The PSL is back!!!!
The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte made its glorious return for all PSL lovers on Labor Day, making today Day 3 of the PSL End-of-Summer Lovefest (more on lovefests below). Day 3... Can you guess how many PSL's I've enjoyed already? (Hint: See photo above.)
As a nutritionist, I am obligated to here take the time to tell you about some of the health benefits of this fall vegetable. Like most other plants with a deep orange color, pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A; one cup has 2x the RDA! It is also an excellent source of Vitamin C. Further, containing only ~50kcal per cup, pumpkin is low in Calories, helping you to maintain a healthy weight. And pumpkin also has blah blah BLAH!!---
---Guess what. The PSL doesn't actually have ANY pumpkin in it. None whatsoever.
BUT the PSL has another health benefit that for you today may be much more riveting than a discussion of Vitamins and Calories...
The smell of pumpkin, amply present in your beloved PSL, is the most potent olfactory aphrodisiac known to man! (And, yes, sorry ladies--it only gears up men, while cucumber and licorice work for us.) Research by Dr. Alan R. Hirsch of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago shows that the smell of pumpkin is a powerful turn-on, able to increase blood flow to the man's nethers by 40%. Pumpkin spiciness!
Why is the scent of pumpkin an aphrodisiac? The research isn't exactly clear. But there are 3 possible answers, and indeed all 3 may play a role in this special health benefit of pumpkin:
1. Emotional trigger of pleasure. Your olfactory bulb has a direct circuit to your limbic system--the area of your brain responsible for emotions. Smelling pumpkin may be related to past frisky experiences, or, more likely, to just pleasurable experiences in general, with fall festivities and holiday parties and, let's face it--past Starbucks PSL enjoyment causing your brain to go into instapleasure mode, readying men for arousal. This mechanism makes sense, as Dr. Hirsch found other potent aphrodisiacs for men are cheese pizza and glazed doughnuts! Pleasure awaits!
2. Aromatic relaxant. Pumpkin, like lavender--a strong aphrodisiac shared by men and women both, has an affect on the parasympathetic system, causing you to relax. Pumpkin might help eliminate anxiety in the occasion or stress carried from a long day, enhancing arousal.
3. Unknown pheromone effects. Studies on chemicals that directly stimulate arousal without any prior emotional connection or exposure to the scent suggest some chemicals like pumpkin may have these sextastic powers.
However it works, pumpkin, or even the pseudopumpkin scent from your PSL, has some mighty health benefits.
3 Nutrition Tips to Enjoying Your Pumpkin Spice Latte
1. Skip the whip. This 100 Calorie topping will only melt and cool off your hot PSL.
2. Go with Nonfat milk. Same great protein, calcium, and Vitamin D as 2%.
3. 1 Pump! The grande PSL comes with 4 pumps of pumpkin spice syrup, and each pump has 8-10g sugar... which means that a regular 4-pump grande PSL has roughly the same amount of added sugar as a can of Coke. Don't worry - just 1 pump has enough pumpkin taste to enjoy... and enough pumpkin scent for enjoyment later!