A crisp in the air. Dappled trees shedding bright leaves. And the cozy, comforting flavors of pumpkin spice.
If no one else will say it, we will. Fall is the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas propagandist Andy Williams is out of his gourd.
We’re squarely in pumpkin spice season and there are many reasons to indulge. Not just because it tastes so yummy. But because behind the sweetness of your Pumpkin Spice Frap and limited-edition seasonal snacks, there’s a nutritious foundation in the mix. In this article, we’ll take you through the health benefits of the main ingredients for fall’s favorite flavor, PSL pitfalls, and tricks to get the most out of this season’s favorite treat.
Is Pumpkin Good For You?
Yes. There is so much good for you in pumpkin. Just one serving delivers 245% of your daily Vitamin A intake, and more than 10% your daily dose of Potassium, Copper, Manganese, and Vitamins B2, C and E. It’s high in beta-carotine, which helps strengthen your immune system. For all these vitamins and minerals, it’s also low in calories. And it’s versatile! It can be dressed up sweet or eaten savory, in pastries or soups, baked or blended.
What About The Spices?
Different pumpkin spice blends borrow from a rotating batch of aromatic ingredients. Without them, you’re eating straight pumpkin. Which isn’t bad for your health, but can be improved upon. Here are some of the common spices in the pumpkin spice mix, and how they help boost your body and brain function.
Cinnamon is a multi-powered spice that does your body nice. It has been proven to improve memory, enhance cognitive processing, and upgrade attention. All with a side of antioxidant, anti-diabetic and antibacterial properties. Yum!
This pod-like seed contains compounds that boost mood, lower blood pressure and relieve pain. No wonder we’re addicted! Nutmeg also packs B vitamins and minerals.
A proven pain reliever, ginger helps to relieve nausea, reduce inflammation and can even help protect brain cells from Alzheimer’s. It also contains compounds that resemble capsaicin, a spicy food component that has pain-relieving effects.
Ok, allspice has a little gallic acid, which has anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s been used in folk treatments for rheumatoid, but this is the least powerful spice of the bunch. If the spices are the Kardashians, Allspice is Rob. Sorry not sorry, Rob.
What if a medical journal about antioxidants called Antioxidants discovered that cloves... have a ton of antioxidants? Well, that happened. They’re also historically associated with gum health, and bring anti-inflammatory benefits.
The Dark, Sweet Underbelly of PSL
In 2015, Starbucks added an ingredient to their famed pumpkin spice latte. The ingredient? Pumpkin. While many PSLs proudly contain pumpkin and a small amount of seasonal spices, many pumpkin-flavored treats don’t, like Pumpkin Spice flavored Oreos.
The pumpkin spice latte craze sometimes omits the pumpkins, and the spices. Oops! When we lose the actual food part of these treats, we lose all of the health benefits. And often, the main flavor ingredient is simply sugar. A Starbucks Grande PSL has a dastardly 50 grams of sugar, equivalent to 12.5 teaspoons and as much sugar as you should eat in a full day. The downsides of high-sugar diets include inflammation and lowered cognitive functioning. In other words, sugar creates the problems that pumpkin spices solve, and you generally get way more sugar than your do spice.
The Best of Dumpkin Spice Season
The easiest way to healthily indulge in the benefits of pumpkin spice season is to add pumpkins and spices to your food at home. Sprinkle ground cinnamon and nutmeg on your oatmeal or coffee. Add fresh ginger and ground cloves to a stirfry. Make a simple pumpkin soup, or a homemade chai tea latte, which packs many of the same healthy spices we’ve just profiled. If you are craving a classic PSL, try this maple-syrup sweetened homemade PSL recipe, which clocks in at only 15 grams of sugar per serving.
Whether you think pumpkin spice seasoning is basic or classic, the famed flavor combo is undeniably good for the bod. As the days get shorter, it’s smart to nourish yourself with food that packs a multivitamin punch! Be cautious not to over-indulge on the super sugary side of the seasonal trend. Otherwise, we speak for your tummy when we say: pumpkin plus spice equals everything nice. Feel free to indulge in healthy pumpkin spice this season, and you can always clean up your dumpkin with a TUSHY.