Fall season is the time for pumpkin spice – everything.
But how can we know if what we’re getting actually has any real pumpkin in it at all?
Beware of added sugars
According to Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD of Cleveland Clinic, real pumpkin is good for us, but most of what we see in the store or at the local coffee shop is artificial flavoring.
“Pumpkin in and of itself is actually very healthy,” said Kirkpatrick. “It has tons of beta-carotene, vitamin A, a lot of nutrients, a lot of nutrient density, but when you have a pumpkin flavored drink, they’re probably not taking that actual pumpkin and putting it in your drink.”
Kirkpatrick said that with many of the ‘pumpkin spice’ products on the market, there’s not only added flavoring, there is often a lot of added sugar as well.
She says real pumpkin is flavorful and added sugars can delete the health benefits of the real thing.
Nothing beats the real thing
Instead of looking for pumpkin spice products on store shelves, Kirkpatrick said to try using real pumpkin in the kitchen.
Real pumpkin can be put into smoothies, muffins, cookies, and even oatmeal, but it’s best to be careful not to use pumpkin pie filling, because that also has added sugars.
Kirkpatrick said real pumpkin spice is actually good for us too. It contains cinnamon and nutmeg and can be sprinkled on as a topping to give treats that extra fall flavoring.
“Spices are very anti-inflammatory,” said Kirkpatrick. “Cinnamon, in particular, can help with keeping blood sugar more even keel, but don’t confuse pumpkin spice with the pumpkin spice latte or the pumpkin spice muffin or cookie.”
Kirkpatrick said when looking to buy actual canned pumpkin in the grocery store, the best thing to do is look at the ingredients. If there is more than one ingredient, the product contains something more than just pumpkin.