A PSA about PSLs: unhealthy ingredients

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This is the time of year for a concoction of caffeine, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and a whole load of sugar…also known as one of Starbucks’s most popular seasonal drinks, the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL).

While this special delight appeals to our taste buds, what may surprise people is how unhealthy the drink is. A 16 ounce Grande contains 380 calories and 50 grams of sugar. That’s even more than a soda of the same size. And it also contains preservatives and sulfiting agents that can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Despite this, Starbucks has sold over 200 million cups of the sugary drink since 2006, generating over $80 million in revenue per year.

But, never fear—here are some ways that you can make a PSL healthier.

  1. Remove the whipped cream. If you can’t part with your weekly (or daily) Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, this is an easy way to cut your calorie intake from the drink by 20 percent.
  2. Instead of using whole milk, which is much higher in calories, ask the barista to substitute it with nonfat or 2% milk. Or go with the vegan option and consider getting almond milk, instead. While soy is another alternative, it has the same number of calories as regular milk, so if you choose it as a substitute, it should be for taste, not health.
  3. Make your own PSL! Use Stevia, which is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute. There are no known risks of replacing sugar with Stevia—only a list of benefits including having zero calories, balancing blood sugars and lowering blood pressure.

Another important thing to note is that, while the pumpkin spice latte certainly is bad for you, so are many drinks from Starbucks—even ones sold year round. Most of them are very high in calories and contain well over the daily recommended amount of sugar. So if you really need that boost of caffeine in the morning, think twice before ordering a sugary drink that’s high in calories, and maybe consider making black coffee or plain tea at home.