Your Pumpkin Spice Obsession is Damaging Your Smile

Here’s what you need to know

Is your smile lackluster heading into the holidays?

While the cozy season has only just begun, your favorite festive treat is already wreaking havoc on those pearly whites.

Whether you love it or hate it, the pumpkin spice season is officially in full swing– in fact, it starts earlier each year. 

By mid-August, it seems like everything is infused with pumpkin spiced goodness, and it beckons its fans who’ve waited all year to finally indulge.

If you’re among those who are taking selfies with your mug full of Starbucks’ autumnal PSL, you might want to know what your guilty pleasure is doing to your teeth.

There are plenty of alternative ways to get your pumpkin spice fix without compromising your oral health. Read on to learn more.

Firstly, you are definitely not alone if you can’t get enough of that sweet and spiced, creamy espresso beverage. Starbucks introduced this signature drink 14 years ago and since then it has been purchased more than 200 million times. 
The cult fan base grew into a massive social media movement, which now includes the drinks’ own verified Twitter account (@TheRealPSL).

Because of its success, the food and drink industries have jumped on the pumpkin spice bandwagon by expanding their offerings each fall.

Nearly a half-billion dollars in pumpkin-flavored products were sold in the United States in 2018. Pumpkin spice fans can enjoy almost everything pumpkin these days, there’s even pumpkin spice Spam, deodorants, and essential oils!

With a reputation as being beloved all over the world, it may be surprising that there is a downside to your favorite festive beverage. The nasty nutritional facts behind the trend have been recently exposed.

While it’s true that the actual spices blended to create pumpkin spice are relatively low in calories and have nutritional benefits, most foods and drinks bearing the name are far from innocent. 

The nutritional content of most pumpkin spice products is shocking and may have a bigger effect on your health than you think.

It’s hard to believe, but pumpkin spice lattes may be worse for you than digging into a huge bowl of trick-or-treat candy.

“Pumpkin itself is healthy. Cinnamon and nutmeg are fine. But pumpkin spice lattes are about sugar,” said Katie Ferraro, R.D., M.P.H., a dietitian, nutrition consultant, and assistant clinical professor of nutrition at the University of California, San Francisco, and the University of San Diego. Let’s break down the scary secrets of your pumpkin spice latte and how it’s impacting your smile:

Espresso, the main ingredient in this beverage is acidic, it can permanently erode the enamel on your teeth and stain them.

A 16-ounce size (Grande) of Starbucks’ version of PSL with 2 percent milk and whipped cream has 380 calories and contains a whopping 50 grams of sugar.

Cavities are the least of your worries though, that far exceeds the American Heart Association’s recommendation that women consume no more than 25 grams of sugar each day (35 grams for men). If you’re picking one up on your morning commute every day, you can imagine the negative impact it’s having on your health.

This holiday we could all use a little pick-me-up, so you might be pleased to know that you don’t have to quit your PSL habit cold turkey.

Dietitians released some hacks to enjoy the pumpkin spice flavors without the high caloric, sugar-loaded punch. Don’t forget to share these tips with your fellow PSL lovers, they’ll thank you later:

  • Use delicious festive pumpkin spice creamers in your coffee which are easier to portion control
  • Make the drink at home so you can control the ingredients (and capture the step by step for cozy seasonal social media content)
  • Instead of consuming the sugary flavorings in a typical pumpkin spice latte, you can top your coffee with pure whipped cream and spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and allspice. Another option is to top your coffee with frothy milk and those signature spices.
  • Using almond milk or cashew milk is a good option that can bring down the calories, as can skim or nonfat milk. If you’re wanting to treat yourself more healthily, you could trade the milk calories for whipped cream.
  • For a more health-conscious substitute, try a pumpkin spice chai.
    Combine one cup of milk, one chai tea bag, ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, ¼ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup in a pan. Stir while heating on the stove but be careful not to bring it to a boil.

If you really can’t skip that pumpkin spice latte, we don’t blame you. Sometimes you just have to satisfy that pumpkin craving!

Enjoy your PSL for a special occasion and be prepared to give your teeth a little extra TLC afterward.

This is this best time of year to visit your dentist for professional teeth cleaning or invest in an at-home whitening kit, so you’re ready for the indulgent holiday season ahead.

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