Make your coffee run healthier by focusing on 3 key nutrients

Coffee shops and cafés around the country are offering more healthy fare while expanding menus beyond coffee and a sweet treat.  How would you rate your efforts at identifying the good vs. the “not so good?”  Walk into your local Starbucks and most would think a Morning Glory Muffin (with carrots, raisins, pineapple, and pecans no less!) paired with a Grande Vanilla Latte (2 percent milk) equals an excellent fiber-packed jump start for the day.

Not so fast… this combo will set you back 630 calories, 62 grams sugar (15 tsp.!), a measly 2 grams fiber and is equivalent to eating 3½ slices of white bread.

coffeecutwomanloresLesson: Healthy eating isn’t easy…even for people who think they are doing the right thing.

Some better selections to get your metabolism moving:

• A Spinach Feta Breakfast Wrap + a Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte or Soy Café Misto will provide a nice 380 calories, 8 grams of fiber (the wrap is whole wheat), 25 grams protein, and only 12-17g of sugar (but 13 is naturally occurring in the milk).

• An Old Fashioned Oatmeal with splash milk and 1 packet brown sugar + Grande 2 percent milk Cappuccino offers only 300 calories, 13 grams protein, 4 grams fiber, and 12 grams sugar (8 of which are naturally occurring)

How can you identify a healthy choice? Many coffee shops and cafés offer a website and/or brochure that provide calorie and nutrient content.  Starbucks’ website has nutritional information and helpful tips for selecting healthier fare.  Starting this week, they also will post the nutrition content on menu boards in their stores.

If you’d like to be a health-conscious consumer in your local coffee shop or favorite lunch venue, focus on three key areas for overall health:

• Added Sugar:  Nutrition labels don’t differentiate between “natural” and “added” sugar. Naturally occurring sugars found in fresh fruit and milk is not the concern.  The culprit is “added sugars,” aka high-fructose corn syrup, cane/beet sugar, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, agave syrup, etc.  When ordering fresh fruit or milk, 6-12 of the “sugars” will be natural, so read the ingredients. They are listed in descending order of quantity. The American Heart Association recommend aiming for 100 calories (6 ½ tsp. or 25 grams) a day of added sugars for women and 150 calories (9 ½ tsp. or 38 grams a day) for men.  The average American consumes 22-30 tsp. of “added” sugar per day.  So do yourself a favor and order your coffee without the sugar syrups and skip the pastry or muffin.

• Fat:  We know saturated fat is the culprit for many diseases, particularly of the heart.  So go for skim or soy milk in your coffee. Saturated fats lurk in scones, pastries and muffins, so look away from the blueberry scone with 9 grams saturated fat (almost ½ your recommended daily amount) and limit cheeses, bacon and sausage. Aim for healthy fat, such as nuts added to oatmeal, avocado on a sandwich or hummus on some crackers.

• Fiber:  Key for weight control and disease prevention. The goal per day is 25-35 grams. Breakfast is the best opportunity for most people.  Ideally aim for 8-15 grams/meal.  Look for whole grains like oatmeal, fiber cereals or a 100 percent whole wheat breakfast sandwich or wrap and fresh fruit.

Be mindful of your choices and stay informed.  A splurge once in awhile is fine, but on a weekly basis, it may be the reason you feel sluggish or are adding a little around the middle.

If you’re interested in learning how to get started on a healthier diet, feel free to call our Nutrition Counseling Program at (941) 917-7468 or click here for more information.


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