As it becomes sweater weather, visions of pumpkin patches, hay rides, and trick-or-treating dance in our heads. However, it also means another thing is on the horizon: flu season. But what if I told you the secret to getting you through cold and flu season just might be in your morning latte? Yes, pumpkin spice, of all things, has been shown to have immune-boosting properties that'll help you stay healthy.
A classic mix of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger, and allspice, the roots and spices in pumpkin spice have long been the secret to staving off many ailments due to their anti-inflammatory qualities. Dr. Amy Lee, an expert in weight control, obesity and nutrition, said that separately these spices and roots can also help ease nausea and bloating. They are packed with antioxidants, which can help protect your body from oxidative damage from free radicals and help your body fight disease.
Dr. Lee told me that cloves, while unsuspecting, also pack their own nutritional punch. "Evidence shows that cloves help with controlling cholesterol and sugars," said Dr. Lee. "And surprisingly high levels of manganese," which is a mineral found in most multi-vitamins that has been known to help improve immune function.
That being said, quality is important when implementing more pumpkin spice to your flu season routine. Opting for the fresh, raw versions (whether it be cinnamon sticks, raw ginger root, or whole nutmeg, cloves, and allspice) will give you the maximum benefits. "Once something is ground up into a powder form, you kind of lose the full benefits of antioxidants because of the fact that it's exposed to air," said Dr. Lee. "So going fresh, as fresh as possible, is definitely key." Those pre-ground mixes in your cupboards? Save them for your next batch of pumpkin bread.
While the quantities needed to combat the flu aren't quite set in stone in the medical community, consistently using them in your everyday life will help you reap the benefits. The easiest and tastiest route? Using the fresh version of your pumpkin spice blend to steep into a daily tea, something Dr. Lee herself does once flu season comes into view.
"Even a daily couple cups of these teas with these types of roots...it's always a kind of nice foundation, just like everyone who takes like a multivitamin on a daily basis." If you want some extra credit, the cuisines of India and China are well-known for using these spice blends in sweet and savory dishes. When putting chicken madras, lentil dal, and ginger-pork potstickers on the menu also means fighting the flu? Well, that's the ultimate buy-one-get-one-free deal.
Not that we needed another reason to go to Starbucks, but it's nice to know that pumpkin spice latte a day might just keep the doctor away. So do the safe thing, and get your PSL fix a lot this fall.
"Cinnamon is well known for like its ability to improve sugar sensitivity, for example. And so we use a lot of that in our supplements that targets sugar."
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