Are you a fan of frappuccino? Maybe after reading this article, you will reconsider.
Sugar seems to be in everything these days. And it makes sense for companies to add it to their products. It’s addictive. It tastes good. But just how much damage do our sugary vices do?
The answer is more than you think – especially paired with coffee on a hot summer day. I do admit, I can have a weakness for the odd frappuccino here and there on a warm day, but after reading this, I think I’ll leave Starbucks well alone.
It can seem like such a treat, but what makes it so bad? Apart from all the sugar, there’s a lot of other ingredients that make me wonder.
If we look at the very basic Light Coffee Frappuccino Syrup (with no less than 7 E-numbers!) then the breakdown of ingredients is a little like this:
A good start, pretty basic.
Diabetes, tooth decay. This we know about.
- Erythritol (E968)
A sweetener made from sugar. Often used in low-calorie food and drinks
- Natural Flavours
I don’t like how vague this is, to be honest.
Another basic ingredient that we know the evils of.
- Carrageenan (E407)
A gelling agent made from seaweed. Known adverse effects include GI ulcers and liver damage – Also suspected of causing cancer.
- Xanthum Gum (E415)
It’s often made from high GI staples like corn and wheat.
This won’t help those with a diabetes risk either since it’s a thickening agent and sweetener made from corn. It has a GI index score between 85 and 100.
- Potassium Sorbate
A preservative, with ongoing studies into its effects on the body.
- Citric Acid (E330)
This stuff helps break down some fats in the milk so it all blends together nicely. It’s actually made from sugar the same way that sugary foods become acidic in the mouth, so it will help rot your teeth in the same way over time.
A refined sweetener from the stevia plant. This is 200 times sweeter than regular sugar by all accounts.
- Caramel Colour (E150d, E150b)
A Class IV caramel color. This is even nastier than Carageenan so I’ll go into detail further down.
So, with only one of the main ingredients broken down, we have a LOT of sugar and sweetener.
Can we hope that maybe, just maybe, this is where all the sugar and additives are? Maybe they left the rest of the drink alone?
No such luck. In some ways, the Frappuccino base is even worse than the coffee syrup. This time, the main ingredient is sugar. There’s more sugar than water, which is next. Then we have a more vague natural and artificial flavors, more potassium sorbate, more citric acid, more caramel coloring, and more xanthum gum.
It’s nearly the same as before! Additives on top of sweeteners on top of preservatives and we haven’t even gotten to the flavor yet! These are just the base ingredients.
The next two ingredients are caramel sauce and caramel syrup, so lets finally have a chat about that mysterious caramel color. In these two ingredients, the coloring is basically mixed with sugar in different ratios.
I used some jargon further up and called it a Class IV caramel color. This means it is made by heating carbohydrates with ammonia and sulphites, which produces a by-product called 4-methylimidazole. This chemical may increase the risk of lung tumors and cancer over time – to the point that both Coca-Cola and Pepsi have removed this color from their drinks altogether.
Now since the only main ingredient left is whipped cream, you may think this is over, but no.
The whipped cream used in frappuccino also contains vanilla syrup which is made of sugar, water, natural flavors, potassium sorbate, citric acid, and……… caramel coloring.
It seems no matter how tasty Starbuck’s frappuccino is, the cost of drinking it may go well past pounds and pence.