Melissa Talley, Dietetic Intern
In case you haven't noticed those pumpkin-flavored items sneaking to the front of the grocery store aisles or that PSL sign in front of your local Starbucks, it is indeed that time of year again. That time where pumpkin flavor trumps all flavors and whether you are a supporter or opposer of this phenomenon, you can’t escape the power of the pumpkin. Here is your guide to help satisfy your pumpkin cravings this season, the right way.
Pumpkins are a great source of fiber, vitamin A and potassium. Fiber correlates with a lower risk of coronary heart disease and potassium helps lower blood pressure by flushing out excess sodium and fluid, easing pressure on the arterial walls. In addition, increased intake of vitamin A supports a healthy immune system and promotes better vision, especially night vision. However, just because an item is labeled "pumpkin," does not mean it has any of the pumpkin's great benefits. Pumpkin-labeled items are often loaded with additives and sugar that reduce possible health benefits of the pumpkin or do not contain any at all. Here is your guide to help satisfy your pumpkin cravings this season, the right way:
Look out for:
The word “spice”
Often times desserts and snacks labeled, “pumpkin,” do not actually have pumpkin content in them. The word “spice” is an additive to give the item the aroma of a pumpkin, however, it does not contain any health benefits that pumpkin has to offer.
Sugar & Fats
Many desserts, such as pumpkin muffins, pumpkin spice yogurts, and pumpkin spice granola bars often have >15g sugar per serving. Make sure you look at the sugar and saturated fat content as well as where sugar falls on the ingredient list. If it is one of the first items listed, reconsider that product.
Pumpkin Coffee & Lattes
Yes, I am talking about the iconic pumpkin spice latte! Just because it is pumpkin flavored does not mean it has fewer calories. A 16 oz Grande PSL contains 2% milk, pumpkin syrup, and whipped cream leaving you with a 400 calorie cup of coffee. Here are some tips to help satisfy your craving, while making you feel better:
If you really enjoy the taste of pumpkin and are looking for ways to incorporate it this season without the risk of artificial flavoring, added sugars, and saturated fats, try making pumpkin-flavored snacks or desserts in your home!
Healthy Pumpkin Alternative Snacks:
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Pumpkin Oat-greek yogurt muffins
Cinnamon-Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Terps With Taste is run by the Student Nutritionist Team with University of Maryland Dining Services. We write content for students, by students. Enjoy!