|Image from LearningHerbs.com|
Twenty years ago, Starbucks accidentally launched a phenomenon that was simply meant for a season. Long before hashtags helped a brand go viral, the Pumpkin Spice Latte aka #PSL became the unique underdog that now defines fall. I thought it may be fun to look at the ingredients and medicinal uses of the PSL recipe. Starbucks team leader, Peter Dukes, shared how a brainstorming event and many pumpkin pie tastings landed with these four powerhouse spices: cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg to create their show-stopping PSL recipe.
As many count on the annual arrival of #PSL, it is interesting to think how ancient explorers would react to its accessibility. Spices were one of the most historically coveted trades; wars were fought, and power was re-distributed over them. We take spices for granted in today’s society, but their rich history is one to be admired.
From a health perspective, Cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and promote insulin sensitivity. Rich in antioxidants, it may also lower blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. Not to mention, components of cinnamon are known to block the protein Tau which is opening an area of continued study relating Alzheimer’s to a Tau build-up. Ginger is well known for its anti-nausea effects, and it can boost one’s immune system and improve circulation. Clove compounds have been shown to decrease inflammation, improve liver function, and may play a role in preventing stomach ulcers. The volatile oils in nutmeg stimulate both serotonin and dopamine; hence producing antidepressant and antianxiety benefits. Nutmeg is also being studied for its neuroprotective and brain-boosting qualities and can also improve digestion.
There is no doubt that spices are a cost-effective way to boost one’s overall health and well-being. To take a closer look, there are some fascinating books on the history of the spice trade: Nathaniel’s Nutmeg by Giles Milton and Jack Turner’s Spice; The History of a Temptation. For our chefs, The Nutmeg Trail by Eleanor Ford takes you on a journey and includes 80 recipes.
Starbucks was certainly on to something; this quartet of spices combined with the beta carotene of pumpkin is a health boost; now if we could just remove all that sugar! While the PSL may not be the healthiest choice; it is an inspired one!