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There's a good reason to switch from the PSL... and it's not to avoid feeling basic.

September 10, 2018

Though temps are still way too hot across much of the country, pumpkin-flavored products have once again flooded our cafés and supermarkets. According to 2018 Nielsen sales reports, annual sales of pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks grew 15% over the last year, racking up a staggering $488 million.

The ubiquity of pumpkin as fall's most popular flavor—arguably the most successful seasonal flavor of all time—began 15 years ago when Starbucks first tested its now signature Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Last year, Cooking Light made a prediction that pumpkin-spice flavored items may end up being outsold by maple. Though pumpkin spice is here to stay, new data may persuade you to give "the other" fall flavor a chance.

It seems that maple-flavored drinks could actually be better for you, especially if you're trying to watch your daily calorie intake, thanks to data logged by coffee aficionados who keep track of their daily meals.

Lose It!, a popular nutrition tracking and weight loss app, parsed through data generated by 2 million monthly users and found that maple-flavored lattes are often a little healthier than a standard pumpkin-spice latte.

On average, a maple-flavored latte contains around 230 calories, whereas pumpkin-spiced lattes average closer to 260 calories per cup. And if you break each beverage down, an average pumpkin-spiced beverage could contain upwards of 5g more sugar than a similar-sized maple-flavored drink.

Interested in enjoying better-for-you pumpkin flavors at home? Read on:

At Starbucks in particular, a tall pumpkin spice latte made with 2-percent milk, served as is, contains 300 calories, 7g of saturated fat, and 39g of sugar. Conversely, their maple-pecan latte made with 2-percent milk in the same size contains 260 calories, 5g of saturated fat, and 35g of sugar.

There are very few times when you can consider a pumpkin spice or maple-flavored coffee truly healthy—at Dunkin' Donuts, for example, a small cup of either pumpkin-swirl iced coffee or the maple-pecan variety (made without cream or extra sugar) contain 120 calories and 25g of sugar.

The key to making your favorite fall-flavored coffee better for you is eliminating standard extras like sugar, cream, whole milk, and whipped cream—take time to customize your order and don't drink a beverage served as is. Or, even better, make your favorite flavored coffee right in your own kitchen.

Lose It! data shows that choosing to enjoy a maple flavor could be the first step in making your coffee order healthier this fall—especially if you customize your order.

Maple is well on track to be the alternative favorite of the industry this fall: coffee lovers ordered it nearly 13 times more frequently in 2017 than they did in 2016. And at Mintel, a market research agency, data analysts say that more coffee retailers are doling out maple-flavored beverages this fall, despite the hype of pumpkin-spiced-everything season—giving us hope that maple could still be the newcomer to finally end the pumpkin craze.