The Great Pumpkin
07. December 2012
The holidays are here and that means it’s finally pumpkin season! For me, that’s reason to celebrate because I love, love pumpkin pie. My husband will tell you it’s just an excuse to eat whipped cream (another of my most fave foods!) But that’s just not true. I actually picked up a pumpkin pie at Albertsons the other day…just for me! Within two days, my personal pie was no more than an empty pan.
I suppose I should feel guilty for my annual splurge of the creamy confection I have loved since childhood. But the more I learn about what’s good about pumpkin, the better I feel. (Ok, an entire pie is a little over-the-top.) But it doesn’t stop there.
Pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin beer – the options are endless and endlessly mouth watering this time of year.
Not only is fall’s signature squash versatile enough to fit into all the above, it also packs some powerful health perks like keeping heart health, vision and waistlines in check (although you might want to eat your pie one piece at a time!)
Here are eight reasons why the Great Pumpkin is great for your health!
Pumpkins Keep Eyesight Sharp
A cup of cooked, mashed pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your RDA of vitamin A, which aids vision, especially in dim light. Pumpkins are also rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A for additional peeper protection.
Pumpkins Aid Weight Loss
Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per one-cup serving and only 49 calories (without the whipped cream!) it can keep you feeling full longer on fewer calories.
Pumpkin Seeds Can Help Your Heart
Nuts and seeds, including those from pumpkins, are naturally rich in certain plant-based chemicals called phytosterols that have been show in studies to reduce LDL or “bad cholesterol.”
Pumpkins May Reduce Cancer Risk
Like their orange comrades the sweet potato, the carrot and butternut squash, pumpkins boast the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Pumpkins Protect the Skin
According the “Health” magazine, the same free-radical-neutralizing powers of the carotenoids in pumpkin that may keep cancer cells at bay can also help keep the skin wrinkle-free.
Pumpkin Seeds Can Boost Your Mood
Pumpkins seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan…important in production of seratonin, one of the major players when it comes to your mood. Web MD reports, “a handful of roasted pumpkin seed may help your outlook stay bright.”
Pumpkins Can Help After a Hard Workout
Bananas are often touted as nature’s energy bar. But a cup of cooked pumpkin has more of the refueling nutrient, potassium with 565 milligrams to a banana’s 422. A little extra potassium helps restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after a heavy workout and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
Pumpkins Can Boost Your Immune System
Well, maybe. Whether or not vitamin C can really ward off colds is still up for debate, but pumpkins are a solid source of the essential nutrient. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 11 milligrams, or nearly 20 percent of the 60 milligrams recommended daily for women. (Men should aim for 75 mg.)
Tis the season for overindulging…but go for the treats featuring pumpkin and you won’t have to beat yourself up. That creamy piece of pumpkin pie is packed with all kinds of good things for your health. Just take it easy on the whipped cream.
I will if you will!
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.