Coffee is a great way to get the day started, we agree! In fact, in moderate amounts, consuming caffeine may actually reduce the risk of heart disease and offer other health benefits.

Starbucks is the largest coffee chain in the world, with 32,000+ stores globally! While for most of us, Starbucks is a trusted coffee spot for good morning coffee or coffee meetings, most of us are unfamiliar with what’s hiding in our Starbucks Coffee. In this article, we will take a look at the nutritional values of some of the most popular and widely consumed Starbucks drinks. Sorry to spoil Starbucks for you, but the detailed analyses presented below will echo one clear point:

Starbucks is a DESSERT store with options for coffee.

But don’t worry; we won’t completely spoil Starbucks for you. We will give you a step-by-step guide on how to make Starbucks healthy.

What are Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) values and why should you care about it?​

To understand the potential harmful health effects of Starbucks coffee, first, we need to understand the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) values for certain nutrients. RDAs are the levels of intake of essential nutrients that, on the basis of scientific knowledge, as judged by the Food and Nutrition Board to be adequate to meet the known nutrient needs of practically all healthy persons. Following dietary guidelines can protect you against many chronic non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Let’s look at someone of the dietary guidelines:

1. Calories are the general unit to assess human food consumption. The food we eat turns into energy that helps our body to function. The recommended daily calorie intake for an average adult male is 2500 calories and for average adult female 2000 calories, as per the FDA as well as a European Commission report. 

2. Daily added sugar intake recommended by the Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) is 10% of total calories per day. The recommended daily calorie intake is 2000 calories for women and 2500 for men. This makes the recommended daily sugar intake 200-250 calories or about 50-64 grams. 

3. According to the FDA, the safe upper limit for caffeine is about 400mg (approx. 4 or 5 cups of coffee).

4. The FDA recommends 78g of total fat daily, based on a 2000 calorie daily diet.

Let’s analyze some of Starbucks’ most popular drinks and compare their nutritional values with the recommended daily allowance of some of the nutrients:

1. Signature Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream

The drink is made from steamed milk and mocha sauce. These are topped with sweetened whipped cream and a chocolate-flavored drizzle.

Why is it unhealthy? This Starbucks favorite has 527 calories (A Big Mac has 508 calories), 30.7 g of fat, and 18.8g of saturated fat. It has 47.4 g of added sugar, which is about all of your daily recommended intake in your grande cup. The daily allowance of sugar is 50 g for an average adult. A Grande of this drink is ¼ of the 2000 calorie recommended daily diet.

To give you a better perspective, let’s compare this drink with a pint of ice cream. An average pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream contains around 1000 calories and 82 g of sugars. That’s half a pint in your Grande cup.

2. White Chocolate Mocha with Whipped Cream

It might taste delicious, but we wouldn’t recommend it if you’re looking for that healthy glow from regular exercise.

Why is it unhealthy? Packed with 59.1g of sugar, it exceeds the average daily recommended sugar intake by 18.2%. This hot Starbucks drink has 18.4 g of fat and 12.3 g of saturated fats. The 475 ml cup packs 471 calories.

It’s better to try the regular Caffe Mocha instead if you’re really craving a Mocha.

3. Strawberry and crème Frappuccino with Whipped Cream

It is a blend of ice milk and strawberry puree. This is layered on a splash of strawberry puree finished with vanilla-flavored whipped cream.

Why is it unhealthy? It may have strawberry puree in it but we won’t recommend it as one of your 5-a-day. It contains 65.6 g of sugar. That’s 100% of your today’s recommended sugar intake, plus about one-third of tomorrow’s daily added sugar intake you’re consuming in a single drink! That sweet flavor has 403 calories, 8.5 g of saturated fat, and 13.6 g of fat.

4. Mocha Frappuccino with Whipped Cream

Why is it unhealthy? This frozen drink is packed with 361 calories, 8.5 g of saturated fat, and 13.7 g of fat. Packed with a tad bit more (54.1g) than your daily recommended added sugar intake in one cup.

5. Caffe Mocha with Whipped Cream

It’s an espresso with bittersweet mocha sauce and steamed milk. The toping is mostly sweetened whipped cream.

Why is it unhealthy? This hot delight is slightly less sugary (32.9g) than the #4 on the list. It has 19g of fat and 8.4 g of saturated fat. That’s about 35% of the daily fat allowance recommended by the FDA.

A note about Whipped Cream:

Whipped cream is a standard topping in a lot of Starbucks drinks. It enhances the taste, but that comes with a lot of costs, and we’re not talking about the financial ones.

