If you’ve been anywhere near social media lately, you know that people are freaking out over the new Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino. The drink, which features a bright pink and blue mixture, topped off with whipped cream and pink and blue “fairy powders,” has been dominating Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds since it debuted on April 19.
Some people are so fanatical over the Frappuccino that they’re dyeing their hair to match their drinks. But not everyone is in love with the Unicorn Frappuccino — many people have pointed out on Twitter that the drink isn’t so great in the nutritional department:
Unicorn Frappuccino….that's one way to get in 500 calories & 76 sugar ????????… I'd just rather eat an entire large pizza for those calories????????
— ㅤ (@unapologetiicb) April 19, 2017
The Unicorn Frappuccino has 76 grams of sugar and is made of mashed muppets
— Ian Boudreau (@iboudreau) April 20, 2017
The new Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino has 76 grams of sugar. Uh yeah, hard pass ????????
— Carlie ☀️ (@carliep14) April 20, 2017
As with all its drinks, Starbucks is open about the ingredients in the Unicorn Frappuccino and its nutritional value. According to the coffee giant, the drink is made up of ice, milk, crème Frappuccino syrup, whipped cream, vanilla syrup, mango syrup, “blue drizzle” (essentially, white chocolate mocha sauce), “classic syrup,” sour blue powder, and pink powder.
With all those syrups, it’s not shocking that the Unicorn Frappuccino isn’t exactly a health food. A 16-ounce Unicorn Frappe contains 410 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 59 grams of sugar, while the 24-ounce version has 500 calories, 18 grams of fat, and a mind-blowing 76 grams of sugar.
Certified dietitian-nutritionist Lisa Moskovitz, CEO of NY Nutrition Group, tells Yahoo Beauty that the sugar in particular is an issue. “The average adult should not consume more than 20 to 30 grams of added sugar per day,” she says. “This Frappuccino offers up twice if not three times as much as one should consume in a day.”
Beth Warren, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living a Real Life With Real Food, is also unimpressed. “I don’t think we can even refer to the term ‘nutritional value’ when we talk about this product,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “There’s no nutritional benefit to consuming it. In fact, it can contribute to harming your health.”
While it looks cool in photos, New York-based registered dietitian Jessica Cording tells Yahoo Beauty that the Unicorn Frappuccino is just not healthy. “I appreciate that some of the colors come from natural sources, but there’s really nothing in here that’s actively good for you,” she says. “I mean, ‘blue drizzle’ is not a food.”
When you drink your calories, they end up being processed and absorbed by your body much more quickly, causing your blood sugar to spike, explains Moskovitz. If you do this regularly, it can put you at risk of developing issues such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. When your blood sugar spikes, it inevitably crashes afterward, leaving you feeling tired and hungry — and therefore more likely to overeat than if you’d skipped all that sugar, Moskovitz says. Doing that consistently can lead to weight gain, which comes with its own health issues. The high fat content in the drink, likely the result of the heavy cream and coconut oil in it, can also lead to weight gain, Warren points out.
Of course, the Unicorn Frappuccino isn’t designed to be the next Starbucks iced mocha. Starbucks points out on its website that the Unicorn Frappuccino is “here for a few days only,” so it’s unlikely this will become anyone’s go-to drink.
If you want to try a Unicorn Frappuccino or have it here and there while it’s in stores, Moskovitz says that’s totally fine. “Once in a while — like, a few times per year — is OK to enjoy a beverage like this, but make sure you really appreciate it and it’s something you really, really will enjoy,” she says. “Otherwise it will be a waste of a treat.” Cording agrees. “I would put this under the ‘I tried it once to see what the hype was all about’ category if you’re going to have it at all,” she says. “If you do decide to check it out, maybe order the smallest size available and split it with a friend. Take your photos, have a few sips, and move on with your life.”
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