What Nutritionists Think About Starbucks’ Three New Plant-Based Drinks
By Cathy Cassata
Are you getting your fill of Starbucks' new Almondmilk Honey Flat White, Oatmilk Honey Latte, and Coconutmilk Latte, but wondering just how healthy they are?
Celebrity chef and spokesperson for DayTwo, Devin Alexander said if you're trying to lose weight, or watch your sugar intake or the amount of caffeine you consume, staying away from these is your best bet.
"I generally don't believe it's the best idea to consume a significant number of calories via beverages," she told Healthline.
Because the American Heart Association recommends that women consume only 25 grams of sugar in a day and men consume only 36 grams, she said these drinks can put you over the limit or close to it.
The 16-ounce Almondmilk Honey Flat White contains 24 grams of sugar, the Oatmilk Honey Latte has 28 grams, and the Coconutmilk Latte has 12 grams.
As far as caffeine goes, the 16-ounce or Grande-sized drinks for all three beverages contain more caffeine than many energy drinks.
"Red Bull contains 111 mg while Rockstar contains between 160 and 240 mg of caffeine per can. Two of these three [Starbucks] drinks contain 150 mg while the other contains 195 mg," said Alexander.
Despite all this, if you still plan to try the drinks as a pick-me-up or treat, she said to go with the 8-ounce option.
Here's what nutritionists have to say about each of these new menu items.
Almondmilk Honey Flat White
"You know what you are getting with this drink. Since it is [mostly] made from almond milk with a touch of honey, the added sugar content isn't very high when compared to many coffee drinks. The combination of almond milk, espresso, and honey make this plant-based drink without large amounts of saturated fat that can hide inside many similar drinks made with cream or whole milk," said Palinski-Wade.
Still, she said the honey blend adds sugar and a Tall (12 oz) drink packs 120 calories — more calories and added sugars than black coffee.
Alexander agrees, noting that there are about 16 grams of sugar in 1 tablespoon of honey.
"Based on the ingredients [listed], Starbucks is using sweetened almond milk in the drink. [Stating it has] 'a hint of honey' doesn't suggest at least a tablespoon. Though in order to taste it amidst espresso, you would need a significant amount to create a honey flavor at all," she said.
Oatmilk Honey Latte
With 200 calories and 32 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving, this drink contains the highest level of calories, added sugar, and fat of the three choices.
However, Palinski-Wade said the plant-based drink is low in saturated fat and contains a source of fiber.
"The addition of oat does provide a source of fiber, however with just 2 grams, the filling fiber won't offset the excess calories provided by the sugar in the drink. The addition of the honey topping along with the honey blend drive up both the calories and added sugar," she said.
To cut down on the sugar level, she said opt to remove the honey topping and ask for the drink to have one Honey Blend instead of two.
The 12-ounce Tall size of this drink contains only 3 ingredients and provides 100 calories.
While this drink is lower in calories than many coffee drinks and provides a vegan-friendly option for people looking to add more plant-based foods and drinks to their diet, Palinski-Wade warned the amount of saturated fat in this drink is worth noting.
"The level of saturated fat is higher than other plant-based beverages due to the coconut. Each serving contains 5 grams of saturated fat, which should be moderated in those looking to improve blood lipid levels," she said.
Because the drink contains a significant level of added sugar from the coconut milk and flavorings, she said it's best to consider it a treat versus an everyday or multiple times a day indulgence.
Alexander added that while the Coconutmilk Latte is the most sensible of the three, it doesn't add any nutritional value.
"There is virtually no protein, half the carbs come from sugar, and there are 7 grams of saturated fat [in the 16 oz]," she said.
For comparison, she notes that in her "The Biggest Loser Cookbooks," her meals needed to have 3 grams of saturated fat or under, and in her diabetes-friendly cookbook "You Can Have It," meals had a max of 2.5 grams of saturated fat.
"At least if someone who loved this combo were to order a Short (8 ounces), it wouldn't be too detrimental [with 3.5 grams of saturated fat]," she said.
The good news for Starbucks lovers is that the brand offers many options that are lighter in calories and sugar compared to these three drinks, said Alexander.
However, she suggested looking to beverages outside of the coffee house for truly healthier alternatives.
"There are amazing drinks out there that are sweetened with zero calorie natural sweeteners, and there are even numerous brands of honey/stevia blends and honey/monk fruit blends which would allow someone to recreate these drinks for a fraction of the calories and sugars — the sugar is my biggest concern," she said.
Palinski-Wade agreed, reiterating that the three plant-based beverages should be consumed occasionally.
"They are still sugar-sweetened beverages. However, when compared to many other sugar-sweetened beverages and coffee drinks, the Almondmilk and Coconutmilk drinks are lower in calories and added sugars," she said.
Reposted with permission from Healthline.
