Few things signal the change of season better than Pumpkin Spice Lattes returning to the Starbucks menu, which happens today. It's one of the few drinks with the power to sway even high-brow coffee connoisseurs, thanks to its heady mix of deliciously creamy, spiced fall flavors. If you can't wait to duck out of the office and sip to the new season, Wired has some worrying news: The cult-favorite drink could be messing with your brain—big time.
While it comes as no surprise that Pumpkin Spice Lattes aren't exactly a healthy choice, growing research suggests swapping your morning coffee for this drink could have serious consequences. Firstly, there's the sugar content. The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar per day. A Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte has 12 teaspoons—yes, double your daily intake goal.
A study by the University of Michigan even suggests high sugar content in processed food could be linked to addiction. "The research is very clear in terms of what happens in the brain when you get this rush of sugar," says Dan Hernroid, a dietitian from the University of California, San Francisco hospital. "Especially when it's in pure, liquid form without enough fiber to help your body absorb it slowly over time, it makes it very easy to get that high."
Additionally, a study by Duke University suggests salt, which is also found in Pumpkin Spice Lattes, could mess with your brain. Researchers found that salt triggers the same nerve cells in a rat's brain as illicit drugs like heroin or cocaine do. Translation: By the time you've finished the drink, your brain has likely experienced a dopamine rush, prompting you to order the same drink again tomorrow. And the cycle continues.
Then there's the fat content. The frothy milk creation is extremely high in saturated fat, and a Grande serving has a massive 40% of your daily intake. Looking to switch up your order? Opt for a Caffe Americano, which contains zero added sugar, or sip on green tea for a caffeine boost minus the calories and cravings.
Check out our favorite Starbucks copycat recipes below:
Starbucks copycat recipes
Starbucks copycat recipes
Starbucks Pumpkin Scones
"These are SO amazing. They taste just like Starbucks'. Do not change a thing! And do not leave out the spice frosting!" -Kabwe Cook
"I love cranberries, and this very easy recipe is a nice way to use them. I tinted the frosting pink by thinning it with cranberry juice. Everything came out great. I know I'll make these again!" -Lynne the Pirate Queen
"One word to sum it up: delicious! Good ol' Starbucks never fails. I just finished baking them 15 minutes ago and have already eaten three! Photos don't do these cookies justice — you have to try them for yourself." -KiwiMegan
"This is wonderful! I was looking for a good excuse to have it, and was happy when my neighbor came to visit. It was perfect! I'm printing and passing the recipe on to my neighbor right now upon her request." -Chef Mommie
"After spending loads on commercially made fruit and nut bars, I'll never buy them again! These are great for a boost of energy when you need it, and they're easy to vacuum seal for on-the-go." -scented08
"I am perhaps the biggest Caramel Macchiato lover in the world. I recently moved to a small town from the big city and was so missing Starbucks — because of this drink! I'm SO glad I found this recipe." -megs_