How Unhealthy Can Pumpkin Spice Lattes Be? 

How Unhealthy Can Pumpkin Spice Lattes Be? 

The changing of leaves and chillier weather can mean one thing and one thing only: Pumpkin spice lattes are back! PSLs, as the pros call them, are highly sought after during the fall season. Does it get any better than drinking an aromatic PSL while apple picking on a 70-degree weather day in October? Some may argue against that, but many people agree that that scenario is paradise. 

According to a 2019 survey from Green Mountain Coffee roasters, 35% of respondents said they would name their child “Pumpkin Spice” if it meant having the beverage for life. If that doesn’t indicate a collective obsession with PSLs, we don’t know what does. In addition to Starbucks, many coffee shops and chain restaurants have incorporated it into their fall menu. While that may be a positive for the PSL enthusiast, health experts are concerned about the toll this drink takes on the health of the general public. 

What Is In A Pumpkin Spice Latte?

The concept of consuming pumpkin, coffee, and spices is not unheard of. In fact, there are many benefits associated with pumpkins, fall spices, and coffee. Unfortunately, consuming these ingredients separately and consuming them in the form of a PSL is not the same thing. It’s kind of like saying that an apple pie is just as healthy as eating a handful of apples. One is a dessert and the other is a fiber-rich and filling snack. 

Let’s use a 16-ounce PSL from Starbucks as an example. The version with 2% milk and whipped cream has 380 calories, 14 grams of fat, eight grams of saturated fat and contains 50 grams of sugar. Just so everyone is aware, that is about 12 teaspoons of sugar. That not only exceeds the sugar in an average can of soda, but it also exceeds the American Heart Association’s recommendation that women should consume no more than 25 grams of sugar per day. Compare that to a cup of regular black coffee, which has no sugar and no more than 25-50 calories. Sorry to say this, but the PSL, much like the apple pie, is a dessert.

The Calories Don’t Fill You Up

Some data suggests that the calories from a PSL do not promote as much satiety as eating a meal with the same calorie count. Health experts say that people don’t register the calories they drink. In the case of calorically heavy beverages like PSLs, you may experience more intense cravings or hunger later. Not only does regular consumption of the drink lead to weight gain, but so does the unhealthy eating that comes later. Plus, the intense sugar rush you get from a PSL does unhealthy things to your brain. In the worst case scenario, you develop a food addiction. Case in point: there is no benefit you can get out of sugar in your diet. Excess sugar in your diet can lead to low energy, insomnia, cancer, and heart disease. Moderation is key!

Is There A Healthier Way To Enjoy A PSL?

We know that we may have ruined the PSL for everyone, but there are ways to make it healthier. When you order your PSL, ask the barista for half the amount of pumpkin spice sauce. You’ll get the signature pumpkin flavor you crave while lowering your sugar intake. Additionally, cut out more fat, calories, and sugar by opting out of the whipped cream topping. You also have the option to choose a variety of non-dairy milk options. Using coconut milk or almond milk in place of whole milk or 2% milk can be healthier. Just keep in mind that certain non-dairy milk alternatives can contain excess sugar. 

Should you really want to have a healthier PSL, we recommend drinking some chai tea because it has many of the same spices in a PSL. Include a splash of half and half for a creamy alternative and add some raw honey for a dash of sweetness. Just remember that a chai tea from a coffee shop may contain sugary syrups! If you make your own chai tea at home, not only do you save money, but your beverage can be much healthier. So embrace the fall season and start sipping PSLs in a healthier way. Also, as a final note, if you enjoy a regular PSL on a very rare occasion, you should be fine. It’s the daily consumption that causes long-term health problems.

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