The arrival of fall has also ushered in pumpkin spice season. And if you're cautious about what you put into your body, there is good news for all pumpkin spice lovers.
Melissa Wall, a chronic disease dietician educator with Southern Health-Santé Sud, explained two of the most common and well-known ingredients that can be combined to make pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and ginger, offer some great health benefits. "Cinnamon is known to be a rich antioxidant and is known to be one of the more potent antioxidants of your spice and herb selections," said Wall. "It's been studied to be even more potent than even garlic and oregano as an antioxidant effect."
Wall said cinnamon is also a natural antimicrobial, so it can even be used as a natural food preservative.
According to Wall, newer studies are also looking at the effect of cinnamon to help blood sugars for diabetics. "It's got a lot potential to help interfere with the hormone response from insulin. Unfortunately, a lot of those studies, we still don't know how much and how often to get that effect."
Wall said experimenting to make your own combination and adding it into your own recipes at home can not only be fun but also is a sure way to know you're getting a healthy treat. She noted there are many ways to enjoy pumpkin spice from adding it to your breakfast cereal, mixing it into a smoothie or your French toast mix. "You can even sprinkle it over some pumpkin seeds with a little bit of oil and brown sugar and roast them for a different taste or treat, even over your popcorn for an evening snack." And if you want a new twist on a roasted vegetable, Wall suggested sprinkling some pumpkin spice over a squash.
As for pumpkin spice treats available at the store or coffee shop, Wall said a lot of products will contain a lot of added sugar or a pump of pumpkin spice fructose syrup, with one pump containing about 5 teaspoons of sugar. "And it's often not always based with the cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg with it."