The truth behind this year's festive drinks

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gingerbread Latte.jpg

A much anticipated element of winter is the festive drinks from high street retailers. Whether you want to just proudly sport a signature red cup, or you can’t get enough of gingerbread lattes, Christmas drinks menus are as sure a sign of the season as the Coca Cola advert.

However, in our bid to embody the Christmas season, we often pardon a multitude of sins. Yes, Christmas is a time for indulgence and overlooking the odd mince pie is part of the experience, but what is actually in our Christmas drinks? Many retailers use the festive season as an excuse to load up their drinks with syrups, creams, tiny biscuits and edible glitter. This all adds up when it comes to calories and sugar content.

While I may crave a Toffee Nut Latte as much as the next person, I have little faith in the high street retailers when it comes to sugar consumption. Costa and Starbucks have been in the press for over a year for the high sugar content in their drinks. This is especially worrying when you consider the NHS recommends no more than 30 grams of sugar a day for people over the age of 11.

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As people become more aware of the negative effects of sugar, I am unsure how we can overlook the incredible amounts used in festive drinks, especially when all the nutritional value is available online.

Nero’s hot chocolates top the chart for calories with a large, whole milk drink in Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate containing 623kcal. That is over 30% of a woman’s GDA. One drink is equivalent to a meal. Although not all calories are necessarily bad, the main concern is sugar. Of the four retailers I looked into (Starbucks, Costa, Nero and Pret a Manger) Starbucks, Costa and Nero all offered a hot chocolate with worrying amounts of sugar. The Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate from Costa tops out at 77.7g of sugar, while a Costa Billionaire’s Hot Chocolate (whole milk- Medio size) has 52.9.g and Starbucks’ Fudge Hot Chocolate (Grande size) has 39.3g.

The general consensus is that 1 teaspoon of sugar is the equivalent to 4g. So nearly 20 teaspoons of sugar is not acceptable for a 2017 festive drink.

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What I don’t understand is why diets and nutrition go out of the window at Christmas? Nobody wants to be the Scrooge who forgoes pudding on Christmas Day, but as the festive drink menus are being unveiled mid-November, can we excuse over a month of indulgence?

That is not to say that all the drinks are calorie laden sugar creations. Pret a Manger’s Mint Mocha and Festive Flat White are in the bottom five when it comes to sugar content, while Starbucks’ Festive Cold Brew is bottom for both calories and sugar.


Company

Specs

Drink

Calories (kcal)

Sugar content (g)

Costa

Medio size- Drink in- whole mil)

Black Forest Frostino

507

67.7

Costa

Medio size- Drink in- whole milk - With coffee

Billionaire's Latte Frostino

523

66.8

Costa

Medio size- Drink in- whole milk

Billionaire's Hot Chocolate

547

52.9

Costa

Medio size- Drink in- whole milk

Mint Hot Chocolate

499

48.2

Costa

Massimo size- Drink in- whole milk

Honeycomb Latte

483

45.1

Costa

Medio size- Drink in- whole milk

Billionaire's Latte

436

43.1

Costa

Medio size- Drink in- whole milk

Black Forest Hot Chocolate

477

41.7

Costa

One size- Drink in- whole milk

Lindt Hot Chocolate

348

33.4

Costa

Medio size- Drink in

Hot Spiced Apple

122

20.9

Costa

Massimo size- Drink in- whole milk

Gingerbread latte

364

19.5

Costa

Massimo size- Drink in- whole milk

Salted Caramel Cappuccino

212

15.4

Starbucks

Grande size

Eggnog Latte

344

43.1

Starbucks

Grande size

Fudge Hot Chocolate

315

39.3

Starbucks

Grande size - semi skim milk

Gingerbread latte

392

38.9

Starbucks

Grande size - whole milk

Toffee Nut Latte

397

38.4

Starbucks

Venti size

Festive Cold Brew

41

9.1

Pret a Manger

per 345g serving

Mint Hot Chocolate

278

44.5

Pret a Manger

per 202g serving

Mint Mocha

220

20.7

Pret a Manger

per 335g serving

Festive Flat White

133

19.9

Nero

Grande size - semi skim milk

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

623

77.7

Nero

Grande - semi skim milk

Hazelnut Hot Chocolate

620

77

Nero

Grande size - semi skim milk

Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

614

75.9

Nero

Grande size - semi skim milk

Clementine Hot Chocolate

589

67.9

Nero

One size - semi skim milk

Hazelnut Milano

519

49.3

Nero

One size - semi skim milk

Clementine Milano

500

44.5

Nero

Grande size - semi skim milk

Salted Caramel Latte

238

37.7

Nero

Grande size - semi skim milk

Hazelnut Latte

235

37

Nero

Grande size - semi skim milk

Gingerbread Latte

229

35.9

Nero

Grande size - semi skim milk

Clementine Latte

204

28

By all means, treat yourself. Let the festive scent of cinnamon and nutmeg lure you into seasonal goodwill, but be aware that high street doesn’t mean healthy, and while these chains will provide you with the nutritional value of their products, they will not advertise that they are a high calorie experience.