The pink drink from Starbucks has become an incredibly popular menu item since its introduction in 2017. But is this brightly colored beverage actually a healthy choice? Here are some key questions answered about the nutritional value and healthfulness of Starbucks’ pink drink:
What is in the Starbucks pink drink?
The main ingredients in a Starbucks pink drink are:
- Coconut milk – The base of the drink is coconut milk, which gives it a creamy tropical flavor.
- Whole strawberries – Strawberry puree is blended into the coconut milk, providing the pink color.
- Ice – The drink is served chilled over ice.
- Liquid cane sugar – A sweetener is added to balance out the tartness of the strawberries.
Some variations may also contain additional ingredients like passion fruit or acai juice. But the core ingredients are coconut milk, strawberries, ice, and a sweetener.
What are the nutrition facts of the Starbucks pink drink?
The nutrition information for a grande (16 oz) Starbucks pink drink is:
|Grande 16 oz
As you can see, the pink drink is high in calories and sugar. A grande has 180 calories and 30g of sugar. It contains 32g of total carbohydrates but no fiber. The drink also provides a small amount of protein (2g) and fat (4.5g).
One of the biggest nutritional concerns with the Starbucks pink drink is the high sugar content. A 16 oz pink drink contains 30g of sugar, which is equivalent to about 7.5 teaspoons. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to no more than 25g (6 teaspoons) per day for women and 36g (9 teaspoons) per day for men.
Fat and cholesterol
The pink drink is relatively low in fat and contains no cholesterol, since it is dairy-free. The 4.5g of fat comes from the coconut milk. Still, the saturated fat content (4g) is 20% of the daily value, so the drink is fairly high in saturated fat.
Is the Starbucks pink drink healthy?
When evaluating the healthiness of Starbucks’ pink drink, there are a few key factors to consider:
- Real fruit – Gets fruit/veggie servings from strawberry puree.
- Non-dairy – Good option for vegans/dairy-free diet.
- Lower calorie – Only 180 calories for a 16 oz.
- No artificial sweeteners – Sweetened with liquid cane sugar.
- Antioxidants – Strawberries provide vitamin C and polyphenols.
- High in sugar – 30g per drink is a lot of added sugar.
- Lacks protein – Only 2g of protein is not very filling.
- No fiber – Doesn’t contain beneficial fiber found in whole fruit.
- High in saturated fat – Coconut milk provides 4g saturated fat.
- Processed – Ingredients are processed and sweetened.
Overall, while the pink drink has some nutritional benefits, it’s quite high in sugar and low in protein and fiber. It’s not the worst choice on the Starbucks menu, but the high amount of liquid sugar makes it hard to call it a truly healthy option.
If you want a more nutritious pink-colored drink, consider making your own healthier version at home. You can blend unsweetened coconut milk with fresh or frozen strawberries, then add non-caloric sweeteners if desired like stevia or monk fruit. Throwing in some protein powder or spinach would also provide more nutritional benefits.
Is the Starbucks pink drink keto-friendly?
The Starbucks pink drink is not keto-friendly and does not fit into a ketogenic diet. Here’s why:
- High carb – Contains 32g total carbohydrates per 16 oz drink.
- Added sugars – Sweetened with liquid cane sugar instead of low-carb sweeteners.
- Doesn’t induce ketosis – That level of carbs takes you out of ketosis.
To stay in ketosis on a ketogenic diet, carb intake must be restricted to around 50g daily. With 32g carbs in one drink, the pink drink would use up most of that allotment.
Some lower-carb modifications could make the drink more keto-friendly, like using sugar-free sweeteners, limiting strawberries, and adding MCT or coconut oil. But in its original formulation, the Starbucks pink drink is too high in carbs to work for a true ketogenic eating plan.
Is the pink drink gluten-free?
Yes, the Starbucks pink drink is gluten-free. It contains no ingredients with gluten.
The base is coconut milk, which is naturally gluten-free. The other main ingredients – strawberry puree, ice, and liquid cane sugar – do not contain gluten or wheat.
Starbucks states that all of their beverages without whipped cream are gluten-free, apart from drinks containing cookie crumble, cake pops, brownies, or blended with wheatgrass. So you can enjoy a pink drink without worrying about gluten intake.
Just note that if you request whipped cream or other dairy toppings on your pink drink, cross-contamination is possible at the store. But the beverage itself is gluten-free without any added toppings.
Does the pink drink have caffeine?
No, the Starbucks pink drink does not contain any caffeine. It’s a non-coffee blended beverage.
