test-What is in Pumpkin Spice? Surprisingly Good-for-You Ingredients
Food & Nutrition
What is in Pumpkin Spice? Surprisingly Good-for-You Ingredients
Lindsey Toth, MS, RD • October 26, 2018

Did you know your favorite fall flavors may come with health benefits? Okay, maybe not that sugar-packed latte (we’ll show you how to make a healthier pumpkin spice latte in this post), but pumpkin spice ingredients do have benefits, and so do pumpkins! Plus, sweet drinks aren’t the only way to use them.

Read on to learn about the benefits of pumpkins and pumpkin spice ingredients. We’ve also included some recipe ideas to help you get more of these fantastic fall flavors in your diet.

Benefits of Pumpkin & The Best Pumpkin for Recipes

Let’s start with the features of fall—pumpkins. But the type of pumpkin on your front porch isn’t the most delicious choice for your autumn recipes. You can always pick up a can of organic pumpkin to keep it simple. But if you want to start from the beginning, look for pumpkins that are labeled as pie pumpkins, even if you aren’t making pie.

Our favorite pumpkins for recipes include:

  • Autumn Gold
  • New England Pie Pumpkin
  • Cinderella Pumpkin
  • Neck Pumpkin
  • Fairy Tale Pumpkin
  • Baby Pam Pumpkin

As for the benefits, pumpkins are high in nutrients but low in calories, packing in 245% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin A per cup.1 And a cup of pumpkin only contains about 49 calories!1 Pumpkins also have vitamin C, potassium, copper, manganese, vitamin B2, vitamin E, iron, protein and more.1 Many of the nutrients and antioxidants in pumpkins also help boost immune health, which is definitely something we need during colder months.1

But don’t forget the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a nutritious snack or salad-topper with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, along with a helping of antioxidants and fiber.2

Now, let’s get to the benefits of those irresistible pumpkin spice ingredients.

Cinnamon Benefits

Cinnamon is one of the most beloved spices. It was used as a health tonic and even as a gift for kings long before topping our coffee and hot cocoa, and the benefits are too good to miss.3

There are two primary types of cinnamon—Ceylon cinnamon (also known as true cinnamon) and Cassia cinnamon. Both are loaded with powerful antioxidants and cinnamaldehyde, a compound that researchers believe is responsible for many of the health benefits of cinnamon.3,4 Ceylon cinnamon is considered to be superior to cheaper Cassia cinnamon when it comes to health benefits.3,4

In addition to using cinnamon as a spice, Ceylon cinnamon supplements are a popular choice for supporting cardiovascular health. So, the next time you reach for this spice, add a little extra to your dish in the name of health!

Sprinkle true cinnamon in your coffee, tea or hot cocoa. It's also delicious on sweet potatoes, oatmeal, apple slices, pears, and endless fall recipes like this recipe for Sweet Cinnamon Quinoa.

Ginger Benefits

According to the experts, ginger is one of the healthiest spices on the planet.5 It's made from the ground roots of a plant in the same family as the nutritional powerhouse turmeric, and it boasts many similar benefits.5,6

From digestive support to blood and brain health—ginger can contribute in many ways.5 Studies show it may even help with menstrual discomfort and provide support for muscles and joints.5

Ginger is water-soluble, so you can mix powdered ginger in pretty much anything you want. Try ground ginger or fresh ginger in your smoothies, applesauce, salad dressings and in your favorite stir-fry recipes. Ginger pairs well with apricots, bananas and blueberry too. Or get the benefits from convenient ginger root supplements.

Nutmeg Benefits

Nutmeg is made from a seed that grows on evergreen trees native to Indonesia.7 It’s the very same tree from which we get mace (the spice, not the pepper spray). Mace spice is made from a red, lacy outer covering of nutmeg and has a sweet-spicy flavor. Nutmeg adds a warming and comforting nuttiness and a hint of sweetness to dishes.

Research shows that nutmeg has a long list of benefits including promoting heart health, helping detox the liver, supporting sleep, maintaining pleasant breath, and digestive health.8 Some people also use nutmeg for hair and skin health, and nutmeg essential oil for aromatherapy.

Aside from adding this pumpkin spice ingredient to your coffee, the flavor also goes well with potatoes, squash, lamb and pork. Try it in Swanson 100% Certified Organic Ground Nutmeg.

What is Allspice?

Despite its name, allspice is not a combination of spices. It’s made from the dried berries of the Pimenta dioica tree, which is grown in warm climates around the globe including Central America.9 The name allspice comes from its flavor, which hints at a variety of other spices including pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and juniper berries.

