Not all pumpkin spice products are created equal

Enjoy the seasonal favorite without sacraficing your diet

Pumpkin spice products are fall favorites and seem to be popping up everywhere. Real pumpkin spice is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

Some products touting pumpkin spice are often nothing more than artificial flavors and sugar.

Added sugars add calories but no nutrients and research has shown a strong association between added sugar consumption and heart disease.

Before you buy, check the label

"See what's in it and make sure that you're getting the spices and not necessarily the added sugars and flavors," explained Lindsay Malone, RD, a dietitian at Cleveland Clinic.

Spot added sugar on the ingredient label by checking for anything listed as "syrup."

Added sugar may also be disguised as an ingredient that ends in "O-S-E,' so watch for things like "sucrose," "maltose," or "fructose."

It's best to look for the actual names of the spices on a product's ingredient list and the word "pumpkin."

Real pumpkin spice is a natural way to get the taste and aroma of the season and may benefit your health.

"Cinnamon has been shown to help manage stable blood sugar in people with diabetes," said Malone. "Lab studies show it also functions as an anti-inflammatory."

Have your pumpkin spice latte, but avoid crashing your diet

A latte can be a good source of protein, because milk is a main ingredient. At the same time, this drink can be high in fat, sugar and overall calories. The fat content comes from the milk, while sugar comes from the added flavorings.

If you enjoy pumpkin-spiced coffee drinks, here are some tips:

  • Add natural spice to your drink instead of the flavored syrup
  • Choose skim or soy milk
  • Hold the whipped cream