October 24, 2014 Healthy Living

Pumpkin: So Much More than Pie

Every fall, pumpkins enjoy a boost in popularity. Although they are most commonly used in pie and other desserts, this is too limiting for a healthy food that has so much to offer.

Pumpkins are considered a superfood and are excellent sources of vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and other phytonutrients. They are also low calorie, fat free, and are loaded with fiber.

Here are six health benefits that might entice you to eat pumpkin all year long:

Cancer Prevention: Like other orange foods (sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash, etc.), pumpkins contain the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute. Pumpkin seeds contain plant sterols, which may also help fight certain cancers.

Exercise Recovery: It turns out that a cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient potassium, with 564 milligrams to a banana’s 422. Potassium helps restore the body’s electrolyte balance after a heavy workout and helps muscles continue to function well.

Eyesight: A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which supports good vision, particularly in dim light. Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids (the compounds that give the gourd its bright orange color), including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A.

Glowing Skin: The same free-radical neutralizing powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay may also help you maintain healthy, glowing skin.

Heart Health: Pumpkin seeds are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols, which have been shown to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol when included in a healthy diet.

Mood Enhancement: Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that’s important in the production of serotonin, one of the major players that is thought to stabilize your mood and help you sleep.

Check out this list of 50 delicious recipes that incorporate pumpkin, including soups, stews, smoothies, pancakes, lasagna, and more.

Therese Gadomski
About the Author

Therese joined CDPHP in 2010 as a health promotion specialist who assists various community organizations and employer groups with providing health and wellness programs and initiatives, as well as developing and implementing health education programs and health screenings. As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator, Therese is passionate about helping to improve the quality of life for all within the community.

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