Caffeine is mainly found in coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks. The ingredients in the pink drink – coconut milk, strawberries, ice, and cane sugar – do not naturally contain caffeine.
Some customers choose to customize their pink drink by adding shots of espresso. A grande Starbucks drink typically contains 75mg caffeine per shot. So adding espresso would introduce caffeine to the beverage.
But the standard recipe for the pink drink does not include any caffeinated ingredients. So it can be enjoyed any time of day without worrying about disrupting sleep or causing jitteriness from caffeine.
Is the pink drink vegan?
The Starbucks pink drink is vegan when ordered without any customizations that would add animal products.
Here’s what makes it vegan-friendly:
- Coconut milk – All dairy-free and vegan.
- Strawberry puree – Made from fruit.
- Cane sugar – Plant-based sweetener.
- No whipped cream – Non-dairy by default.
Some ways baristas might modify the drink that would no longer be vegan:
- Adding dairy milk or sweet cream
- Topping with whipped cream
- Drizzling caramel or mocha sauce containing dairy
As long as you order a pink drink made according to the original recipe, without any extras containing dairy or animal products, it qualifies as a vegan Starbucks option.
Some vegan-friendly ways to customize your pink drink could include:
- Coconut milk whipped cream
- Soy or oat milk instead of coconut milk
- Strawberry infusion instead of strawberry puree
- Agave or maple syrup for added sweetness
Is the pink drink good for weight loss?
The pink drink isn’t the best option for supporting weight loss, for a few reasons:
- High-calorie – A 16 oz drink contains 180 calories.
- High sugar – 30g sugar in one serving is very high.
- Lacks protein – Only 2g protein isn’t filling or muscle-supporting.
- No fiber – Fiber improves satiety and aids weight control.
For a beverage support weight loss, it’s best to aim for options under 50 calories with at least 5-10g protein and 3-5g fiber per serving. The Starbucks’ pink drink doesn’t really check any of those boxes.
While lower in calories than some blended coffee drinks, the pink drink’s high liquid sugar content can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes which stimulate hunger and cravings. Going sugar-free or limiting yourself to a mini size could make the pink drink more weight loss friendly.
To lighten up the pink drink, you could:
- Ask for less pumps of liquid cane sugar
- Request light coconut milk
- Do an unsweetened version
- Opt for a smaller size like a Mini (10 oz)
Does the pink drink have artificial sweeteners?
No, the Starbucks pink drink is sweetened with liquid cane sugar and does not contain artificial sweeteners.
Some customers think it must be artificially sweetened to be that low in calories and carbs. But in fact, the pink drink achieves its lighter profile through being made with coconut milk rather than dairy, and using light strawberry puree rather than sugary juice.
The original recipe only calls for a couple pumps of liquid cane sugar rather than artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, stevia or sucralose.
That said, you can request sugar-free syrups to make a lower-calorie and lower-glycemic index pink drink. Opting for a zero-calorie sweetener isn’t mandatory though, since liquid cane sugar keeps it free of artificial sweeteners.
Natural sweetener alternatives
If you want to cut calories but stick with natural sweeteners, ask for your pink drink made with:
- Monk fruit extract
- Stevia extract
- Agave nectar
- Maple syrup
Is the pink drink low FODMAP?
The Starbucks pink drink is not inherently low FODMAP, but it can be customized to be FODMAP-friendly.
A low FODMAP diet limits fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. People with IBS often follow a low FODMAP diet to improve gut health and reduce digestive symptoms.
By default, the pink drink contains high FODMAP coconut milk. But you can make it low FODMAP by requesting:
- Non-dairy milk like lactose-free cow’s milk, soy milk or almond milk.
- Light ice or no ice (the high-fructose puree makes ice high FODMAP).
- Only 1 pump of classic syrup sweetener.
With those modifications, you can enjoy a customized pink drink that fits into a low FODMAP eating pattern if you have IBS or are doing an elimination diet.
The Starbucks pink drink has quickly become popular for its flavor, color and photo-friendly aesthetic. But is it actually healthy? While it provides antioxidants from fruit and is vegan and low-calorie, the high amount of added sugar is concerning. The pink drink is also not very high in protein or fiber. So it’s not the best choice for weight loss or blood sugar control.
Occasionally enjoying a pink drink as a treat is fine. But there are better options for a daily beverage, like an unsweetened fruit tea, low-sugar protein shake, or simply water with lemon. Avoid making the pretty pink drink an everyday habit, and when you do indulge, go for a smaller size or reduce the sweetener.