Our new monthly installment features a portion of the popular guide, Eat This, Not That! in hopes that it will help you make better choices at casual and fast-food establishments.
Photo: Elizabeth Hait
I recently found myself in line at a local coffee shop behind a very nutrition-minded customer. She was asking the barista about the various food choices -- and she knew what she was talking about: Which fats were good or bad, how much sugar is reasonable, etc. That's why I couldn't believe her drink order: some kind of whipped mocha frappe concoction. All her caloric diligence went right out the window. I didn't want to be rude, so I held my tongue. But the woman made a classic mistake: She was watching what she ate, but not what she drank. The damage: more than 400 additional calories, guzzled from a plastic cup.
The fact is, a shocking number of the calories we consume at coffee joints doesn't come from the food. It comes from the coffee, and that's a shame. A cup of coffee in its raw, natural state contains only 5 calories, and coffee consumption has been linked to diminished risk of Alzheimer's [disease], better brain function, and even better memory. Coffee, in its purest, blackest form, is good for you. But too much of our coffee has been razzle-dazzled into sugary, fatty, pastrylike beverages: Instead of seizing the day with caffeinated focus, we're losing our grip on our diets.
That said, you can get your morning java boost without the accompanying belt expansion, if you know what to look for -- and what to avoid.
After the jump, an overview of the best -- and worst -- coffee drinks in America.