What An RD Really Thinks Of Dunkin's Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte

With the fall season rapidly approaching, we can practically see the leaves starting to change colors and hear the trick-or-treaters knocking at our doors. And, of course, we can smell the pumpkin spice in the air. Pumpkin spice lattes are an autumn icon. And because they can usually only be found during those temperature-dropping months, their biggest fans welcome the changing seasons with open arms.

The original Starbucks pumpkin spice latte was created back in 2003, per Starbucks Stories. But many other coffee shops, including Dunkin', have created variations on the drink, too.

We all know how tasty Dunkin's pumpkin spice signature latte is, but what we don't quite know is how it may impact our health. Mashed sought the opinion of registered dietitian and MyFitnessPal nutrition consultant Brookell White, MS, RD, to get a better idea of the drink's nutritional breakdown. (And don't worry — it's not all bad news.)

Dunkin's signature lattes are high in fat and sugar

When asked where Dunkin's pumpkin spice signature latte stands nutritionally in comparison to the company's other drinks, Brookell White, MS, RD, focused on the fat and sugar contents to weigh the differences. As she points out, all of the Dunkin' signature latte flavors have similar levels of fat and added sugar. (The added sugar content of a medium signature latte with whole milk ranges from 36 to 39 grams, and the fat content is around 14 grams, per Dunkin'.)

"The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 6% of added sugar daily. On average, this equals 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women," White says. In other words, one signature latte could set you back more than the total amount of added sugar you should be consuming in a day. 

To avoid exceeding these recommended limits, White recommends sticking to a regular latte, which can be much lower in both fat and added sugar. "Choosing any traditional coffee item with no added sugar, such as a regular coffee, latte, cappuccino, or macchiato, is the best option," she says. "Flavored coffee drinks tend to be highest in calories, fat, and sugar. The ingredients that impart the flavor come with their own fat and sugar content, increasing the total of each these nutrients."

So, should we stay away from the pumpkin spice signature latte at all costs?

This doesn't necessarily mean that one, two, or a few pumpkin spice signature lattes here and there will completely destroy your health, though. "Go ahead and enjoy your favorite seasonal treats," says Brookell White, MS, RD. "Just make sure to focus on eating an overall well-balanced diet, and try to keep your added sugars under 6% of your total calories."

And when it comes to making modifications to Dunkin's signature latte, White has a few helpful ideas. "Changing your milk to skim or choosing a non-dairy milk such as almond, oat, or coconut milk will help. The best option would be to choose coconut milk, as it has the least amount of added sugar," she says. "You also have the option to reduce the amount of flavor pumps ... if you would like less sugar and fat in your Pumpkin Spice Signature Latte, try it with coconut milk and 1-2 [fewer] pumps. Finally, you can ask for no whipped cream, which will also help reduce calories, sugar, and fat."

Of course, everyone is entitled to enjoy their favorite fall drinks any way they please. But following some of these pointers could make for a more wholesome way to enjoy the seasonal standouts.