October is in full swing. The leaves are changing and Starbucks is marketing the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte. In addition to this fall staple, there is a new Toasted Graham Latte on the market. As a lover of all things pumpkin, cinnamon, or spice (as basic as this may sound) and an avid coffee drinker, I will be the first to say that these flavors go better together than Miley Cyrus and fuzzy stuffed animals. However, many of these espresso beverages pack on grams of added sugar. 

In a grande iced chai tea latte with nonfat milk from Starbucks, there is 42g of sugar. What does that look like? Well, in teaspoons that breaks down to exactly 10 teaspoons of sugar. That is more sugar than a 12 fl oz can of Coca Cola.

A Starbucks grande pumpkin spice latte with nonfat milk and no whipped cream has 48g of sugar. That equates to 11.5 teaspoons of sugar - a little under the sugar contents of a 16 fl oz bottle of Coca Cola.

So what does this mean? Am I saying, no more pumpkin spice or toasted marshmallow graham cracker toasted peanut brittle lattes this fall? That would be like spending your morning commute without listening to T Swift. Feel free to enjoy the seasonal beverages at your local coffee shop, but be aware of serving sizes and added sugars.

According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, "On average, adults in the United States consumer 14.6 percent of their calories from added sugars[.] Higher intake of added sugars is associated with higher energy intake and lower diet quality, which can increase the risk for obesity, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease." The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and no more than 8 teaspoons per day for men.  Down one of these beverages and you are almost doubling the recommended amount. These beverages spike your blood sugar quickly and then leave you with an energy crash after. To limit added sugars and still have that flavor you love try these modified Starbucks drinks. Just ask your barista for:

  • Grande Nonfat Latte with 1 pump pumpkin spice syrup or any other seasonal flavor
  • Grande Nonfat Iced Chai Tea Latte with 1 pump chai syrup and a shot of espresso

These options lower the sugar contents of each beverage by more than half without losing that holiday spice. So throw on that scarf and boots, grab your latte to go, and have a happy October day!