Tis the season, of the pumpkin! Now that fall is here you can’t go a day without running into pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin butter, pumpkin beer – and the list goes on. Why? Because pumpkin is delicious! This vibrant gourd is the quintessential image of fall, encapsulating the colors of the season, the whimsy of Halloween, and the harvest of Thanksgiving.
What Can Pumpkins Do For You?
Though pumpkin-flavored anything is more than enough reason to celebrate, you can add one more item to the “pumpkin-season-is-amazing” list – pumpkins are full of health benefits! This fall favorite is packed with disease fighting nutrients that will make you want to add pumpkins to your diet all year long.
1. An Antioxidant Powerhouse – the bright orange color of the pumpkin provides far more than a great decorative piece for your Thanksgiving dinner table – this color indicates that the pumpkin is full of beta-carotene. This powerful antioxidant has been linked with cancer and heart disease prevention. More than just a cell-protecting antioxidant, the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, which is needed for healthy skin and an effective immune system.
2. Protect Your Eyes, with Pumpkins – Beta-carotene, which gives the pumpkin its vibrant color, is safely converted by the body to vitamin A. Vitamin A is a vital component of eye health, especially helping with vision in dim light. So go ahead and order that pumpkin ravioli – you are doing it for your eyes!
3. A Delicious Source of Fiber – many Americans struggle to include enough fiber in their diets, which can lead to poor digestive health. Additionally, fiber helps you feel full, helping to keep off the pounds. During the holiday season you may see your scale creep upwards, but there is no need to cut pumpkin out of your menu. Containing 3 grams of fiber per cup, and only 49 calories, pumpkin is a great addition to a healthy diet.
4. Happiness and Pumpkin Seeds – Carving up a pumpkin, pulling out the gooey insides, and the smell of roasting pumpkin seeds – these are the traditions of autumn. Pumpkin seeds are a flavorful treat to have after you make your jack-O-lantern, but they are also a wonderful source of the mood-lifting chemical serotonin. Eating pumpkin seeds are a natural way to help ward off anxiety and depression.
5. Heart Healthy Pumpkin Seeds – more than just a mood enhancer, pumpkin seeds are a rich source of the plant-based chemicals phytosterols. These chemicals help reduce LDL, or bad cholesterol, in the body. By cutting out cholesterol, pumpkin seeds help protect heart health and aid in heart disease prevention. So go ahead, grab a handful of pumpkin seeds and know that your heart will thank you.
6. An Energy Boost – pumpkins are an excellent source of potassium, a nutrient that recharges the body with energy. You don’t need to reach for an energy bar or banana after a great workout or family hike – a pumpkin treat will give you all the potassium you need to feel refreshed and balanced.