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Requesting simple swaps when you order can help you reduce calories and sugar while improving the nutritional value of Starbucks’ three new summer menu drinks. Photography courtesy of Starbucks
  • Starbucks has added three new drinks to its summer menu.
  • These drinks are high in sugar and calories, but you can make them healthier with a few simple swaps.
  • Experts recommend choosing a smaller size, adding extra ice or water, and opting for light lemonade.

Starbucks has introduced three new drinks to its summer menu this season.

The rollout includes a trio of Summer-Berry Starbucks Refreshers beverages. They feature a layer of new popping raspberry-flavored pearls that add a burst of fruity flavor.

New drinks are:

  • Summer-Berry Starbucks Refreshers Beverage: It features a blend of raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry flavors, shaken with ice and poured over a layer of popping raspberry-flavored pearls.
  • Summer-Berry Lemonade Starbucks Refreshers Beverage: It combines Summer-Berry Refreshers shaken with ice and lemonade and poured over a layer of popping raspberry-flavored pearls.
  • Summer Skies Drink: A non-dairy option that features Summer-Berry Refreshers creamy coconut milk poured over ice and a layer of new popping raspberry-flavored pearls.

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that these drinks aren’t particularly healthy.

However, two nutritionists shared simple changes you can make when ordering these items that can help reduce the calories and amount of sugar in each drink while still enjoying the taste of these summer treats.

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Summer-Berry Starbucks Refreshers Beverage. Photography courtesy of Starbucks

The Summer-Berry Starbucks Refreshers drink contains 110 calories and 25g of sugar in a Grande serving.

Nutritionist GQ Jordan says that while the calorie count is relatively low, the high sugar content can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels.

“These spikes can cause jitteriness, fatigue, and hunger soon after consumption, making it harder to maintain energy and focus,” she explains.

Jordan says that although the drink provides some vitamin C and antioxidants from the fruit juices, the high sugar content outweighs these benefits, potentially harming your blood sugar and overall health.

So, the best way to make this drink healthier is to reduce its sugar content. Jordan says one way to do this is to ask for extra ice.

“More ice means less liquid, reducing the drink’s overall sugar content per sip,” she explains.

Jordan says you could also drink this alongside a protein-based meal or snack to support blood sugar balance.

Dietitian Emma Shafqat agrees that the sugar content in this drink is very high.

She recommends sharing the drink with a friend to reduce the intake of sugar or opting for a smaller size.

“You could also add some actual fruit into the drink to give some fiber and vitamin C instead of fruit flavors,” she suggests.

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Summer-Berry Lemonade Starbucks Refreshers Beverage. Photography courtesy of Starbucks

On the surface, this beverage might not seem all that different from the Summer-Berry Starbucks Refreshers Beverage, but it contains more sugar and calories.

“The grande size of this drink has 160 calories and 37g of sugar which is more than the adult recommended daily intake of sugar of 30g,” Shafqat notes.

“The ingredients are very similar, but this one has lemonade added, which is where the extra sugar is found,” she explains.

One good point for this and the other new summer drinks being offered at Starbucks is that they include spirulina, which Shafqat says can be a good source of healthy polyunsaturated fats and vitamin C.

Don’t get too excited though. “As fat is listed as 0g, I am guessing there is very little spirulina added,” Shafqat points out.

This drink also contains 50mg of caffeine, as do the other two new summer menu offerings.

“People may not be aware of the caffeine content, and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you only want to have 200mg of caffeine per day,” Shafqat notes.

If you want to make this drink healthier, Shafqat recommends opting for a caffeine-free option.

“You could also choose a smaller size or have half of it and dilute the rest with water to reduce the sugar intake,” she suggests.

Shafqat’s final tip is to have the drink without the added raspberry-flavored pearls or ask for fewer of them to reduce the sugar intake.

Additionally, Jordan says you could request light lemonade to significantly reduce the sugar content.

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Summer Skies Drink. Photography courtesy of Starbucks

Like both of the others, this drink is also high in calories and sugar, with 150 calories and 29g of sugar in a grande cup.

It also has added caffeine, which Shafqat says is concerning if you are not aware of it because this drink could appeal to children.

On the plus side, she says some coconut milk has been added, which means it contains some added vitamin D and calcium, but in a very small amount.

If you want to make this drink healthier, your first port of call should be asking for a smaller size to cut some of the calories and sugar. Alternatively, Shafqat says you can dilute it with water.

She also suggests increasing the amount of coconut milk or swapping it for cow’s milk, which provides essential nutrients like calcium, riboflavin, and iodine.

Skipping the raspberry-flavored pearls is another way to reduce the sugar intake.

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White Chocolate Macadamia Cream Cold Brew. Photography courtesy of Starbucks

If you want to make healthier choices at Starbucks, Jordan recommends skipping whipped cream, which will cut extra calories and sugar. You can also opt for full-fat dairy.

“Alternative milks at Starbucks use rapeseed oil, which is inflammatory, so you’re better off choosing full-fat dairy,” she explains.

Alternatively, Shafqat says you could choose options like iced black tea, which has zero calories.

If in doubt, choose a smaller size.

“Simply choosing a smaller size can help manage overall calorie and sugar intake,” Jordan points out.

Drinks like these aren’t the healthiest choice and are best enjoyed in moderation.

If you’re concerned about the calorie and/or sugar content, there are ways to make these drinks a little healthier.

Experts recommend asking for a smaller size, opting for cow’s milk, and reducing high-sugar syrups and flavorings.