This is pumpkin spice latte season. If you’re a fan of pumpkin lattes, you can’t wait for fall to arrive and for your local coffee shop to roll out the ultimate fall fun.
Not only is it warm and delicious on a cool fall morning, but it also has pumpkin. Could it be healthy, too? After all, pumpkin is very nutritious. It is rich in vitamin A and a good source of potassium and fiber. But we all know that pumpkin spice latte is so much more than just pumpkin. All the additional ingredients can quickly cause your favorite healthy drink to fall short.
“It really depends on how you order it and how often,” says Kimmie Sharp, MMN, RDN, LMNT, LD, and Nebraska Medicine.
Depending on the coffee shop, one is 16 oz. A cup of pumpkin latte can contain 400 calories, 13 grams of fat, and nearly 60 grams of sugar. That’s about double the allowable amount of added sugars recommended in your daily diet.
Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods during preparation or processing as well as at the table. Added sugars do not provide any nutrients and can lead to weight gain around your waist. The American Heart Association recommends that the average woman limit her intake of added sugars to 25 grams per day and the average man to 37 grams per day.
While lattes can contain a lot of sugar and fat, there are ways to make these sweet foods less harmful to your waistline.
How to make a healthy condiment pumpkin latte
- Order a sugar-free drink
- Reduce the number of syrup pumps added to the drink
- Use a sugar substitute such as stevia, aspartame or sucralose instead of syrup
- Add cinnamon instead of sugar
- Eliminate or reduce the amount of whipped cream
- Ask for skim milk or another alternative such as almond, soy or oat milk
- Avoid coconut milk, as it can contain high amounts of fat
- If making your own, choose light whipped cream instead of heavy cream
- Buy a small cup instead of a big one
Health benefits of pumpkin spice latte
While this fall drink does have some pumpkin and spice, it’s a small amount that doesn’t provide much in terms of health benefits, Sharp says. The healthiest parts of a pumpkin latte are milk and coffee. “If you have the healthy version, this is a good way to get some extra protein in your diet,” Sharp notes.
Skim milk and soy have the most protein and will give you 11 and 12 grams, respectively, in a 16 ounce serving. cup. Almond milk, on the other hand, provides only 1.5 grams of protein and oats provide 1.5 grams.
If you take all the extras and look at the benefits of coffee, you’ll reap some additional health perks associated with your regular java habit as long as you keep things in moderation. According to the American Heart Association, these include:
- Thanks to caffeine, coffee gives you energy, may aid in weight loss, and increase your mental focus
- May improve mood, brain function and exercise performance
- If coffee is consumed regularly, it is associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s
- Rich source of antioxidants that can protect against cell damage
- Coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death. This includes deaths from heart disease, nervous system disease, and suicide
How to make a healthy pumpkin latte at home
If you want to avoid the coffee shop altogether and save a little money, you can make your own healthy version of pumpkin spice latte at home. Try this version and modify it to your taste:
- One cup of brewed coffee or a shot or two shots of espresso
- 1/2 cup skim milk or milk of your choice
- 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree – make your own or buy pureed pumpkin
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (a mixture of ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons sugar-free maple syrup or sweetener of your choice
- cinnamon pinch
In a saucepan, mix the milk and pumpkin. Cook over medium heat or in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from heat. Add vanilla, spices and sweeteners. Put it in a cup and use the foam to froth the milk. Pour the coffee into a large mug and add the frothy milk mixture on top. Sprinkle cinnamon and enjoy!
“Remember, if you prefer a pumpkin spice latte with all the toppings, it’s okay to show off and treat yourself once in a while,” Sharp says. “Just don’t make it a daily habit. Moderation is key.”