Written By Julie Paiva, CHHC
It is officially pumpkin season, and there is more to celebrate than changing your decor or drinking pumpkin lattes. When we think pumpkins, we might envision taking a hay ride through the pumpkin patch, picking the perfect pumpkin, and carving a jack-o-lantern. Perhaps we even start craving indulgences like pumpkin pie and other treats. However, pumpkins have a lot more to offer us than decorating our front porches or artificially flavoring some of our daily favorites. They actually pack some healthy powerful perks!
Fiber helps you feel fuller, digest your food effectively, and absorb nutrients. Pumpkin purée has double the amount of dietary fiber compared to pumpkin seeds. In addition, the purée gives you about 10% of your daily requirements for potassium. Potassium also supports healthy digestion. When you feel fuller, you eat less and tend to make healthier food choices.
Build the Immune System
Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A) is responsible for the orange color in fruits and vegetables. Pumpkin is packed with this powerful antioxidant as well as iron, vitamin C and vitamin E. These nutrients help ward off bad bacteria and keep your immune system in tip-top shape.
A cup of diced pumpkin contains twice the daily recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A promotes good vision especially in dim light. Another bonus of Vitamin A is it promotes healthy skin, teeth and bones.
Pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan, that amino acid we often associate with the post-Thanksgiving dinner sleepiness. Tryptophan helps your body produce serotonin. Serotonin is that feel good neuro-transmitter that helps you to relax and unwind.
Magnesium is used in every organ in the body and plays an essential role in bone and heart health. Pumpkin seeds are very high in magnesium containing nearly half of the daily recommended amount.
Fall is the time where we start to see pumpkin flavored everything. While most artificially flavored pumpkin items should be eaten sparingly if at all, pumpkin itself is actually one of the healthiest foods of the season. Always choose fresh pumpkin over pumpkin-laced deserts. Make pumpkin a new addition to your roasted vegetable medley. Add it to smoothies. Try it in place of nut butters or simply sprinkle the seeds on your salad. It’s time to reap some of the health-boosting benefits of pumpkin!