The Health Behind the Starbucks Holiday

Courtesy of Starbucks Stories and News

By Angela Hickey

You know Christmas is just around the corner when Starbucks switches out their regular selection in favor of their more seasonal beverages. People love to celebrate the holiday season with these festive drinks, but people can’t help but wonder, even though they’re good, does that also mean they’re good for you?

The holiday menu at Starbucks is extensive, and it all sounds very delicious. From Peppermint Mochas to Eggnog Lattes, everything on the menu sounds pretty irresistible and difficult to say no to. But when you look past the decorated cups and bright red signs, it’s hard to believe that these drinks don’t have some serious health risks. 

The official Starbucks website provides a nutrition master list specifically for their holiday selection, and all of the various toppings that come with them. With the multiple variations that these drinks can be ordered in, the list became quite extensive. From whipped cream toppings down to the type of milk you want, any and all combinations can become a recipe for disaster.

Since the holiday drinks are quite a best seller, People Magazine was able to break down the lengthy list of festive beverages in order to reveal how high the calorie count truly is. The highest calorie drink on the list was the Peppermint Mocha Latte, coming in at 440 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 54 grams of sugar. With the Juniper Latte considered the lowest on the list at only 260 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 35 grams of sugar, which, even compared to conventional drinks, is still considered very high, and that’s not even counting any alterations you make to the order. 

According to a study done by Health.com, a tall Peppermint Mocha made with the default 2% milk and all of the usual add-ins—espresso, peppermint syrup, mocha sauce, whipped cream, and chocolate curls— calculates to 350 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 42 grams of sugar. 

“That’s four candy canes’ worth of sugar, or 10 teaspoons, which is four more than the American Heart Association’s recommended cap of six per day for women,” said article writer and nutritionist, Cynthia Sass.

Sass stated that out of all the variations she’s tried, the healthiest drink on the list would have to be a tall Praline latte with almond milk, a single pump of syrup, and no toppings, which doesn’t sound as appealing as the full drink itself. But, I sincerely doubt that sugar content and calorie count will stop people from consuming the drinks that taste like the complete essence of the holidays in a single cup.

Now, I’m not telling you to boycott Starbucks’ holiday selection, I only advise restraint. For the average college student and a good chunk of the human population, daily coffee is a norm, but your daily coffee should only give you a caffeine buzz, not a sugar high. 

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