Nutrition Expert Exposes The Worst Starbucks Drink On The Menu

There aren't many of us out there who might go to Starbucks, peruse the beverage menu, pause, think "I really shouldn't," and then order a decadent cream-based, sugar-laden, "I'll have everything with that" Frappuccino (with an extra shot of espresso) because really, you should only consider the beverage for what it really is: a celebration in a cup.

But like all parties, this celebration comes with a cost. When it's served up with all the fixings, a coffee-based delight like our friend, Starbucks' Caramel Frappuccino® comes with whipped cream and three types of syrups and sauces (Coffee Frappuccino syrup, caramel syrup, and caramel sauce), on top of the coffee, milk, and ice (via Starbucks' website). Small wonder then that a 16-ounce drink packs 380 calories and an eye-watering 54 grams of sugar (which is four and one-third tablespoons of sugar, in case you're wondering). It may be equally disconcerting to find out that a 12-ounce can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar (via Livestrong).

So if nutritionist Piper Gibson, holistic health and nutrition expert at Regenerating Health, had to pick the worst offender out of a line-up of Frappuccinos, which one would she choose? She tells Mashed: "In my opinion, Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino® Blended Beverage is the worst item on the Starbucks menu."

The Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino lists sugar as an ingredient six times

Gibson tells Mashed that this beverage, which is a cream-based cousin to the Caramel Frappuccino, lists sugar as an ingredient no less than six times and packs a total of 60 grams of the sweet stuff. "The American Heart Association recommends women limit sugar consumption to 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day and men limit to 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day. For a woman, this frap is 2.4 days' worth of added sugar," Gibson says.

But wait, there's more. "Beyond the sugar, this frap also contains corn syrup that your cells cannot use. In the liver, the fructose in corn syrup is rapidly metabolized into glucose, putting extra strain on the liver. The more fructose you consume, the harder your liver has to work, and the fructose contributes to fatty liver," Gibson tells Mashed. She also points out that the Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino contains trace quantities of other ingredients that could pack a wallop if they came in larger quantities.

Sugar is not the only thing bad for you in this beverage

In addition to highlighting the sugar avalanche, Gibson identifies mono and diglycerides as "hidden trans fats" used as additives that come in at less than .5 grams. The preservative carrageenan can trigger gut inflammation and "[contains] a small amount of free glutamate, a neurotoxin that can damage neurons in the brain." And because this frap is a gift that keeps on giving, it also has plenty of cream and milk, which can not only trigger unpleasant reactions in those who are lactose intolerant but, as Gibson reminds us, is also high in saturated fats.

This is not to say you should stay away from Fraps altogether because we do understand their appeal on a hot day. But like many things, this particular beverage is probably best consumed in moderation, and that consideration is needed to determine whether you really should have it at all.