Bubble milk tea is bad for your health! At least, that's what a Singapore hospital is warning boba fans

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A private hospital published an article warning citizens about the sugar content of the popular sweet treat and their toppings

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Drinking bubble tea regularly can increase the risk of developing chronic diseases, Singapore’s Mount Alvernia Hospital warns.

Sweet-toothed bubble tea lovers, look away now: the sugary drink has grown so popular in Singapore that a hospital in the island city state is urging consumers to modify their orders to make them healthier.

Mount Alvernia Hospital – a private, not-for-profit tertiary care medical institution – published an article on its website on this month comparing the sugar and calorie levels of various types of bubble tea and their toppings. It later posted an infographic of the article on Facebook following “overwhelming requests” from visitors.
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Happy Friday! Due to overwhelming requests from last week's post, we have done up a simple guide for easier viewing and...

Posted by Mount Alvernia Hospital on Friday, 12 July 2019

In the article, the hospital warned Singaporeans against the sugar content of bubble tea – a drink that has become “ubiquitous” and “wildly popular” there in recent years.

It acknowledged that green and black tea were indeed helpful in reducing the risk of diseases such as diabetes, arthritis and cancer, but warned that bubble tea (which contains sugar, milk and non-dairy creamer) could actually increase the risk of chronic diseases.

Non-dairy creamer is a milk substitute that contains trans fat in the form of hydrogenated palm oil. This oil has been strongly correlated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, the hospital said.

One serving of bubble tea has more sugar than the daily recommended intake.
Photo: Facebook/Mount Alvernia Hospital

It added that the number of calories in a medium-sized cup of bubble tea were equivalent to a slice of cheesecake and advised consumers to limit their intake to two cups a week.

The worst choice? 

The hospital compared the sugar level in seven types of bubble tea orders, and found that the unhealthiest option by far was brown sugar milk tea with pearls.

This drink contained 18.5 teaspoons of sugar.

The second most unhealthy option was winter melon tea, at 16 teaspoons of sugar.

Toppings for bubble tea make them even more sugar and calorie dense.
Photo: Facebook/Mount Alvernia Hospital

The daily recommended sugar intake for children and teenagers is 5 teaspoons, while it is 8 to 11 teaspoons for adults.

And while fruit-based drinks might seem healthy, they were in fact worse choices: passion fruit green tea (8.5 teaspoons) and jasmine green tea with fruit toppings (8.5 teaspoons) outranked milk tea with pearls (8 teaspoons) in sugar content.

To counter any cravings for sugary drinks, the hospital advised consumers to pick bubble tea shops that allowed them to change the sweetness level of the drinks and slowly reduce the sugar level to “train” their taste buds.


Foam toppings have even more calories than pearls

Apart from the drinks themselves, the hospital also compared the calorie content of various toppings.

The toppings with the highest calories were milk foam (203 calories) and cheese foam (180 calories), beating out the classic option of black tapioca pearls (156 calories).

The lowest-calorie topping in the list was aloe vera, at 31 calories.

A guide to the best - or at least tastiest - bubble tea in Hong Kong

The hospital warned that toppings such as jellies and pearls were kept in a sweet syrup to keep them moist, which added to the drink’s sugar and calorie count.

Mount Alvernia Hospital warns that toppings such as jellies and pearls are kept in a sweet syrup to keep them moist, which adds to the drink’s sugar and calorie count

It added that new trends such as honey pearls or brown sugar syrup increased the drink’s sugar content even more.

5 tips ordering healthier bubble tea

The hospital offered these suggestions for enjoying the drink with less risk to your health.

  1. Choose a smaller cup size
  2. Pick “plain” green tea, oolong tea or black tea
  3. Ask for 30 per cent sugar levels or less
  4. Ask for fresh, low-fat or skimmed milk instead of non-dairy creamer
  5. Avoid toppings, or pick lower-calorie options such as aloe vera and white pearls

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

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