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The Hedonometer measures happiness through analysis of key words on Twitter, which is now used by one in five Americans. This chart covers 18 months from early 2019 to July 2020, showing major dips in 2020. hedonometer.org<p>These same tweets also indicate a potential salve. Before pandemic lockdowns began, doctoral student <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=0P0ZYbIAAAAJ&hl=en" target="_blank">Aaron Schwartz</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10045" target="_blank">compared tweets before, during, and after visits to 150 parks, playgrounds and plazas</a> in San Francisco. He found that park visits corresponded with a spike in happiness, followed by an afterglow lasting up to four hours.</p><p>Tweets from parks contained fewer negative words such as "no," "not" and "can't," and fewer first-person pronouns like "I" and "me." It seems that nature makes people more positive and less self-obsessed.</p><p>Parks keep people happy in times of global crisis, economic shutdown and public anger. Research has also shown that transmission rates for COVID-19 are <a href="https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Is-risk-of-coronavirus-transmission-lower-15287602.php" target="_blank">much lower outdoors than inside</a>. As scholars who study <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=yFzb2EUAAAAJ&hl=en" target="_blank">conservation</a> and how nature <a href="https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=CCnUeN8AAAAJ&hl=en" target="_blank">contributes to human well-being</a>, we see opening up parks and creating new ones as a straightforward remedy for Americans' current blues.</p>
Park Visits Are Up During the Pandemic<p>According to the Hedonometer, sentiments expressed online started trending lower in mid-March as the impacts of the pandemic became clear. As lockdowns continued, they registered the lowest sentiment scores on record. Then in late May, effects from George Floyd's death in police custody and the following protests and police response once again could be seen on Twitter. May 31, 2020 was the saddest day of the project.</p><p>Recent surveys of park visitors around the University of Vermont have shown people <a href="https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/sd3h6" target="_blank">using green spaces more</a> since COVID-19 lockdowns began. Many people reported that parks were highly important to their well-being during the pandemic.</p>
<div id="4c7e4" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bc0ac146ab2a94228f32d973fc2ab272"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1289428912879964160" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">#Goldengatepark #sf #quarantinemood https://t.co/9l3ufnbkt6</div> — Suvd (@Suvd)<a href="https://twitter.com/Suvd19486406/statuses/1289428912879964160">1596258783.0</a></blockquote></div><p>The powerful effects of nature are strongest in large parks with more trees, but smaller neighborhood parks also provide a significant boost. Their impact on happiness is real, measurable and lasting.</p><p>Twitter records show that parks increase happiness to a level similar to the bounce at Christmas, which typically is the happiest day of the year. Schwartz has since expanded his <a href="https://arxiv.org/pdf/2006.10658.pdf" target="_blank">Twitter study</a> to the 25 largest cities in the U.S. and found this bounce everywhere.</p><p>Parks and public spaces won't cure COVID-19 or stop police brutality, but they are far more than playgrounds. There is growing evidence that parks contribute to mental and physical health in a range of communities.</p><p>In a 2015 study, for example, Stanford researchers sent people out for one of two walks: through a local park or on a busy street. Those who walked in nature showed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.005" target="_blank">improved moods and better memory performance</a> compared to the urban group. And a team led by <a href="https://penniur.upenn.edu/people/eugenia-gina-south" target="_blank">Gina South</a> of the University of Pennsylvania showed in a 2018 study that greening and cleaning up blighted vacant lots in Philadelphia <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0298" target="_blank">reduced local residents' feelings of depression, worthlessness and poor mental health</a>.</p>
Creative Strategies<p>It isn't easy to create new parks on the scale of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park or the Washington Mall, but smaller projects can expand outdoor space. Options include greening vacant lots, closing streets and investing in existing parks to make them safer, greener and shadier and support wildlife.</p><p>These initiatives don't have to be capital-intensive. In the University of Pennsylvania study, for example, renovating a vacant lot by removing trash, planting grass and trees and installing a low fence cost only about US$1,600.</p><p>Urban green space is most needed in neighborhoods that have lacked funding for parks, especially given <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/nyregion/coronavirus-race-deaths.html" target="_blank">COVID-19's disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx people</a>.</p><p>Cities can also create parklike spaces by <a href="https://theconversation.com/with-fewer-cars-on-us-streets-now-is-the-time-to-reinvent-roadways-and-how-we-use-them-140408" target="_blank">closing streets to cars</a>. Many cities worldwide are currently retooling their transportation systems for the post-COVID-19 world in order to <a href="https://thecityfix.com/blog/bicycles-slower-speeds-livable-city-paris-mayor-anne-hidalgo-plans-ambitious-second-term-dario-hidalgo/" target="_blank">reallocate public space</a>, widen sidewalks and make more space for nature.</p><p>Urban designers, artists, ecologists and other citizens can play a direct role, too, creating pop-up parks and green spaces. Some advocates <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-15/a-brief-history-of-park-ing-day" target="_blank">transform parking spaces into mini-parks</a> with grass, potted trees and seating for just the time on the meter, to make a larger point about turning so much public space over to cars.</p><p>Or cities can invest a little more. Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Arlington, Virginia, have won <a href="https://www.tpl.org/parkscore" target="_blank">national recognition</a> for their ambitious investments in public park systems. These areas could serve as models for neighborhoods that lack access to parks.</p>
<div id="25fd0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="383f0d2df0237e9359c30dcce6cd6c42"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1276558744835379201" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Looking to safely get outside? Check out the best parks for social distancing in this year's top ten ParkScore citi… https://t.co/HJjEtDsrTD</div> — The Trust for Public Land (@The Trust for Public Land)<a href="https://twitter.com/tpl_org/statuses/1276558744835379201">1593190296.0</a></blockquote></div>
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