5 Cool Summer Drinks That Pack a Serious Sugar Punch

Sip one one of these beverages and you’ll quickly max out your daily allowance of the sweetener.

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Jun 13, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

The hot, sunny days of summer are almost here, which means Americans will be reaching for ice-cold drinks to help beat the heat. To that end, the nation’s fast-food restaurants, juice bars, and coffee shop mega-chains have plenty of drink options to quench consumers’ thirst. But watch out: Sipping some of their offerings is the equivalent of guzzling down dozens of teaspoons of sugar.

So, Why Should You Care? Sure, these drinks will help keep you cool and satisfy your sweet tooth. But according to recommendations from the American Heart Association, women shouldn’t consume more than six teaspoons of sugar per day, and men shouldn’t ingest more than nine teaspoons. Meanwhile, the average American eats about 20 teaspoons of sugar daily.

The extra empty calories help fuel our soaring rates of obesity—one in three Americans are obese. And, because children around the world eat about 40 teaspoons of sugar per day, it’s no surprise that childhood obesity rates are up too.

How sweetener-filled are some of these beverages? Check out just how much sugar you’ll be gulping down if you consume some of these popular drinks.

Starbucks Cinnamon Roll Frappuccino: 25.5 teaspoons of sugar

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Get ready to drink a pastry—or two. Order a 24-ounce venti size serving of this drink and you’ll enjoy “Cinnamon dolce syrup blended together with coffee, white chocolate mocha sauce and vanilla bean, topped with whipped cream and a cinnamon dolce sprinkle,” according to Starbucks’ website. You’ll also be swallowing 102 grams of sugar—five times the recommended daily serving. That’s the equivalent of eating 25.5 teaspoons of the stuff.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Iced Tea Lemonade: 17.5 teaspons of sugar

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Lemonade and iced tea are two quintessential summer drinks, but a 24-ounce large serving of this concoction from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf contains more than three times the recommended amount of sugar. It contains 70 grams, which is the same as eating 17.5 teaspoons.

Dunkin Donuts Cookie Dough Swirl Iced Coffee with Cream: 12.5 teaspoons of sugar

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On its website, Dunkin Donuts describes its iced coffee as the “perfect pick-me-up any time of day or night” that will give you “the boost you need to keep on running.” You certainly might need to run a few miles to work off the calories in 50 grams of sugar—that’s 12.5 teaspoons—in a large, 32-ounce serving of this drink.

Jamba Juice Strawberry Surf Rider: 17.5 teaspoons of sugar

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This drink from Jamba Juice is made with lemonade, strawberries, and peaches—plus a few scoops of lime sherbet. But get ready to swallow 17.5 teaspoons of sugar, because a small, 16-ounce serving contains 70 grams of the substance. That’s three-and-a-half times the recommended daily consumption.

Sonic Grape Slush With Nerds: 47 teaspoons of sugar

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Kids might beg for a Grape Slush With Nerds at Sonic, but you might want to think twice before buying the liquid treat. A large, 32-ounce serving of the drink, which Sonic describes as “a delicious, slushy mixture of crushed ice and grape flavor with the added awesomeness of NERDS Candy,” contains an astounding 189 grams of sugar. That’s the equivalent of about 47 teaspoons of sugar—the amount an adult should consume over nine days.