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Fall induces visions of things like crunchy leaves, jack-o-lanterns and leftover turkey. Increasingly, it also brings to mind Pumpkin Spice Lattes. This year more than ever, Pumpkin Spice Lattes have gained recognition as not just a favorite, but rather an obsession for many. A Venti Pumpkin Spice Latte made with 2% milk has 470 calories, 15 grams of fat (10 of which are saturated) and a shocking 62 grams of sugar. And forget about the “it’s a vegetable” argument — there isn’t actually any pumpkin in the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

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Whether it’s the price, the caffeine, or the calories, I have also noticed that a lot of people are expressing that they need to cut back on coffee. It seems to me the unhealthiness is the worst of the offenses, but the fact of the matter is, your favorite fancy coffee drinks (whether from Starbucks or a local café) can be made healthy with a few minor changes.

Consider these tips the next time you go to order your cup of joe:

  • Choose skim milk to cut calories, fat, cholesterol, and saturated fat. Switching from whole to skim milk on your average *Grande Latte from Starbucks can save you 90 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 30 mg of cholesterol. Even switching from 2% to skim milk in a standard 16 oz. latte can save you 60 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and 25 mg of cholesterol.
  • Avoid adding sugar laden syrups, chocolate or caramel to your beverage. Instead, flavor with cinnamon or vanilla powder which are low in calories and full of flavor and antioxidants, for a healthy coffee update. Cinnamon may also help to control hunger. Often times, coffee shops will also offer sugar free varieties of syrups which can save you calories if you must have the syrups.
  • Do you want whipped cream on that? Saying no can save you about 35-50 calories and 3-4 grams of fat per drink. If you order a coffee drink every day, you can pack on one pound every 3-4 months from whipped cream topping alone. Even avoiding 2 tsp. of caramel or chocolate drizzle on top can save you 35 additional calories.
  • Avoid the *Venti-sized coffee. Ordering large means that you’re ordering a greater amount of calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugar. It also means you are getting a greater amount of caffeine. Moderate consumption of coffee/caffeinated beverages, or about two to three 8 oz. cups of coffee, can fit into a healthy diet. Excessive amounts of caffeine can lead to restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, heartburn, GI distress, or headaches, among other symptoms. Caffeine can also cause acute —but not long term— increases in blood pressure.

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Coffee offers many useful potential benefits including a boost in energy, increased athletic performance, and antioxidants. Drinking coffee is not only an enjoyable daily ritual, but also a great excuse to socialize with friends. It can promote intake of healthy skim milk, which is a great source of calcium. Avoiding the excess sugar and fat in coffee drinks can make them a healthy addition to any day.

*Translation for Starbucks resisters: Venti = Large; Grande = Medium.

Try some of our great fall recipes with your healthier coffee choices:

Or, pick something up at your nearby Great Harvest healthy bakery café:

Find a Location Near You

Hi, I am Melissa! I’m a Registered, Licensed Dietitian and I have been the Nutrition Specialist for Great Harvest since December of 2010. I got my start in nutrition at Colorado State University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Food Science with a focus in Dietetics. I went on to graduate from the Dietetic Internship Program at the Baptist Health System in San Antonio and then work as a Medical Nutrition Specialist in Houston. My love of the outdoors and the opportunity to work at one of Outside Magazine’s Top 100 Best Places to Work brought me to Montana and Great Harvest. My favorite part of my job is being able to work with an amazing group of fun and intellectual individuals who are passionate about making healthy eating a delicious experience while giving back to communities across the country.