Fall is so close that we can practically taste it, and this means pumpkin spice lattes are taking center stage for the rest of the year.
Because we love pumpkin spice so much, we decided to talk with Laura Burak, MS, RD, author of Slimdown with Smoothies, and founder of Laura Burak Nutrition about how to navigate pumpkin spice season while sticking to our health goals.
"Hooray for pumpkin season again, but pumpkin latte lovers beware because almost every coffee shop is featuring a festive cup of sugar and spice and not much that's so nice (or healthy)," says Burack.
And according to Burak, the #1 worst pumpkin spice latte is the Dunkin Donuts Signature Pumpkin Spice Latte.
"When made with whole milk, this latte takes the lead with a large cup clocking in at 540 calories and 71 grams of sugar," says Burack, "which is almost equal to 5 servings of carbs mostly coming from added sugar, or the equivalent carbs that many of my clients should consume in an entire day."
NUTRITION, per large: 540 calories, 17 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 290 mg sodium, 77 g carbs (0 g fiber, 71 g sugar), 16 g protein
Sugar, spice, and more sugar
"An excess of added sugar in our diet is one of the biggest health concerns in my opinion," says Burak, "and almost every specialty drink on a coffee shop menu is loaded with it."
For example, the Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice Latte has 71 grams of sugar in a large size, and the American Heart Association recommends we only consume about 24-36 grams of sugar per day.
Consistently eating or drinking too much added sugar can lead to many different health complications, including things like type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), and cardiovascular disease.
Some healthier pumpkin spice options
Burak says she wants people "to have their cake and eat it too" when it comes to a healthier diet, so she recommends making some slight changes to your normal pumpkin spice choices so you can still enjoy a festive fall beverage.
"If you're going to order a pumpkin spice latte from places like Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, try ordering a small one with skim milk and ask for fewer pumps of the syrup," suggests Burak.
It's also important to note that sometimes the toppings they add to the lattes can be the most calorie-filled. Burak says to "skip the extra toppings like whipped cream and caramel, and add naturally sugar-free cinnamon powder for flavor and a hit of antioxidants."
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