Many of us eagerly await the launch of everything ‘pumpkin spice.’ This flavor can be found in baked goods, beauty products and beverages. But the original pumpkin spice inspiration came in coffee form.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte (or PSL) is the ultimate pumpkin spice experience and provides comfort with a caffeine jolt to latte lovers.

But your harmless PSL indulgence could be jeopardizing your healthy habits. Here are some nutritional realities about the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

You’re better off eating pumpkin pie. A grande (16-oz) Pumpkin Spice Latte with 2% milk and whipped cream contains 380 calories, 50 grams of sugar and 14 grams of fat. This is two times as much sugar and about 100 extra calories than an actual slice of pumpkin pie. You’re better off with the pie.

Or better yet, save those calories for real foods with more nutritional content that will fuel your activities.

You’re biologically wired to like it. The combination of sugar and fat interact on our taste buds to boost the flavours. That 16-ounce Pumpkin Spice Latte contains one-tenth of the amount of salt you should be consuming in a whole day. Cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves further enhance the taste to make this a flavour explosion that reaches the sensory areas of our brains.

Your brain associates ‘pumpkin spice’ with happiness. Nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves remind us of fall rituals, like picking apples, trick or treating, carving pumpkins. Sipping a PSL takes us down memory lane, comforting us and cheering our moods.

You get a hit of caffeine. Caffeine is a favourite pick-me-up for many. And if you rely on caffeine to boost your energy, the PSL is a great option. Not only that, but caffeine is addictive, so you’ll always crave more.

PSL hacks
Worried about the calories and sugar? Try these options.

  • Remove the whip and save 70 calories – down to 310 calories

  • Switch to nonfat milk and save another 50 calories – down to 260 calories

  • Then choose a tall size instead of a grande to cut back to only 200 calories

Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte
Try making up a mug of this healthier version of a pumpkin spice latte, that uses real pumpkin, healthier ingredients and reduces calories, sugar and fat. It’ll also save you money.

1 cup coffee of choice
½ cup frothed milk of choice (a milk frother is a great investment if you are a latte lover!)
3 tablespoons of organic canned pumpkin
1 tablespoons maple syrup or stevia to desired sweetness
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove and cardamom - you can add more or less depending on your spice preference).
Small splash vanilla (about 1/8 teaspoon)

Mix all ingredients together except frothed milk. Blend with hand mixer or in the blender. Add the frothed milk and gently stir. If you do not own a milk frother, you can blend everything by hand but the milk will not get as foamy and full.