Health Benefits of Pumpkins
October brings a lot of change. Change in the light and temperature outdoors and the natural colors around us. One of my favorite fall visuals is a gorgeous pile of pumpkins, each one adding to the collective power of the whole group. Like most kids, I looked forward to the night my family carved pumpkins. And I seemed to forget how much I loved snacking on the salty seeds that had roasted while we brought our jack-o-lanterns to life. Now, as a mom myself, I look forward to countering the cooler nights with oven roasted squash dishes and the fall flavor of pumpkin. And luckily, pumpkin is really good for us!
Here's what the hearty pumpkin delivers (in addition to delighting the taste buds):
- Vitamin A: Contains some of the highest amounts of beta-carotene which our body converts to Vitamin A, which is both anti-inflammatory and an anti-oxidant. Vitamin A also promotes the health of our lungs and cardiovascular system.
- B Vitamins: Rich in folate (B9), a helpful vitamin to support healthy colon cells and prevent colon cancer. Folate also helps to produce red blood cells, proper brain functioning and contributes to the heart functioning well.
- Carotenoids: Pumpkins are beautifully orange because of their high carotenoid content. Carotenoids are effective at helping us to stave off free-radicals and disease and giving our eyes an extra boost.
- Fiber: Pumpkins have a high amount of dietary fiber which helps accelerate food transit and also protects colon cells. Pumpkins are low in calories and the high level of fiber helps reduce LDL (bad cholesterol).
- Vitamin C: The high vitamin C content in pumpkins helps to fight free radicals and strengthen our immune system combatting common ailments. Vitamin C also helps produce collagen, promoting healthy skin.
- Potassium: A potassium-rich diet has shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Potassium also helps to lower blood pressure and to help restore electrolytes.
- Protein: Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a terrific source of protein. The seeds are also a rich source of plant-based fatty acids (phytosterols) and can help to reduce cholesterol. Phytosterols can also lower the risk of prostate cancer.
- Essential Fatty Acids: Also found in the pumpkin seeds are the rich source of essential fatty acids. These are especially helpful in promoting healthy skin and brain power along with protection against high blood pressure and arthritis.
- Magnesium: Found in both the pulp and the seeds, magnesium is necessary for the healthy maintenance of our bones and teeth.