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Ranking Pies by How (Un)healthy They Are

Pumpkin? Pecan? Lemon Meringue? Which is least likely to turn me into a sugar cube?

So you made it through Thanksgiving dinner without falling into food coma, which means you must have room for a slice (or two) of pie. In order to help you mitigate the damage of mixing that with the bucket of mashed potatoes and gravy you just ate, we asked Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, to help us rank traditional pies, from kinda unhealthy to extremely unhealthy.

But first, an explanation for her ranking: “Most classic pies use a pastry crust — butter, flour and perhaps some sugar,” Hunnes says. “If we put aside this similarity among all of the pies, what we’re really focusing on is the filling.”

With that, let’s rank some pies…

1. Pumpkin Pie: “This is going to be the healthiest, especially if you make it yourself with half of the sugar required in the recipe,” Hunnes says. “It’s a vegetable filled with vitamin A (beta carotene) [which helps support healthy skin, nails and hair] and fiber. The worst part about it is the crust, which contains the most calories: A slice would probably ‘cost’ you about 300 calories.”

2. Sweet Potato Pie: “Sweet potato pie is a close second,” Hunnes says. “I would say it’s almost identical to pumpkin pie — it might even require even less added sugar due to the inherent sweetness of sweet potatoes.”

3. Blueberry, Cherry, Strawberry and Apple Pie (tied): “The thing about these pies is that, while they contain real fruit (a major boon), they also contain a fair amount of sugar, and of course, that highly-caloric crust,” Hunnes explains. “While they’re very nearly tied, I did put them in this order for a reason: Blueberries tend to have the most antioxidants (phytochemicals and anthocyanins), followed closely by cherries, then strawberries and then apples. Obviously, homemade is best: If you buy store-bought pies, they tend to have more fillers and possibly fewer natural (healthy) ingredients.”

7. Pecan Pie: “While this has pecans, which are a great source of healthy fat, it’s mostly sugar, pecans, more sugar and white flour,” Hunnes says. “But still, it’s likely better for you than the following pies.”

8. Lemon Meringue and Key Lime Pie (tied): “I tied these up because, again, they’re made quite similarly,” Hunnes says. “Granted, lemon meringue pie traditionally has more egg in it — hence the yellow color of the custard — and a lot of sugar, but it’s still quite similar to key lime pie, which also has a lot of sugar.”

10. Chocolate Pie: “This is primarily fat and sugar — no ifs, ands or buts about it,” Hunnes emphasizes. “This may set you back 500 or so calories per slice, and that’s if you have chocolate pie without the side of chocolate ice cream (or what not).”

Whichever pie you choose, Hunnes suggests keeping your intake to a minimum: “I recommend either having super small portions, or at the very least, limiting yourself to only one slice.”

We are not thankful for this advice.