Sugar warning on plant-based milk alternative festive drinks

  • by Anna Tomlinson

Sugar warning on plant-based milk alternative festive drinks

With Christmas nearly upon us, just about every coffee shop on the high street has its offering of festive lattes, hot chocolates and cappuccinos for us to indulge in.

In recent years, more and more high street coffee chains have been offering a variety of plant-based alternatives to dairy. And many customers are choosing to have their coffees made with oat, soya or almond milk, instead of traditional dairy – often because they think it’s the healthy choice.

But stunning new research by Action on Sugar has found that dairy alternatives like oat milk contain huge amounts of hidden sugar.


The most sugary Christmas drinks are made with oat milk


Action on Sugar analysed the nutritional content of hundreds of festive drinks available at Starbuck, Costa, Café Nero, Greggs, Pret and other high street chains to see which had the highest amounts of sugar and the most calories.

The results were a shock for everyone – given how much sugar is in these Christmas treats – but especially those who think dairy alternatives like oat milk are a healthy choice.

Because the hot chocolate with the most sugar, and the highest amount of calories, was a venti Signature Caramel Hot Chocolate from Starbucks made using oat milk. Of all the hot chocolate drinks available, this option with oat milk was the worst for you. It has 758 calories and 93.7g sugar – 23 teaspoons!

Get the same drink with whole milk – which many users consider to be the worst option – and you’d have almost 5g less sugar (more than a teaspoon) and 30 fewer calories.

The same is true of festival lattes. The worst culprit was again from Starbucks, a gingerbread latte made with oat milk. It contains 523 calories and 56.6g of sugar. Compare this with a gingerbread latte made with whole milk, and you’d have 472 calories and 48g of sugar.

Of course, this is still a LOT of sugar – but it’s clearly better to get whole milk than oat milk. And it’s nicer too.


Oat milk higher in sugar in all lattes


The Action on Sugar report also looked into regular lattes at all high street chains too, and their findings about oat milk were replicated here too.

A classic latte at Starbucks made with oat milk contains 350 calories and 29.5 grams of sugar. Make the same drink with whole milk, and you only get 298 calories and 20.7 grams of sugar. With Semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, the calories are even lower.

So the next time you think about grabbing a festive drink and making it a bit healthier by choosing a plant-based alternative like oat milk… think again!

Stick with dairy – the good stuff – for that proper indulgent Christmas latte or hot chocolate – with less sugar and less calories!

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