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Starbucks Breakfast: A Healthy Option?

Aug 14, 2014

While standing at the counter at Starbucks, staring at the delicious case of breakfast pastries, it's easy to forget your diet and order a giant muffin. However, beyond the cupcakes and frosting covered treats, is a Starbucks breakfast a healthy option?

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Look Beyond the Pastry Case

In an effort to appeal to a wide customer base, Starbucks has long offered a large assortment of muffins, cupcakes and pastries to satisfy every palate. Cupcakes loaded with chocolate frosting, donuts filled with vanilla cream and chocolate chip muffins are just a few of the caloric catastrophes available in most Starbucks restaurants.

But, all of the food offerings at Starbucks do not come from the pastry case. In nearly every store, there is a refrigerated section of food just below eye level (generally right beneath the pastry case) which contains a variety of healthier options such as small vegetable platters, yogurt concoctions and granola. Most of these items come with fully printed fat and calorie numbers as well.

Reduced Fat Doesn't Mean Low Fat

Available in most Starbucks are a variety of "reduced fat" muffin options like their Reduced Fat Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake or their Reduced Fat Blueberry Coffee Cake.

It is important to be aware that muffins on the Starbucks menu that are labeled as "Reduced Fat" will usually still contain many grams of fat. They simply have less fat than their full-fat counterparts. For example, a piece of Reduced Fat Banana Coffee Cake will yield almost 500 calories and 15 grams of fat!

Instead of reaching for the reduced fat muffins, try a low fat muffin instead.  A Starbucks Lowfat Blueberry Corn Muffin will offer only 1.5 grams of fat, zero grams of saturated fat, and is only 240 calories. Conversely, a piece of Reduced Fat Blueberry Coffee Cake will offer up 11 grams of fat, 350 calories and actually contains a gram of trans fat.

Modify Your Brew

Every drink on the Starbucks menu can be modified in some way, and changing the type of milk used in a latte or the type of sugar used in a "Frappucino" can help to cut down on calories while still allowing you to enjoy your favorite drink. Also, choosing to buy a "tall" (or small in Starbucks lingo) instead of a "grande" (or medium) will cut down on the overall number of calories, without completely denying you your favorite drink.

In addition, Starbucks offers other types of drinks beyond coffee including green teas, black teas, and apple cider, all of which can be consumed using non-fat milk and sugar substitutes. Many coffee and tea options also come available with a zero-sugar option called "lite," which will greatly reduce the overall calorie content of most drinks.

Enjoying a breakfast at Starbucks may find you eating and drinking a great deal of calories if you're not careful, but with some simple modifications to your coffee and some attention paid to the non-pastry oriented items on the menu, you can enjoy your cup of morning coffee without completely abandoning a healthy diet.

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