Put Down the Pumpkin Spiced Latte and Reach for REAL Pumpkin

The beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte has a dab of real pumpkin this year, but you can still do so much better than a PSL. Here's how.

September 30, 2015
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Do you remember everyone’s *horror* last year when Food Babe blogger Vani Hari pointed out that Starbucks doesn’t even use real pumpkin in their Pumpkin Spice Latte(!)? Well, this season, Starbucks decided to heed the cries of the masses and revamp its ingredients, using a tiny touch of pumpkin puree in its pumpkin spice sauce. (Cue fist pumps.)

For the record, it wasn’t a shock to me that there was no pumpkin in our national treasure, PSLs. There are so many artificial ingredients and similar-tasting sugary concoctions out there, it was actually pretty expected. I also don’t think that a little bit of real pumpkin is enough to transform the Pumpkin Spice Latte into a healthy cup o’ joe.

Take a look some of the stats on a grande PSL with 2% milk and no whip: 310 calories, 7 grams of fat (4 grams saturated fat), and 48 grams of sugar. And that’s before you eat breakfast. Yikes.

No, you don’t need to completely swear off Pumpkin Spice Lattes if they’re your jam. An occasional indulgence that you plan into your weekly dietary regimen is completely okay. However, I think we should take a look at the merits of that ingredient everyone was asking Starbucks to include in its drinks: pumpkin.

Let’s break down some of pumpkin’s benefit-packed joys, because it’s a delicious and nutritious fall superfood:

Pumpkin’s nutritional profile is stellar.

We analyzed the PSL’s nutrition data, now let’s turn to real pumpkin. For just one cup cooked of this smooth, sweet veggie, you’re looking at just 49 calories, no fat and just 2 grams of sugar. It’s a far cry from that latte, especially when you consider you’re also filling 245% of your daily vitamin A needs, and 19% of your daily vitamin C.

Pumpkins are high in filling fiber.

Ask any dietitian. Getting ample fiber in your diet is always a key weight loss tip, because it keeps you fuller for longer. Pumpkin has a hearty dose of it, with 3 grams per cup serving. So if you’re looking to slim down, adding pumpkin to a meal or snack is a good start.

Pumpkins can ward off disease and illness.

Both long-term and short-term, pumpkins may carry a host of immunity benefits. With an ample dose of vitamin C, pumpkins might help keep colds away this flu season. They’re also high in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which some studies show may help lower the risk of certain cancers. (In addition, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which helps boost vision. Bonus!)

Pumpkins can help your heart and glucose levels.

Studies have regularly shown that diets high in fiber can help your heart stay strong and healthy, lowering bad cholesterol and keeping blood pressure in check. More research has indicated pumpkin may also help lower glucose levels, which could be notably important for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

The fact that pumpkin tastes good and packs that many benefits? Almost too good to be true. Add in all the ways you can whip it up, and I’m even happier.

You don’t have to get crazy. You can throw pumpkin puree into a fall smoothie, add some to your oats in the morning (or do crockpot pumpkin oatmeal! nomnom), stir it into homemade hummus, or even whip up your own healthier PSL.

Have I convinced you yet? It’s time to embrace the vegetable of the season — not just decorate with it, or pick up foods with pumpkin flavorings. Happy Fall, y’all.

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