Pumpkin and Pumpkin Spice the Good, Bad, and The Scary

Fall’s finally here! The leaves are turning different colors, the days are getting shorter and colder. And of course, pumpkin spice is everywhere in everything. Lattes, doughnuts, bread, cereal, creamer and frozen yogurt just to name a few. They even make a pumpkin spice deodorant. (If you want to see how crazy the pumpkin spice craze really is here is a link to 65 different types of things that are pumpkin spice that have no business being pumpkin spiced). But what benefits does pumpkin have? Is it actually that healthy for us? What part of the pumpkin can I actually eat? And is the pumpkin spice additive actually made from pumpkin, or is it artificially flavored pumpkin?

Is it Healthy?

Pumpkin is a winter squash native to North America and belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family (Ramen 1). Many people view the pumpkin as a vegetable it is actually a fruit (it has seeds), and does have several health benefits.

  1. It’s rich in Vitamin A and very nutritious
  2. Pumpkin is packed with Antioxidants, which may reduce chronic diseases
  3. It contains compounds that may promote healthy skin
  4. Pumpkin is very versatile and easy to add to your diet.

Most People Don't Actually Use Any of the Pumpkin

If you’re like most Americans, you go to the pumpkin patch once a year, pick out a nice looking pumpkin, bring it home, clean out its “guts,” and carve a face into the front to make your own personal jack-o-lantern. we tend to just throw out the insides, and then throw the whole thing out after Halloween. People don’t actually bother using the any of the pumpkin they bought for eating purposes, which is a same considering all the benefits listed above.

Did you know?

Nearly 94% of the pumpkin is edible? The only thing you can’t eat is the stalk. Pumpkin guts are a great base for broth or wine, the seeds can be roasted, the flesh can be used to make breads, pies, and soups, and the skin is edible in small varieties (like gem or squash).  How to Eat Pumpkin.

 Gluten Free Pumpkin Recipes:

Vegan Glen Free Pumpkin Coffee Cake:

Almond Flour Pumpkin Muffins

Flourless Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies (Gluten Free and Vegan)

Pumpkin Spice: Fact of Fiction?

There are so many pumpkin spice products that it would be impossible to name them all. But a lot of products are artificially flavored and contain no pumpkin at all. The trick is knowing how to spot the real from the phonies. The first step is always going to be to look at the ingredient list on the back of the package. If you don’t see the word pumpkin on the back, but do see artificial flavor, there’s no pumpkin there. Sometimes the labels will say naturally flavored, but if it doesn’t say pumpkin, you can’t be sure what that means.

There are actually websites devoted to uncovering who has the real ingredients vs. the fakes. Here are some examples of “fake” pumpkin spice products:

  • Gatorade
  • Skittles
  • Doritos
Here are some Pumpin Spice Products that are real.
  • Cheerios
  • Pumpkin Spice Pop Secret Pop-corn
  • Wrigley’s Extra Gum.

(Examples Above Provided by Beardsley, David 1)

Pumpkin Spice and Starbucks:

For as long as Starbucks has had their pumpkin spice latte there has always been a rumor that the flavoring they used was carcinogenic. Well, I’m here to tell you that the rumors are true. Starbucks uses Class IV Carmel Color in many of its beverages; including pumpkin spice (Food Babe 1).

IV Carmel Coloring:

  • It is created in a laboratory using corn sugar, ammonia, and sulfates
  • A S. government study found that feeding mice caramel coloring IV increased their risk of developing lung cancer.
  • It has no nutritional benefits and is only used cosmetically to improve the appearance of food and drinks

(Examples Provided by Vani Hari, Food Babe)


In Conclusion

Fall is a time for bon fires, watching the leaves change color, and enjoying pumpkin. While not everything that is labeled pumpkin is true pumpkin, we can still enjoy it. But we should strive to eat food that is real because real food contains real benefits. We should actively avoid any fake foods that are actually harmful to our health. But the best way to get the benefits from the pumpkin is to simply buy one and carve it up. Remember; most of it is edible.

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Beardsley, David WUSA9Verify: Pumpkin Spice Products – What’s Real and What’s Not” Published 10/6/2017, Accessed 10/2/2020. httpswww://wusa9.com/article/news/verify/verify-pumpkin-spice-products-whats-real-and-whats-not/65-481457725

Hari, Vani, Food BabeYou’ll Never Guess What’s In a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (Hint: You Won’t be Happy). Updated 4/6/2015, Accessed 10/2/2020.

Raman, Ryan, healthline. 9 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin.” Published 8/28/2018, Accessed 10/2/2020.  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pumpkin

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