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One pumpkin spice drink contains more sugar than three jam doughnuts, says nutritionist

Leicestershire Live logo Leicestershire Live 23/09/2022 Stephen Pitts
The worst offender contained the same amount of sugar as three and a half jam doughnuts © Getty Images/iStockphoto The worst offender contained the same amount of sugar as three and a half jam doughnuts

Diet experts have warned that seasonal autumn drinks from high street chains can be worse for you than many realise because of their high sugar content.

Chains such as Starbucks, Costa, Pret A Manger and Greggs have brought back their much-loved seasonal drinks, but experts who analysed 11 medium seasonal drinks from the chains say their high sugar content means many contain more sugar than three Geggs jam doughnuts in one serving.

The Daily Star reported that research by meal replacement specialists exante found that Starbucks drinks made up four of the five highest in sugar. The Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino topped the list of those highest in sugar with 53.6g - just over three-and-a-half Greggs’ Jam Doughnuts or 12 teaspoons of sugar.

Costa’s Maple Hazel Hot Chocolate and Light Dairy Swirl drink was second with 48.9g of sugar, which is just under three-and-a-half doughnuts. The standard daily reference intake (RI) for total sugars is 90g a day - including 30g of ‘free sugars’.

Lujain Alhassan, exante’s in-house expert nutritionist, said people should be aware that some of these drinks may contain more than the daily RI for ‘free sugars’ in each regular serving: “Excess consumption of sugar can have a detrimental effect on our health. Research shows it can contribute to weight gain, lead to tooth decay and higher blood pressure, and is associated with diet-related diseases, including an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

“Over-consumption may also lead to a hormone imbalance, which can affect your mood and may increase your risk of depression. I don't think enough people are aware of the amount of sugar in these seasonal drinks. It’s easy to switch our daily morning coffee to an autumn favourite, but I’d advise people to go for the low-sugar, low-calorie options, or avoid consuming them regularly.

“Another option is to ask for less or no cream, less syrup or sauce, and so on, so you can still enjoy your favourite drink but in a more health-conscious way. Healthy eating is all about balance.”

The NHS says a small amount of fat is an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet, but too much-saturated fat can raise the ‘bad’ low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in your blood, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Lujain added: “These drinks contain "empty" calories because they’re not nutritionally dense and don’t contain enough nutrients to make you feel full.”

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