Pumpkin: Silly Fad or Superfood?

by | Oct 16, 2015

It’s that time of year: pumpkin-spice season. Whether you’re over this food fad or still firmly on board with fall-flavored-everything, we’re here to help you get a grip on the nutrition facts behind this food trend.

Pumpkin: good for the heart
It’s important, first, to distinguish between “pumpkin,” and “pumpkin-spice.” Pumpkin, the gourd, is actually full of good-for-you nutrients. First of all, a single serving provides 245% of your daily value of vitamin A, which boosts eye health. Moreover, the beta-carotene in pumpkin could help reduce the risk of heart disease. As far as weight loss is concerned, pumpkin is definitely a winner, clocking in at just 50 calories for an entire cup — making it a Noom green food.

Pumpkin-spiced sugar bomb
“Pumpkin spice,” on the other hand, usually has very little to do with the healthy stuff. Depending on the context, the pumpkin spice flavor may come from a simple combination of autumnal spices often used in pumpkin pie, like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, or in the case of your favorite latte, could be composed of up to 300 compounds intended to mimic the flavor of actual pumpkin pie.

The real danger isn’t in the pumpkin spice flavor itself, though, but in the sugar often added to pumpkin-flavored foods. For example, Starbuck’s grande-sized pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream is a whopping 380 calories with 50 grams of sugar. A single Dunkin Donuts pumpkin doughnut comes in only slightly better at 360 calories and 39 grams of carbs.

Have your pumpkin and eat it too
Of course, the occasional indulgence won’t derail your healthy eating completely, but going all pumpkin-spice all the time could definitely skew your calorie intake way up this fall. Instead, get your autumn on by upping your servings of real pumpkin and indulging less on artificial and calorie-dense pumpkin-flavored treats. Here are just a few tips to get you started: