On a cold Winter’s day what can be more satisfying than walking into your local coffee shop chain, sitting down and enjoying a lovely warm Frappuccino, hot chocolate or low fat semi skimmed latte with a few shots of hazelnut syrup (the healthier low fat version!).

A weekly treat or a daily must have?

Either way you may be shocked to know that one single sugary beverage can contain up to 95 grams of sugar!

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That is over three times the recommended 30 gram intake of sugar per day!

And equivalent to eating four of those famous chocolate bars named after a planet in our solar system, which contains 25 grams of sugar.

Going small instead of large can help with the average sugar content of the smaller beverages being roughly 20 grams although some are still almost 50 grams.

Don’t forget the sides

If along with your lovely milky drink you then add in a nice treat such as a muffin, Bakewell or brownie we then go into mega sugar land with an additional 35 – 40 grams of sugar!

If this isn’t bad enough, how about the calories. Go large, full fat, 4-5 pumps of mocha syrup with a nice pastry on the side and we are probably up to 1000 calories. Do this 3-4 times a week and that could be an extra pound a week you could be gaining!

So where is all this sugar coming from?

Some sugar admittedly is lactose – the sugar within milk which in a latte may be 10 grams for a small and 20 grams if you go large – but most is coming from the chocolate in hot chocolate, syrups such as mocha and hazelnut and the variety of sprinkles for example chocolate, caramel and marshmallow.

sugary hot drinks_2Each pump of syrup can be 5 grams of sugar or 20 calories each.

So if calories are not an issue what is the problem?

Develop type 2 diabetes: high sugar intakes can lead to elevated insulin levels which may promote the development of type 2 diabetes.

Become resistant to insulin: Uptake of amino acids by muscle to maintain and build muscle is assisted by insulin. If cells become resistant to insulin, as can occur with diets high in sugar, our muscle building and maintaining ability may be impaired.

Hormonal issues and acne have been linked with high insulin levels.

Risk of developing gallstones: this appears to be higher in those with high sugar intakes. It is estimated that 40 grams of sugar per day (or possibly 1 large vanilla Frappuccino) doubles your risk of developing gallstones.

So next time they ask what you would like to order, think of those ‘four well known chocolate bars’ when deciding how many pumps you should add to your hazelnut latte and whether to add chocolate topping or not.

If you want that caffeine-kick why not go for a straight Americano, any size, zero sugar. Or an espresso macchiato with less than 1 gram of sugar. If you want something tall and warming to grip onto then why not try one of a variety of fruit teas now available in most coffee chains.

Connect with Expert Susan Brough.

References available on request.

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