Your Pancreas On McDonalds Frozen Raspberry Lemonade. It’s Not Pretty.

How Much Sugar Is In That? 

It’s going to be a hot summer and you’ll no doubt do a lot of running around in your car.  Some days the AC won’t keep up with the heat and you’ll need a refreshing beverage.  Don’t let the temptation to run through McDonalds and get one of their frozen raspberry lemonades (that you hear advertised on the radio after every other song) get the best of you.  Just ask yourself, “Do I really need 13 teaspoons of sugar right now?” The answer should be no.  Your pancreas can’t take it.

Here's the sugar. If only I had the raspberries and lemons.

The sweet tea, iced coffee and $1 pop from McDonalds are just as bad.  Here’s the stats on all of those high-sugar drinks:

  • Frozen Raspberry Lemonade – 16 oz – 250 calories; 65 grams of sugar (13 teaspoons)
  • Sweet Tea – 32 oz – 230 calories; 59 grams of sugar (11.8 teaspoons)
  • Iced Caramel Latte –  180 calories; 31 grams of sugar (6.2 teaspoons)
  • Large Coke – 310 calories; 86 grams of sugar (17 teaspoons) – Keep your dollar.

Things aren’t any better at the Taco Bell down the road.  The Lemon and Strawberry Frutista Freeze that covers billboards in every city during the summer is also your pancreas’ worst nightmare.  A 16 ounce lemon strawberry freeze is 280 calories and has 12 teaspoons of sugar.  The mango strawberry frutista is even worse at 300 calories and 14.6 teaspoons of sugar.

Just in case you’re curious – because I was – the summer drink favorite at Starbucks is the Mocha Coconut Frappuccino at 410 calories and 12 teaspoons of sugar.  And that Mountain Dew Slushie that’s so easy to grab when you run into get gas is 240 calories and has 12 teaspoons of sugar.

Your Pancreas On Sugar

When you down a high sugar beverage like the ones mentioned, here your pancreas has to spit out an unusually large amount of insulin to get the blood sugar back to normal.  When we drink too many of these – and one a day is too much – or eat sugary foods, over time the pancreas begins to lose its ability to react.

When too much insulin is released regularly over a long period of time there are several things that occur:  an increase in triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol, lower HDL (good) cholesterol, high blood pressure, increased appetite, obesity, insulin resistance and the risk of development of Type-2 Diabetes.

A combination of these factors creates the perfect storm for Metabolic Syndrome, which is defined as “a collection of heart disease risk factors that increase your chance of developing heart disease, stroke and diabetes”.

The health risks associated with metabolic syndrome are damage to the lining of the coronary and other arteries, an inability of the kidneys’ to remove salt which leads to high blood pressure, increased risk of blood clot formation and a slowing of insulin production which is the precursor to type 2 diabetes.  You have to ask yourself if the drink specials at the fast food places are worth all of that?

A Drinkless Summer

This doesn’t mean that you have to drink water only all summer.  Although H2O is always the best choice, there are some other options that won’t give you sugar overload.  Here are a few suggestions for you:

  • Iced Skinny Latte – Add skim milk and honey to your favorite brewed coffee chilled or try Dunkin Donuts Iced Hazelnut coffee with skim milk – 20 calories and 2 grams of sugar (16 oz.)
  • Flavored Iced Tea – Zero calories and zero sugar.  It’s easy to make your own.  Add flavored tea bags to the ice tea maker or you choose from a variety of flavors from the Honest Tea line.
  • VitaCoco  Coconut Water With Pineapple – Very refreshing at only 80 calories and 20 grams of sugar.
  • Lemonade Slush – Make your own with lemonade concentrate, skim milk, water and ice.
  • Frozen Raspberry Lemonade – The recipe calls for lemonade, raspberries, lime juice, and a 12 ounce carbonated beverage.

Wasting 300+ calories on a sugary drink that has no nutritional value will catch up with your pancreas and your waistline.  Remember that you only need 3,500 additional calories to gain a pound.  It won’t take long to put on – or back on – the pounds at that rate plus the health risks just aren’t worth it.