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Is your smoothie full of fresh fruit? Some commercial offerings are loaded down with sugar and caffeine. (iStockphoto)
Is your smoothie full of fresh fruit? Some commercial offerings are loaded down with sugar and caffeine. (iStockphoto)

Leslie Beck's Food For Thought

Craving a cool drink? Watch it, or you'll get dessert in a cup Add to ...

If you've traded in your hot cup of coffee for a frozen coffee chiller, you might want to rethink your order. While these drinks might be refreshing on a warm summer day, low-cal they're not. In fact, some deliver more sugar than you'd ever dream of eating for dessert.

And it's not just those chilled coffee drinks topped with whip cream that pack in the calories. Many other summertime beverages including smoothies, milkshakes and iced teas are more decadent than you might think.

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If you're a daily consumer of some of these hard-to-resist drinks, you're likely to notice the numbers on your bathroom scale creep upwards over the next two months.

Most of us know that a steady intake of refined sugar isn't good for us. A high sugar intake has been linked with a higher calorie intake and weight gain. If you're sugar-conscious, you might even compare nutrition labels for grams of sugar when buying breakfast cereals, cookies, frozen waffles, even salad dressings.

But what about what you drink? Do you make the sugar connection as you would with other foods? Chances are you've heard that a 355 ml can of regular pop has eight teaspoons' worth (33 grams) of sugar. But did you realize that's the same amount of sugar found in seven Oreo cookies? To be fair, a can of pop doesn't have the 4.6 grams of cholesterol-raising saturated fat in seven Oreos, and it's lower in calories.

But sugar also matters when it comes to heart health. Too much of the sweet stuff can raise blood triglycerides (fats); lower HDL (good) cholesterol; boost inflammation in the body and increase the risk of heart disease.

What's more, some sweet beverages outscore traditional sweets when it comes to fat and calories. For instance, order a large McDonald's Triple Thick Vanilla Milkshake (1100 calories) and you'll consume just as much saturated fat as three McDonald's cheeseburgers along with 140 grams (35 teaspoons worth) of sugar.

Okay, milkshakes are supposed to be high in fat because they're made with ice cream. But who would have thought there was so much sugar?

The following drinks are just a few examples of high calorie, sugar-laden drinks. A word of warning: you might find the nutrition numbers hard to swallow.

To put the following numbers in perspective, consider that the average adult needs about 2,000 calories, 1,500 milligrams of sodium and no more than 20 grams of saturated fat per day. The American Heart Association advises limiting added sugars to five per cent of daily calories - five teaspoons worth (20 grams) for women and nine teaspoons (36 grams) for men.

Cold Stone Creamery Oh Fudge Milkshake ("Gotta Have It" size, 24 oz.)

1920 calories, 69 grams saturated fat, 750 milligrams sodium, 200 grams sugar

Who would have thought a chocolate milkshake could supply a day's worth of calories, 3.5 days' worth of saturated fat, not to mention the sugar equivalent of 40 Fudgee-O cookies. Even the 40 cookies have less saturated fat (60 grams).

Better choice: For considerably lower calorie splurge, order a small (16 oz.) "Like It" size Sinless Oh Fudge milkshake for 490 calories, two grams of saturated fat, 360 mg sodium and 44 grams sugar. Then plan a long walk to burn off those calories.

Jugo Juice Banana Buzz Smoothie, 24 oz.

522 calories, 9.2 grams saturated fat, 23 milligrams sodium, 88 grams of sugar

Made from real banana, mocha iced coffee (sugar, caffeine), and low-fat frozen yogurt (sugar), this decadent smoothie is a far cry from the type I blend at home. While some of that sugar is naturally occurring from the banana, it's still the sugar equivalent of eating two-thirds of a banana cream pie.

Better choice: If you're craving a real fruit smoothie, order the Junior Jugo made with strawberries and banana. It's 157 calories, fat free and has 39 grams of sugar, none of it refined.

Tim Horton's Iced Capp Supreme Hazelnut with Cream, large (18 oz.)

576 calories, 18 grams saturated fat, 117 milligrams sodium, 72 grams sugar

This has almost a day's worth of saturated fat and 18 teaspoons worth of sugar; consider it liquid dessert. In fact, calorie-wise it's the same as eating 12 dutchie Timbits, but you'd have to pop back 18 of the mini donuts to consume as much sugar.

Better Choice: At 170 calories, one gram of saturated fat and 20 grams of sugar, you'll do your waistline and arteries a favour by ordering Tim Horton's large Iced Coffee with milk.

Starbucks Tazo Green Tea Crème Frappuccino with Whip, Grande (16 oz.)

550 calories, 11 grams saturated fat, 310 milligrams sodium, 88 grams sugar

I'm pretty sure the sweetened green tea in this beverage isn't going to boost your metabolism or ward off disease. If you decide to sip on this, you may as well polish off a 500 ml tub of Haagen-Dazs Green Tea and Honey ice cream. (While it's still high in sugar, it is considerably lower in saturated fat than the ice cream.)

Better choice: Order the smallest size (12 oz.) with non-fat milk and hold the whip cream for 210 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 160 mg sodium and 47 grams of sugar. Or, try one of Starbucks's Frappuccino Light Blended Beverages to cut half the sugar.

Rockstar Punched Energy Drink, 473 ml

260 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 110 milligrams sodium, 62 grams of sugar

"Bigger, better, faster, stronger," boasts the website. Bigger, maybe, considering this caffeine-laced blend of carbonated water, fruit flavour, sugar, B vitamins and herbs has as much refined sugar as 3.5 Kellogg's Frosted Strawberry Pop Tarts.

Better choice: I'm hard pressed here, because I don't think anyone needs energy drinks. However, if you looking for a caffeine alternative to coffee, think small. Red Bull's 250ml energy drink delivers less than half the calories (110) and sugar (27 grams).

AriZona Lemon Iced Tea, 591 ml (20 oz.)

250 calories, 0 grams saturated fat, 25 milligrams sodium, 62 grams of sugar

I wish I didn't have to travel south of the border to find real iced tea, as opposed to the stuff sold in Canada, which is basically a soft drink. Guzzle this bottle of iced tea on a hot day and you'll consume as much sugar as four cups (500 ml) of Captain Crunch cereal.

Better choice: If you can find it, look for AriZona's calorie- and sugar-free unsweetened iced tea. Or, try Starbucks's Shaken Iced Black Tea - and skip the pumps of liquid sugar. They don't serve lemon wedges (I wish they did), but you can ask for a little lemonade to be added for flavour.

Leslie Beck, a Toronto-based dietitian at the Medcan Clinic, is on CTV's Canada AM every Wednesday. Her website is lesliebeck.com.

 

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