There’s a lot to look forward to in the fall – fresher air, changing colors, not to mention the sweet smell of pumpkin spice lattes. We admit, they are delicious, but are they healthy?
Unfortunately, the average pumpkin spice latte is far from a healthy drink. It’s not that the typical ingredients of expresso, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove are unhealthy; it’s the massive amount of sugar in the drink that is the problem. “A 16-ounce Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream has 390 calories and 50 grams of sugar – that’s 12 teaspoons,” remarked Christine Castle, a registered dietitian and nutrition supervisor at Reliant Medical Group. “The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day and men no more than 36 – so you can see what the issue is. You are basically having a big, sugar-laden dessert in a cup!
The primary problem with all high-calorie, sugar-laden drinks is that they are digested quickly and can cause a fast rise in your blood glucose levels. This can lead to weight gain down the road – among other more serious health problems. That’s why doctors and nutritionists recommend you cut down on your sugar consumption as much as possible.
The other issue with pumpkin spice lattes is that they really don’t contain much pumpkin. They are usually made with just a small amount of pumpkin puree, so you hardly get any of the fiber, vitamin A, lutein, and antioxidants that make real pumpkin healthy.
Are there other ways to enjoy this fall favorite?
Yes! You can make your pumpkin spice latte a little healthier by asking the barista to use only half the amount of pumpkin spice flavoring, which is the ingredient that carries the sugar.
You can also make your own version of a pumpkin spice latte at home. This allows you to control all the ingredients. Try making a coffee or expresso and topping it with pure whipped cream and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice. Using skim or non-fat milk instead of whipped cream is also an option. Adding a little canned pumpkin to some whipped cream and frothing it up before adding it to the latte is also a good way to get the flavor without all of the sugar.
So, you don’t have to give up your fall favorites if you get creative and make some simple and delicious modifications!