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6 Pumpkin Foods To Stay Away From Right Now

No matter how tempting, these seasonal treats will do more harm than they're worth.

'Tis the season for pumpkins, cozy sweaters, and fall foliage. Grab your pumpkin spice latte and enjoy a breath of the fresh, crisp, autumn air.

Grocery store shelves are filling up with everything from pumpkin toaster pastries to pumpkin ice cream. While pumpkins have good nutritional value, since they're a vegetable, these foods are mostly indulgent. And some are worse than others.

We consulted Emily Feivor, a registered dietitian at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, part of Northwell Health in New York, and Dr. Annelie Vogt von Heselholt, DCN, RD, CSO, founder of Dietitian Doc, on the worst pumpkin foods you should avoid.

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Pillsbury's Moist Supreme Perfectly Pumpkin Premium Cake Mix

pillsbury moist supreme perfectly pumpkin premium cake mix
Courtesy of Walmart
PER 1/10 PACKAGE: 160 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (1 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 2 g protein

This fall baking hack sure sounds nice, but you might want to avoid this pre-mixed cake mix. Feivor points out that one serving has over a tablespoon of sugar, little fiber, and is high in sodium. And that's not including the other ingredients you need to add to make the cake (oil and eggs). With those ingredients incorporated, she explains, "the saturated fat jumps to 16% of total daily value!"

Another concerning factor? Although the nutrition facts don't spell out 'trans fat,' this product does indeed contain partially hydrogenated oils, notes Feoivor, which IS trans-fat and increases our bad cholesterol and risk for heart health.

Vogt agrees, adding, "It contains a number of processed ingredients such as partially hydrogenated oils, propylene glycol monoesters, mono and diglycerides, artificial flavor, sodium stearate, polysorbate 60, yellow 5, red 40, and TBHQ."

She explains that while these ingredients are considered safe by the FDA, "long-term use could potentially be detrimental to your health."

Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts

pumpkin pie pop-tarts
Courtesy of Walmart
PER 2 PASTRIES: 380 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (1 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 4 g protein

Pop-Tarts are convenient and easy to make, but the ingredients are concerning. Two pumpkin pie pastries have nearly two tablespoons of sugar, as well as a ton of salt and saturated fat, Feivor says.

"This is another highly processed product that is high in calories, sodium, total carbohydrates, and added sugars, and low in fiber," says Vogt.

Take a closer look at the ingredients list. "According to the ingredient list, sugar is found in five different varieties, including corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, dextrose, and molasses," Vogt points out.

The recommended daily sugar intake is 6 to 9 teaspoons, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). One serving of these Pop-Tarts brings you to your limit.

But, wait, there's more. "It also contains synthetic processed antioxidants such as TBHQ, synthetic, processed coloring agents, such as caramel color, yellow 5 and 6, red 40, and blue 1, and bioengineered ingredients," Vogt explains.

Ben & Jerry's Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream

ben & jerry's pumpkin cheesecake ice cream
Courtesy of Instacart
PER 2/3 CUP: 350 calories, 20 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 80 mg cholesterol, 190 mg sodium, 40 g carbs (0 g fiber, 34 g sugar), 5 g protein

Ben & Jerry's pumpkin cheesecake ice cream is basically a pint of sugar. Feivor notes this pint contains about 2.5 tablespoons of sugar in one serving—the label says there are 3 servings in this one pint. Plus, "with just one serving size, 50% of the recommended saturated fat allotment for the day is met. Not much of a surprise as cream is the first ingredient. Now think about how easy it is to finish a container; one would be consuming over half of a cup of sugar and 30 grams of saturated fat (150% of recommended daily value)," Feivor explains.

Vogt agrees, noting the ridiculous amount of sugar, adding that it has 27% of your daily value for cholesterol and 97% of your daily value for added sugars, according to the AHA.

"Compared to frozen yogurt, it provides twice the calories and added sugars, six times the amount of total fat, fix times the cholesterol, and four times the amount of saturated fat," Vogt adds.

Nature's Path Organic Frosted Pumpkin Pie Flavored Toaster Pastries

nature's path frosted pumpkin pie flavored toaster pastries
Courtesy of Target
PER 2 PASTRIES: 400 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 76 g carbs (2 g fiber, 36 g sugar), 6 g protein

Nature's Path toaster pastries provide a good lesson in how certain labels can be deceiving. As Vogt points out, it's "an organic product marketed as a natural, healthy food." The packaging also states that there are no artificial flavors or synthetic colors, but is it healthy?

"Don't let the 'organic' label fool you as this 'organic' version of the popular conventional competitor contains 9 grams more sugar!" Feivor warns.

"Because it's high in calories, fats, sodium, carbohydrates, and added sugars, and low in fiber, you should probably think twice before eating one," advises Vogt. She also points out that one serving provides you with 400 calories, 20% of your daily value of saturated fats, 11% of your daily value of sodium, 28% of your daily value of carbohydrates, and over 100% of your recommended value of added sugars.

Favorite Day Pumpkin Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies

favorite day pumpkin cheesecake sandwich cookies
Courtesy of Target
PER 2 COOKIES: 170 calories, 8 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 105 mg sodium, 23 g carbs (0 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 1 g protein

Favorite Day's pumpkin cheesecake cookies are loaded with sugar and nothing nutritional.

"The first ingredient is sugar, which informs the consumer that the biggest make-up of this product is indeed added sugar—26% of our daily value. The food contains no fiber and contains high saturated fat with the third and fourth ingredient being oil," says Feivor.

Kellogg's Special K Pumpkin Spice Cereal

special k pumpkin spice cereal
Courtesy of Walmart
PER 1 CUP: 150 calories, 1.5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 260 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (3 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 3 g protein

Special K Pumpkin Spice Cereal might seem like a healthy item because it contains added vitamins and minerals, but it's not worth it. Vogt tells us why.

"This processed product is high in calories, sodium, carbohydrates, and added sugars and is a less-than-desirable start to the day. It has cheaper types of added fats such as processed hydrogenated oils and a variety of added sugars such as syrups, dextrose, honey, molasses, and artificial flavorings and preservatives," Vogt explains.

She goes on to say that the cereal alone (not including milk and added sweeteners) provides 11% of the daily value of sodium, 12% of carbohydrates, and 37% of added sugars.

"In comparison, regular old-fashioned oat flakes have no sodium or added sugar and more fiber and protein and are a much better choice. To make this cereal more festive, you can add a dash of the spices cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger," Vogt advises.

Nicole LaMarco
Nicole has a first-degree black belt in Taekwondo and is passionate about everything health-related. Read more about Nicole