It probably comes as no surprise that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is Starbucks' most popular seasonal drink. Everything about pumpkins - the color, the aroma, the savory flavor - screams fall. So every year coffee enthusiasts eagerly await the release of this highly anticipated beverage, then flock to the coffee shop as soon as it becomes available. At least that is how it has gone for the better part of the last 12 years, since its inception in 2003.
But the Pumpkin Spice Latte isn't your average Cup O' Joe. Recently, the beloved libation has come under fire for the large amount of calories (380) and sugar (50g) it contains. Health and fitness professionals are urging people to consume it like they would any dessert: in moderation. And while most health professionals are worried about the damage the Pumpkin Spice Latte can do to people's waistlines, dentists are more concerned with the impact it could have on their patients' teeth.
The bad news is that any way you look at it, the amount of sugar in your beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte, along with the length of time you spend sipping it down, is a recipe for tooth decay. The good news is that you can still satisfy your autumnal craving for pumpkin goodness by preparing and consuming it in different, delicious, healthier ways — and actually improve your dental and overall health while doing it.
Zinc keeps your bones strong. Zinc deficiency is associated with poor dental health, weak bones and bleeding gums. Other problems associated with zinc deficiency include weakened bones, a loss of hair, and anemia. 1 oz of roasted pumpkin seeds (about 85 seeds) gives you 3 mg of zinc, or about a third of your daily needs.
Iron, which is found in pumpkin seeds, keeps your tongue healthy.
Magnesium takes care of your tooth enamel. Magnesium works with calcium to create a hard enamel that resists tooth decay. Calcium alone is less effective in forming a hard enamel. Magnesium is also a key element in bone production, the immune system, and even keeping the heart in rhythm. Only one ounce of pumpkin seeds provides more than a third of your daily magnesium needs.
Vitamin A promotes healing, which is helpful for damaged gums. One cup of pumpkin gives you all the vitamin A you need in a day.
Vitamin C: 20% of your needed daily allowance is found in 1 cup of pumpkin. This vitamin fortifies your immune system, which helps starve off infections and inflammation in your mouth.
Pumpkin seeds: From the store or straight from the gourd, these baked snacks are packed with flavor and good-for-your-teeth vitamins. They are easy to prepare and pack for lunch or an in-between-meal snack.
Pumpkin smoothie: Incorporate canned pumpkin into your breakfast or workout smoothie. It pairs well with coconut milk and almond butter. Throw in some pumpkin spice and maple syrup and your morning meal will be transformed into a healthy liquid version of the traditional pumpkin pie.
Baked pumpkin: You can make a tasty meal out of pumpkin by simply baking it with cinnamon and adding a little bit of butter. Pumpkin works as the main course but is also perfect as a side dish.
Pumpkin seed oil: One easy way to enjoy the health benefits that pumpkin has to offer is by incorporating pumpkin seed oil into your cooking. It adds a nutty seasonal taste to whatever dish you are preparing and is perfect for keeping you in that seasonal holiday mood.
About Dr. Neal