On its own – without added sugars or heavy creams – coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants, and regular consumption is associated with a host of health benefits, including a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Many of the recipes that have gone viral, however, suggest adding heavy cream and sometimes more than a dozen pumps of flavored syrups.
“Of course, we know that this isn’t healthy, and I don’t know if that’s also the intent, if that’s what’s making these drinks trendy,” said Maya Vadiveloo, an assistant professor in the department of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston. “Is it people who are trying to say, ‘This is just a delicious thing that I enjoy having when I’m feeling really, really decadent?’ Or is it something that they think, ‘This is my go-to drink of choice?’”
The trendy recipes aren’t only based on coffee drinks; some of the most popular off-the-menu requests this summer are based on fruit drinks, which also can be deceptively unhealthy, Vadiveloo said.
“There’s more of a ‘health halo’ around juice because people associate juice and fruit,” she said. “But again, we don’t compensate for calories from juice in the same way that we do with whole fruit. And when we just have juice, it takes away the fiber and some of the water content that helps keep you fuller, so you’re more likely to over-consume juice and sugar at once.”
A study last year in the Journal of the American Heart Association found women who drank one or more sugary beverages a day had an 18 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study, from the AHA’s journal Circulation, found sugary drinks are associated with an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and, to a lesser extent, cancer.
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