Ever since Labor Day, Pumpkin Spice has exploded onto the scene!
Everyone is so excited to get that delicious taste of fall and it seems like it's starting earlier and earlier.
With everything from pumpkin spice Oreos to pumpkin spice cereal and oatmeal, pumpkin spice chips, pretzels and even popcorn - it's hard to escape the trend this time of year.
Of course, the most popular way to enjoy pumpkin spice is in some kind of coffee drink. Whether you've jumped on the pumpkin spice latte bandwagon or not, I wanted to let you in on a little something I learned recently.
That cup of deliciousness may not be exactly what you bargained for. What do I mean?
While coffee has some wonderful health benefits, added with all of the other ingredients, it can be a chemical nightmare.
I’m not here to rain on your pumpkin spiced parade. In fact, the right pumpkin spice latte recipe can serve as an incredibly delicious, energizing and even healthy drink.
The problem is you won’t find this at most coffee shops and convenience stores around the country. And if you’re not doing it right, these seasonal pumpkin spice splurges could be doing a real number on your liver and digestive tract.
The typical 16-ounce pumpkin spice latte made from 2 percent milk and topped with whipped cream from Starbucks contains 50 grams of sugar.
With out-of-control added sugars like this, it’s not hard to see why children, for instance, are averaging 32 teaspoons of sugar a day. (2) In fact, modern-day diseases like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is now traced back to ingesting too much sugar.
But that’s not even the No. 1 pumpkin spiced latte ingredient I want to warn you about …
Pumpkin Spiced Latte Ingredient Public Enemy No. 1
Carrageenan. That’s an ingredient on many pumpkin spiced latte ingredient lists that makes me pause. Often marketed as a “natural” ingredient derived from seaweed, the research suggests we may want to take a closer look.
So what is carrageenan?
Carrageenan is extracted from red edible seaweeds and is widely used in the food industry for gelling, thickening and stabilizing foods and drinks. It’s very popular for use in dairy and dairy replacement products for its strong binding ability to food proteins. It’s banned in infant formula in the European Union, but is used freely in products in the U.S., including organic foods and drinks.(3)
Dairy, almond, coconut and soy milk manufacturers also use carrageenan because it recreates a fatty “mouthfeel” in low-fat or non-fat products.
The problem? Carrageenan is an extremely reliable inflammatory agent and carcinogen. In fact, it’s so inflammatory that researchers often use it to to study the molecular signals involved in cancer and anti-inflammatory drugs. More than 3,800 studies show carrageenan causes inflammation.
In fact, in April 2016, the Cornucopia Institute published summary research exposing the industry’s withheld data showing that even food-grade carrageenan — the kind the industry proclaimed safe for decades — contained the carcinogenic contaminant low-molecular weight poligeenan. Aside from cancer-causing properties, studies show carrageenan causes GI inflammation, a higher risk of intestinal lesions, ulcerations and even malignant tumors. Scientists found carrageenan triggers an immune reaction that causes an inflammatory response in the gastrointestinal system. (4)
This awful additive hides out in the whipped cream in Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte. I recommend avoiding these drinks altogether mainly because of excessive sugar, but if you do grab a small drink for a treat here and there, be sure to say “no whipped cream.”
And while Starbucks is in a lot of hot water over its pumpkin spiced latte ingredient list, including the use of carrageenan, other coffee giants aren’t serving up completely innocent beverages, either.
For instance, Dunkin’ Donuts’ pumpkin spice products contain caramel coloring. This fake food dye is often created by heating a sugar compound with ammonium compounds, acids or alkalis. When produced with ammonia, the contaminants 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole are produced. The World Health Organization classifies these compounds as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” Dunkin’ Donuts also uses high-fructose corn syrup in its pumpkin spice drinks. (5, 6)
The coffee base in pumpkin latte drinks has some wonderful health benefits, but an even bigger health food rockstar is oolong tea! Research has shown that oolong tea links to:
- protection against neurodegenerative diseases
- improved heart health
- cancer protection
- diabetes protection
- ability to fight depression and boost mood
- increased energy and concentration
- better physical performance
- improved asthma control
- lower risk of select gastrointestinal diseases
- weight loss
- immune boosting properties
But the coffee or tea in these specialty drinks is usually tarnished by excessive sugar and often unnecessary ingredients like fake flavors, caramel coloring and carrageenan.
If you want to enjoy an autumn treat EXPLODING with brain-benefiting healthy fats, free radical-fighting spices and digestion-friendly TEA (and without all of the nonsense ingredients), try this Pumpkin Spice Oolong Latte recipe.
Save your health by using our recipe to create your own antioxidant-packed pumpkin spiced latte at home, without all the excess sugar and industrial ingredients.
An added bonus? You'll save money creating these fall drinks at home instead of stopping off at the coffee shop every day!
What is your favorite way to enjoy fall? Let me know in the comments below!
Yours in Health & Happiness,