High-calorie holiday coffee drinks

(CONSUMER REPORTS) - If you're tempted by those specialty holiday coffee drinks but sick of fighting holiday pounds, here is some good news.

Consumer Reports' nutrition experts have come up with some easy ways to customize your drink so it doesn't pack as big a punch in fat and sugar.

McDonald’s Peppermint Mocha looks yummy, but 16 ounces has more than 400 calories, 8 grams of saturated fat, and 13 teaspoons of sugars. Starbucks’ Gingerbread Frappuccino blended beverage isn’t any better. With whipped cream and whole milk, 16 ounces has 370 calories, which includes 15 teaspoons of sugars and 9 grams of saturated fat.

Holiday coffee drinks are a surprising source of saturated fat. In the ones Consumer Reports looked at, the saturated-fat content ranged from about 22% to almost 100% of what you should have in an entire day. But don’t despair. Simply ordering a smaller size and substituting skim milk takes a huge bite out of the fat and sugar content of all the holiday drinks Consumer Reports analyzed.

For instance, choosing the smaller Starbucks Gingerbread Frappuccino with skim milk saves you 110 calories, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 3½ teaspoons of sugars. Choosing the smaller Dunkin’ Donuts Salted Caramel Swirl Hot Latte with skim milk saves you 170 calories, 5 grams of saturated fat, and about 4 teaspoons of sugars.

No matter where you get your drink, one easy way to cut fat and calories is to simply skip the whipped cream.

With the Starbucks Gingerbread Frappuccino Blended beverage, even with whole milk, you’ll knock 100 calories off the medium size and bring the saturated fat down to a reasonable level of 7% of what’s recommended you consume every day.

Another tip: Reduce or switch the syrup that flavors the drinks. Some franchises offer artificially sweetened syrups, which will cut down significantly on the calories in the drink.

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