Starbucks’ Unicorn Milkshake Is Just as Bad for You as All Their Other Milkshakes

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In these divisive times, a new controversy emerges: is Starbucks’ limited-edition unicorn frappuccino fun and exciting, or a dangerous sugar bomb? It’s a little of both. It’s a slightly watered down milkshake.

A 16-ounce unicorn with whole milk has 410 calories and 59 grams of sugar. (More in larger sizes, of course.) That’s actually less of both than a cotton candy or a green tea frappuccino, or last year’s limited edition Pokémon Go frap. Calorie counts vary across the product line, though, with the Chai Crème flavor only clocking in at 360 and the strawberry at 370. If you just want coffee blended with ice, stevia syrup, and skim milk, you can get the calories down to 180.

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Nutritionally, you’re better off with the unicorn than with the same size of McDonald’s vanilla shake (600 calories, 72 grams of sugar). So that’s something.

It’s not unfair to compare a frappuccino to a milkshake, though. Some flavors contain coffee, but many—including the unicorn—do not. Its ingredients are ice, milk, syrup, and whipped cream, followed by more syrups and sugary powders. Using ice instead of ice cream accounts for the slightly lower calorie count than traditional milkshakes, but the syrups add plenty of sugar. A grande unicorn’s 59 grams of sugar are more than it’s healthy to have in an entire day. (50 grams, or 10 percent of your daily calories, is the limit that the USDA recommends; the World Health Organization goes further, saying that 5 percent, or 25 grams, is a better target.) So order a frap or milkshake if you like, but only if you’re going to really enjoy it.

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