How to order a healthy pumpkin spice latte via www.nebraskamed.com
‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice lattes. If you’re a pumpkin spice latte lover, you can’t wait for autumn to arrive and for your local coffee shop to roll out his sweet fall indulgence.
Not only is it warm and delicious on a chilly fall morning, but it also contains pumpkin. So might it be healthy, too? After all, pumpkin is very nutritious. It’s rich in vitamin A and a good source of potassium and fiber. But we all know there’s much more to a pumpkin spice latte than just pumpkin. All the extra ingredients can quickly cause your favorite drink to fall short on the healthy scale.
“It really depends on how you order it and how often,” says Kimmie Sharp, MMN, RDN, LMNT, LD, Nebraska Medicine registered dietitian.
Depending on the coffee shop, one 16 oz. cup of pumpkin spice latte can pack in approximately 400 calories, 13 grams fat, and nearly 60 grams sugar. That’s about double the allowance of added sugars recommended in your daily diet.
Added sugars are sugars and syrups added to foods during preparation or processing as well as at the table. Added sugars provide no nutrients and can lead to extra pounds around the waistline. The American Heart Association recommends the average woman limit her intake of added sugars to 25 grams daily and the average man to 37 grams daily.
While lattes can pack in a lot of sugar and fat, there are ways to make these sweet treats less damaging to your waistline.
How to make a pumpkin spice latte healthier
- Ask for sugar-free syrup
- Reduce the number of syrup pumps added to the drink
- Use a sugar substitute like stevia, aspartame, or sucralose in place of syrup
- Add cinnamon in place of sugar
- Eliminate or decrease the amount of whipped cream
- Ask for nonfat milk or another alternative such as almond, soy, or oat milk
- Avoid coconut milk, which can contain high amounts of fat
- If making your own, choose light whipped cream rather than heavy cream
- Purchase a small cup rather than a large
Health benefits of pumpkin spice lattes
While this fall drink has some pumpkin and spices in it, it’s such a small amount that they don’t provide much in terms of health benefits, says Sharp. The healthiest parts of a pumpkin spice latte are the milk and coffee. “If you have the healthy version, it’s a nice way to get some additional protein in your diet,” notes Sharp.
Skim and soy milk have the most protein and will give you 11 and 12 grams respectively, in a 16 oz. cup. Almond milk, on the other hand, only provides 1.5 grams of protein and oat, 1.5 grams.
If you take out all of the extras and look at the benefits of coffee, you will reap quite a few additional health perks associated with a 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 help with weight loss, and sharpens your mental focus
- May improve mood, brain function and exercise performance
- If consumed regularly, coffee is associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
- A rich source of antioxidants, which can protect against cell damage
- Coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of mortality. This includes deaths from heart disease, nervous system disease and suicide
How to make a healthy pumpkin spice 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 the pumpkin spice latte at home. Try this version and modify it to your taste:
- 1 cup of brewed coffee or one to two shots of espresso
- 1/2 cup of skim milk or milk of your choice
- 3 tablespoons of pumpkin puree – make your own or buy pureed pumpkin
- 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (mix of ground cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg)
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons of sugar-free maple syrup or sweetener of your choice
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
In a saucepan, mix milk and pumpkin. Cook on medium heat or microwave for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla, spices and sweetener. Place in a cup and use a frother to foam the milk. Pour coffee into a large mug and add the foamy milk mixture on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!
“Remember, if you prefer pumpkin spice latte with all the extras, it’s OK to splurge and treat yourself occasionally,” says Sharp. “Just don’t make it a daily habit. Moderation is key.”