Nearly all of the flavored hot drinks sold at major coffee chains — Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and McDonald’s — contain so much sugar that they should be considered health hazards.
That’s the latest word from a British health advocacy group, Action on Sugar, that analyzed 131 flavored hot drinks such as latte coffees, chai teas, and mulled fruit drinks. The researchers found that 98 percent of the beverages contained excessive amounts of sugar.
The single worst offender: Starbucks’ hot mulled fruit grape with chai, orange, and cinnamon. This yummy concoction contains a whopping 25 teaspoons of sugar — nearly three times as many as a single can of Coke.
The American Heart Association recommends a maximum daily sugar intake of nine teaspoons for most American men and six teaspoons for most American women.
In other words: For most adults, a single serving of Starbucks’ sweet pick-me-up contains about three times the amount of sugar that can be safely consumed in an entire day.
In response to the report, Starbucks has vowed to reduce the sugar content of such “indulgent drinks” by 25 percent by the year 2020. But, in the meantime, consumers need to be aware of that many drinks on the market are jacked with the sweet stuff — too much of which is linked to a wide variety of mental and physical maladies.
“The body needs glucose, but very very little,” explains Dr. Richard Jacoby, a peripheral nerve surgeon based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and author of the book “Sugar Crush: How to Reduce Inflammation, Reverse Nerve Damage, and Reclaim Good Health.”
“The thesis of my book is that sugar is a poison, we’re eating too much of it, and it’s changing the biochemistry of our nerves.”
According to Jacoby, excessive sugar consumption is the root cause of all neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, Bell’s palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, and multiple sclerosis.
Research also shows that sugar plays a key role in the development cardiovascular disease and may inflame the lining of the coronary arteries.
“Fat doesn’t cause heart disease and neither does cholesterol,” Jacoby says. “Sugar causes heart disease because it irritates the lining so that cholesterol sticks to it like Velcro.”
In addition, excessive sugar consumption promotes the formation and spread of cancer, he says, because cancer cells need high amounts of glucose.
In recent years, health campaigns against sugar have become increasingly vocal.
Action on Sugar — a consortium of doctors, nutritionists, public health specialists, and other experts — organizes a yearly “Sugar Awareness Week” to educate the public about the hidden sugar in everyday food and how to reduce their dietary intake of sugar.
The group’s latest report shows that an astounding 35 percent of hot flavored drinks contain at least as much sugar as a can of Coca-Cola, which equates to an unhealthy nine teaspoons per serving.
Although Action on Sugar’s new report focuses on the drinks sold by nine major coffee-shop and food chains in the United Kingdom, its results are generally applicable to other countries where millions of workers rely on such drinks to kick-start their days.
In the United States, information published on company Websites reveal that many popular hot flavored drinks contain dangerously high amounts of sugar. Here are some examples:
- Starbucks. The chain’s vanilla latte and caramel macchiato specialty drinks contain more than eight teaspoons of sugar each.
- Dunkin’ Donuts. The donut and coffee shop’s vanilla chai beverage is loaded with more than 11 teaspoons of sugar; its hot macchiato has seven teaspoons.
- McDonald’s. A large mocha from the Golden Arches will get you 11 teaspoons of sugar.
In the short term, quick ingestion of large amounts of sugar from a hot flavored drink causes an immediate spike in blood sugar, which is why these drinks make us feel so good. Unfortunately, the high doesn’t last because the pancreas produces extra insulin to normalize blood sugar.
About an hour after chugging such a beverage, most of us experience a sugar crash, which causes unpleasant symptoms such as sweatiness, disorientation, and even a rapid heartbeat. To counteract the crash, people often reach for calorie-rich snacks such as donuts.
In the long-term, daily consumption of sugary drinks can make you gain up to 22 pounds in just 10 years, a recent study found. Some of this fat may settle just below your skin. But much of it may accumulate around your liver and other internal organs, where it produces inflammatory chemicals and hormones.
Weight gain alone can drastically increase the risk of developing diabetes. If you combine that with decades of sugar-induced stress on the pancreas, it can add up to a life-threatening case.
To reduce the risk of sugar-related illnesses, Action on Sugar advises consumers to think of hot flavored drinks as an “occasional treat” instead of an “everyday drink” — akin to a large dessert treat.
If you need a daily pick-me-up, it’s healthier to switch to unsweetened coffee or tea.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.