What Do Nutritionists Think of That New Vegan Starbucks Drink?
Protein seekers might be more than a little excited about Starbucks adding plant-based-protein-blended cold brews to their menu.
But are they really as healthy as the name implies?
Here’s what nutritionists think of the new beverage
Available in two flavors - cacao and almond - the ingredients include brewed coffee, coconut sugar, banana puree, apple juice concentrate, date juice concentrate, pea protein, banana powder, and brown rice protein.
The almond variety contains almond milk (with almonds and sugar) and almond butter (with blanched almonds and sunflower oil). The cacao flavor uses coconut milk (coconut cream, cane sugar and coconut water concentrate) and a cacao blend (with chocolate liquor, high fat cocoa powder, and coconut sugar).
“So, the sugar is really the concerning thing here,”said Jessica Bennett, RD, clinical dietitian at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, adding that there are many sources of sugar in these drinks, including coconut.“Coconut sugar, people think that’s healthier because it’s from the coconut, but it’s still a source of sugar.”
The nutritional profile for 16 fl. ounces of the almond drink is 270 calories, 12 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein and 22 grams of sugar. For the cacao drink, it’s 250 calories, 9 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein and 26 grams of sugar.
Bennett said that two Krispy Kreme donuts are about 20 grams of sugar, and a Snickers bar is 27 grams of sugar - not far off from one of these 16-oz. drinks.
Plus, the calories are significant, so you might want to think of this drink as more of a meal.
“Calorie-wise, if you’re using it as a meal replacement, it might be a little bit better,” she said.
On the upside, she added that it does have fiber (5 grams of dietary fiber in the cacao brew and 4 grams in the almond brew), which is always a good thing. And it does give customers more vegan options.
“It is a great thing to have more options and moving in a plant-based direction,” she said. “To make it healthier, you could just get a cold brew and have them put almond milk in it and add the plant-based protein.”
Registered dietitian Amy Shapiro, founder of Real Nutrition in New York, also has mixed feelings about the new drinks.
纽约Real Nutrition公司创立者及注册营养师Amy Shapiro对这些新饮品也是又爱又恨。
“I don’t love that Starbucks has added these to their menu,” she said. “Yes, they are on trend,’ but with the sugar and fat and protein, this is more like a ‘meal’ than a ‘snack.’ This is turning coffee into dessert and includes calories most people don’t count.”
Shapiro did point out that the protein will be helpful in combatting the dreaded energy slump after having a sugary drink.
“These drinks are better than some of the other coffee drink options, so there is that angle, too. The protein will balance out the sugar to prevent an energy slump in the near future, and the fat and protein added can help ease the adrenaline rush many people get from just straight up coffee.”
She said ingredients consumers should look out for in “healthy” products include fruit purees, coconut sugar, and fruit juices. They all sound healthy but are essentially sugar.