Food Is Not Your Enemy

Pumpkin Spice: Naughty or Nice?
November 16, 2017, 11:05 am
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle, Sweets | Tags: ,

Let me say up front that my newsletter this month is not going to weigh in on the “pumpkin spice wars” and make value judgments about people who like pumpkin spice vs. those who do not. I personally do not like pumpkin spice—you will never see me so much as sniffing at a piece or pumpkin pie or a pumpkin spice latte—but if you enjoy this combo of spices, good for you! Because the spices commonly used in pumpkin spice—cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, among them—actually have great health benefits. Lucky for me, I do enjoy these spices separately in other settings, and you can too—cinnamon is great on top of oatmeal, coffee, or sweet potatoes, for instance, and ginger is indispensable in a good stir fry and many an Indian dish.

Be forewarned—the classic Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte with whipped cream (grande size) has 380 calories and 50 grams of sugar (that translates to over 12 teaspoons of sugar). There are healthier ways to get these spices into your diet, for sure, like a simple plain chai tea with maybe just a splash of milk.

Here are some of the positive effects that these sweet spices can have on our health, according to Harvard Medical School …

Cinnamon. The most popular of the pumpkin-themed spices, cinnamon has antioxidant, antidiabetic, and antibacterial properties. It has been found to reduce inflammation and improve brain function.

Cloves. Cloves are an antioxidant powerhouse, containing more antioxidants than virtually any other food or spice. They have antifungal and antimicrobial properties. And a compound found in cloves has been shown to be more powerful than aspirin in helping to prevent blood clots.

Nutmeg. Nutmeg contains compounds that help boost mood, relieve pain, and lower blood pressure. It may also help slow cognitive decline in people suffering from Alzheimer’s. Added to a little warm milk, nutmeg can help aid sleep.

Ginger. Ginger can help relieve pain, and is a well-known remedy for nausea and upset stomach. It’s also good for improving memory and focus.

Cardamom. Another spice with antioxidant and antibacterial properties, cardamom has also been found to help lower blood pressure and risk of stroke.

So enjoy these warming, sweet spices—just watch the sugar that often comes with them!