Beyond adding flavor to dishes across a variety of cuisines, herbalists use allspice as a tonic for gas and related bloating, and topically as a paste to soothe muscles.10

Allspice is extremely versatile. Use it in baked goods like gingerbread or snickerdoodles. It also works well with dark chocolate and in rich autumn stew recipes. It’s a staple in Caribbean recipes like Jerk Chicken, and try it in these High Fiber Pumpkin Bars.

Benefits of Cloves

Cloves are the buds of flowers from the clove tree (Syzygium aromaticum) grown in Asia and South America.11 Cloves are rich in antioxidants including a compound called eugenol, which studies show may be five times more effective at fighting free radicals than vitamin E.12

The health benefits of cloves include support for healthy liver function, mineral nourishment for bones since cloves are a rich source of manganese, and clove may also provide support for stomach health concerns, immune health and brain function.12

Cloves have a distinct flavor, and beyond your favorite pumpkin pie or gingerbread recipe it works well in brines for pork, some curry recipes, chai tea and mulled cider or wine. Cloves also make a delicious addition to hot herbal tea. You can press whole cloves firmly into a slice of lemon or orange and put the fruit slice in your cup, or just sprinkle ground cloves on top.

How to Make Pumpkin Pie Spice

Satisfy your pumpkin spice craving by mixing all these delicious, healthy spices together. Try the mixture in your morning oatmeal or coffee, sprinkle some over baked squash or sweet potatoes, or use it in your favorite fall recipes like our No Bake Pumpkin Bites.

Pumpkin Spice Recipe:

This recipe makes about 15 servings at 1/4 teaspoon per serving. Make more for larger recipes and store the extra in an airtight container.

Healthier Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

The calories in the pumpkin spice latte recipe below will vary depending on the type of sweetener and milk you use, but if you make it with Farmer's Market Organic Canned Pumpkin, Almond Breeze Almond Milk, and Swanson Liquid Stevia—this recipe would only have about 40 total calories!

Healthier Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

Put all the above ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Do a taste test and add a touch more of any of the ingredients above to find your perfect pumpkin spice latte.

Spice Up Your Season

Pumpkin spice ingredients embody the flavor and warm comforts of fall, and with all the potential benefits they offer, you have another excuse to enjoy them.

If you like this post you may also like 5 Scary Good Taco Hacks, which includes a recipe for homemade taco seasoning, and The Sugar Scare: How to Replace Sugar with Healthier Sugar Alternatives, which offers sugar replacement options that are great to consider before the holidays.

Tell us some unique ways you use pumpkin spice ingredients in the comments below, and sign up for Swanson Health emails to get future articles like this delivered to your inbox, along with exclusive, email-only promotions.

Lindsey Bristol, Swanson Health Products



About Lindsey Toth, MS, RD
Registered Dietitian, Swanson Health

Lindsey is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and nutritionist with a soft spot for ice cream. She empowers people to take charge of their health by finding the balance between the pleasure and nourishment in food.

Her philosophy is that you should take care of your body because it’s the only permanent home you have. It’s what inspired her to pursue a career in nutrition and, ultimately, led her to Swanson Health.


1 9 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/pumpkin#section1 (Accessed 10/25/2018)

2 What are the health benefits of pumpkin seeds? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303864.php (Accessed 10/25/2018)

3 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section1 (Accessed 10/25/2018)

4 Chemical composition and in vitro antioxidant and antibacterial activity of Heracleum transcaucasicum and Heracleum anisactis roots essential oil. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097974/ (Accessed 10/25/2018)

5 11 Proven Health Benefits of Ginger. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-ginger (Accessed 10/25/2018)

6 Turmeric vs. Ginger: SPICEography Showdown. Spiceography. https://www.spiceography.com/turmeric-vs-ginger/ (Accessed 10/25/2018)

7 What is Nutmeg? Where Nutmeg Comes from, How it's Used, and How to Store It. The Spruce Eats. https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-nutmeg-1328522 (Accessed 10/26/2018)

8 Health and nutritional benefits of nutmeg (mystica fragrans houtt.) Scientia Agriculturae. http://pscipub.com/Journals/Data/JList/Scientia%20Agriculturae/2013/Volume%201 (Accessed 10/26/2018)

9 Spices and Condiments. National Science Digital Library. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265844733_Spices_and_Condiments (Accessed 10/26/2018)

10 The Benefits of Allspice. Verywell Health https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-allspice-89537 (Accessed 10/26/2018)

11 Clove tree. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/plant/clove-tree (Accessed 10/26/2018)

12 8 Surprising Health Benefits of Cloves. Healthline.https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cloves#section6 (Accessed 10/26/2018)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.