Iced drinks are known to be high in sugar and fat. Iced vanilla chai frappé, iced mango tea and java coffee with chocolate chips are just a few of the many options available at popular coffee chains. Here are a few tips to help you make informed decision for your future iced beverages.

Tips to help you choose

Coffee chains are not lacking in creativity when it comes to their iced drinks with their varied and exotic flavours: iced vanilla chai frappé, iced mango herbal tea, Java coffee with chocolate chips, Caribbean treasure iced tea, etc. However, the nutritional value of many of them is more like a dessert! Here are some tips to help you make better choices:

Keep it simple. Iced black coffee, iced tea, or iced herbal tea are always safe bets. These natural drinks contain no or very few carbohydrates (sugars). If you want to add a dollop of milk or a vegetable milk substitute, or a hint of sugar, the carbohydrate content will still be low.

Small – medium – large. Make it a habit to check the available sizes before ordering. These differ from one company to another and very often, the small size turns out to be much larger than you would expect! Ask to see the sizes available before ordering. These vary from store to store, and often the smallest size turns out to be bigger than you think! Portion size can make a big difference to the amount of sugar in your iced drink, which can affect your blood sugar levels. So don’t forget to check portion sizes.

Toppings. Whipped cream, ice cream, flavoured syrups, caramel, and chocolate shavings are all very tempting, but they make the amount of sugar and fat added to your drink soar. Instead, opt for foamed milk, cinnamon or cocoa powder, or vanilla or almond extract, if you want to flavour your drink.

Ask and you shall receive. Feel free to make a special request, such as diluting your drink with milk, soy beverage, black coffee or ice. In addition, companies sometimes offer a less sweet or lower fat alternative to their flavoured drinks.

The Nutrition Facts table. Most major coffee chains post the nutritional information of their beverages on their website or at their locations. Check it out; this will help you make an informed choice and adjust your diabetes treatment if needed.

Alternatives to iced coffee

For alternatives to iced drink, try iced herbal teas or iced teas. For a low-sugar iced option, you can buy them in leaves or bags in specialized stores. Although many varieties contain fruit pieces of fruit extracts, the amount is too small to affect your blood sugar. You can enjoy them worry-free!

Ready-to-drink bottled teas or powdered iced teas that you mix yourself are classified as sweet beverages, like juices and soft drinks. Indeed, the amount of added sugar they contain is considerable. Be sure to look at the nutrition label to make an informed choice.

Carbohydrate content of iced drinks

The following table illustrates the carbohydrate content of different iced beverages, either prepared at home, ready-to-drink or available at popular coffee chains.

Type of beverageSizeCarbohydrate content (g)
Regular coffee
Iced regular black coffee (homemade)250 ml0
Iced Caffè Americano, StarbucksSmall (354 ml)1
Flavoured coffee
Iced Coffee (made with milk), Tim HortonsSmall (286 ml)13
Iced Caffè Latte, StarbucksSmall (354 ml)10
Vanilla Bean Flash Cold Brew, Second Cup®Small (360 ml)19
Iced Moka Cappuccino, Tim HortonsSmall (286 ml)58
Caramel Frappuccino® Blended beverage with whipped cream, StarbucksSmall (354 ml)38
Teas and herbal teas
Brewed tea (black, green, white, red)Small (250 ml)0
Brewed herbal tea, various flavours (mint, fruit, flower, etc.)Small (250 ml)0-1
Flavoured teas
Iced Passion Tango Lemonade Tea, StarbucksMezzo (354 ml)17
Flavoured brew teas, various flavours, David’s Tea240 ml0-4
Iced Tea, Second Cup®Small (360 ml)7
Matcha Green Tea Frappé, Second Cup®Small (360 ml)39
Minute Maid® apple juice1 can (341 ml)39
Coca-Cola® 1 can (355 ml)39
Classic lemonade, Tim HortonsSmall (380 ml)28
Slush Puppie, the originalSmall (353 ml)45

In short, it is always possible to find your way among all the varieties and options of iced drinks available. By using the suggested tips, you can experience the joys of summer with your favorite iced drink, without compromising your blood sugar control.