Food Truck Friday: Sugar

Image of 4 differntly shaped drinking glasses filled with sugar cubes

Image from UCSF.edu/news

It’s official…sugar can kill you, according to several articles recently published in the LA Times, Forbes, and USA Today. All three articles cite a new study  published early this week by the Journal of the American Medicine Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine (one of many studies published over the past few years).  The study concludes that there is a direct link between an increased risk for heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and dementia with the consumptions of foods with added sugar. It seems that sugar is responsible for more than America’s problem with obesity, something the paleo community (as well as others) have understood for quite sometime now.

What I found incredible was the volume of added sugars some study participants consumed in their daily diets. The group with the highest percentage of calories coming from added sugars was over 21.3%!!! The top two delivery methods for the added sugar are…soda and sugar sweetened beverages and grain based desserts! Like you didn’t already know this. Currently, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends  that women consume no more than 6 tsp a day (20 grams), which equals 100 calories; and men consume no more than 9 tsp a day (32 grams), which is 150 calories.

I decided to do a little informal research of my own. I randomly selected three (3) specialty drinks from Starbucks nutritional data online. I selected the specialty drinks because that is what most of my co-workers opt for on an almost daily basis. I know I can not say with certainty that this represents America in general, but it is the people I work with and therefore care about.

Here is the data I acquired*:

Beverage Total Calories Grams of Sugar % of Daily Allowance (women)
Very Berry Hibiscus Starbucks Refreshers™  60/70/100 11g/17g/21g 55%/85%/100.5%
Cappuccino 90/120/150 8g/10g/14g 40%/50%/70%
Caramel Frappuccino® 190/270/360 41g/59g/77g 205%/295%/385%

Now you may have went and checked out the data yourself and are thinking, “Hey, the nutritional data does not say anything close to 385%!” True, the labels tell consumers the percentage of carbohydrates they are getting, not the percentage of sugar. The FDA does not have a recommended amount of sugar, only carbohydrates. According to Starbucks’ nutritional data, a tall Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher’s has 10% of the recommended daily allowance for carbohydrates. So when you look at a label and see that it only has 10% of your daily carbohydrate allowance you might think, “That’s not too bad, I can live with that.”

When put into context of what the AHA association recommends for daily consumption of added sugar, the Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher’s 10% equates to 55% of a woman’s allowance for sugar. This makes the frappacino look more like a sugar time bomb than an afternoon pick-me up. In other-words, America…put down the Frappucino (and the donuts while you are at it.)

“But frappucinos and cappuccinos have milk in them, some of those sugars come from milk, right?” Yes they do (I know Paelo people do not usually consume milk, but the average American does). One cup of milk has 13 grams of sugar and your frappucino is not mostly milk. There is a 4 oz difference between the grande and venti frappacino and an increase of 18 grams of sugar. Let’s say that the venti Carmel Frappacino has a cup of milk in it, that still does not account for the other 64g of added sugar, which is 320% of the recommended amount. I believe the amount of milk in closer to 3/4 of a cup, which puts the added sugar total at 66.5g or 333%. That is about a half a cup of sugar in one beverage.

27% of ones daily carbohydrates and 385% of sugar for the venti frappucino looks a lot more like something we can live without. In light of all the new research about sugar, I don’t think anyone can live long with regular consumption of frappucinos.

until tomorrow

*Note: The cappuccino and frappicino were calculated with 2% milk and no whipped cream. All nutritional data is for tall, grande and venti sizes. See the Starbucks website for data on all available sizes. All daily allowances are calculated for a 2000 calorie diet.

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