A Grande cup has whipped cream equivalent to 110 calories. This amount of cream has 11 grams of fat, of which 7.0 grams is saturated fat. That means your cup of coffee contains 35% of recommended daily intake of saturated fats.

For those with cholesterol problems, it’s important to note that the cream topping has 40 mg of cholesterol. That’s more than 13% of recommended daily intake.

A note about caffeine:

Healthy adults shouldn’t consume more than 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day. The average caffeine content of an 8-oz brewed cup of coffee is 95 mg. However, for most of 

A note about sugar:

The daily recommended amount of added sugar is 4-6 tablespoons (50-64 grams). As we saw above, a large number of Starbucks drinks have 100% of Sugar RDA, and some have amounts exceeded RDA in one cup! Consuming too much added sugar leads to obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes, and increases the risk of heart diseases.

How to make your Starbucks Drinks Healthier

Healthier Alternatives at Starbucks:

Try out these less calorie and less-sugar options at Starbucks, which still taste good, but importantly, will help you maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle. These drinks have less sugar, fats, and calories, making them a much healthier solution for your caffeine needs.

1. The new standard Cappuccino

It only contains 100 calories, 9g of sugars, and 75 mg of caffeine—a better alternative to cut down on sugar intake.

2. Caffe Americano

With only 15 calories, 0 g fat, and 0 sugars, this one’s a great caffeine kick!

3. Hot Brewed Teas

It has 0 calories, hard to believe, right. Here’s the best part, it contains zero sugars and fat and 40 mg caffeine boost to jumpstart your day.

More ways to make your Starbucks drinks healthier:

Here are some tips to make your Starbucks drink healthier:

1. The Sweeteners

You can use cinnamon or Stevia instead of white sugar or syrups to get a great flavor. These are available at the milk stations.

2. Alternative milk

Starbucks uses whole milk unless you order otherwise. The stores offer 2% milk, no-fat milk, coconut milk, soy milk, and almond milk as well. If you opt for the almond mil instead of the whole milk, you’ll cut back on 80 calories over your cup of coffee.

3. Easy on the pumps

A Grande cup has four pumps of syrup. You can customize your drink as you wish. We’d recommend fewer pumps for less sugar and reduced calorie intake.

4. Don't fall for the Whipped Cream.

A tall cup has a standard whipped cream serving. It contains 8 grams of fat and 82 calories. You can ask the barista to skip the topping or give you a lite whip.

5. Size matters!

Nutrients and calories can differ as much as by 5 times between small and venti sizes of the same drink. For instance, Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte with whole milk and whipped cream has 450 calories, whereas Short Cinnamon Dolce Latte with non-fat milk and no whipped cream has just 100 calories. Venti Caramel Frappuccino has 470 calories, compared to Short Caramel Frappuccino with non-fat milk and no whipped cream with just 180 calories.

Want a full list of complete calories, sugar, fat, and other nutrient information for every Starbucks drink? Get it here..

While Starbucks drinks are loaded with caffeine, sugar, carbohydrates, and calories, almost all of these drinks are missing other essential nutrients, including fibers and micronutrients.

• Fibers

The FDA recommends 25 grams of dietary fiber intake daily. Whereas Starbucks drinks have 0% fibers in them.

Fiber deficiency can cause irregular bowel movement, constipation, and blood sugar fluctuations.

• Iron

The Daily Value of Iron, according to the FDA, is 18mg. Standard Starbucks drinks provide 0% iron.

Iron deficiency is a major contributor to anemia as well as cognitive impairments. 

• Vitamin A and C

A lot of Starbucks drinks have 0% or very minimum vitamin A & C of Daily Value.  The Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin A is 3000 IU for adult males and 2333 IU for adult females. For Vitamin C, the Recommended Intake is 75 mg for females and 90 mg for males.

Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of blindness, diarrhea, measles, and other infections. Vitamin C deficiency can cause irritability, anorexia, poor wound healing, gingival swelling with loss of teeth, mucocutaneous petechiae, ecchymosis, and hyperkeratosis.

What MolVeda Recommends:

1. Choose healthy alternatives at Starbucks over some of the most popular and widely consumed drinks, such as Signature Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream.

2. To reduce the load of sugar and calories, customize your drinks with lesser pumps of syrup.

3. Opt for smaller sizes, although just a couple of extra bucks for Venti sounds too tempting.

4. Skip the toppings, including whipped cream, if you can.

5. Be mindful of your caffeine intake for better physical and mental health!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top