fat, sugar, and calories — with the exception of the Coffee Light Frappuccino, listed as one of the healthiest Starbucks drinks on this list. The top four absolute unhealthiest drinks at Starbucks are all Frappuccinos. The grande size of the Caramel Cocoa Cluster Frappuccino, made with whole milk and topped with whipped cream, contains 450 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 68 grams of sugar.
You might as well just eat actual red velvet cake. A grande with whole milk and whipped cream has 480 calories, 18 grams of fat, and 70 grams of sugar.
This got its ranking from the insanely high calorie count: 520 calories in a grande with whole milk and whipped cream. It’s also got 64 grams of sugar — the recommended daily limit of added sugars is 25 grams.
Our minds were blown at the amount of sugar they managed to squeeze inside a grande-sized cup. Eighty-five grams of sugar. This drink will also deliver 510 calories, all dusted with a nice layer of cinnamon and sugar. Delicious, but definitely not healthy. But you knew that when you ordered it! Though you might not have known these other little-known facts about Starbucks.
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