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Why French Women Aren’t Fat! – My firsthand experience with the French “Paradox.”
By Carol LeBeau
11/11/2013 3:13:11 PM


–FULL BIO
 

It was our first trip to Paris.  So much to see and do…the Eiffel Tower…Notre Dam…the Louvre.  Amazing!

But as Tom and I recently experienced our first trip to the “City of Light,” we quickly learned the main Parisian attraction isn’t a cathedral or museum.  It’s the food!   And for nine days, we made it our goal to taste it all.

We indulged in crepes, both savory and sweet, swimming in rich cheese and cream sauces – fresh, buttered baguettes stuffed with ham and Gruyere, buttery croissants slathered in orange marmalade and steaming cups of cappuccino with creamy, whole milk. (Don’t even think about insulting your French server by asking for non-fat!)

We literally ate our way through the streets of Paris.  From curbside vendors and colorful sidewalk cafes to charming bistros with white tablecloths, we dined on steaming bowls of cheese-covered French onion soup, spaghetti bolognaise and melt-in-your moth beef bourguignon.

I won’t even begin to describe the delightfully decadent French desserts in this space.  Words are completely insufficient.  But I will say this much.  Last night I dreamt about one of those divine desserts…the rich ice cream, whipped cream and dark chocolate sauce confection known as the “blanche dame.”   

For the record, I didn’t work out one day.  Oh well, when in France…

But the day of reckoning finally came back home as I stepped on the scale to assess
the damage.  Unbelievably, the digital display indicated I had lost nearly a pound!  

And then it hit me.

I’d just experienced a touch of what’s known as the French Paradox…the country’s low rate of coronary heart disease despite a diet rich in saturated fat.  It’s the basic premise of the popular diet book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat.”   Author Mireille Guiliano advises eating only good food of very high quality, eat it in small portions and savor every bite.

And it fits our French dining experience to a tee.  Rather than wolfing down a hastily prepared PB and J running out the door, our meals were not rushed. In fact, they were an event unto themselves…consumed slowly while visiting and sipping the local Bordeaux.

As Guiliano explains, “From chocolate to champagne, eat slowly, with all your senses, and make every dining experience pleasurable so you will be satisfied with smaller portions of delicious food.  No food is off limits, only large portions.  No counting calories, no skipping meals – just control what you eat.”

It truly is a paradox.  Lean and fit, the French aren’t into low-fat, low-carb, low-taste and low-calorie.  Their diet is full of flavor and high in satisfaction. (And the majority of Parisians don’t have cars.  They walk as did we – often miles a day!)

When it comes to food, we could all learn a thing or two from our French brothers and sisters.  With their low rate of obesity and cardiovascular disease, the French way may just be the way to go!  

Bon Appetit!

Mini Greens: Good Nutrition Comes in Small Packages!
By Carol LeBeau
10/21/2013 12:48:28 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Like most of you health-conscious folks out there, I’ve done my best to make sure my diet includes a wide variety of leafy greens because they’re chock full of vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting anti-oxidants. 

I admit going green hasn’t always bee easy.  But over time I’ve finally acquired a taste for arugula.  I make my soups “super” by adding some Swiss chard. And despite a bitter battle, I’ve finally conquered my aversion to kale and frequently mix the dark, leafy green into my favorite salads.  Pretty good effort, I’d say.

But just when I thought I’d gone green enough, a new leafy veggie has become the darling of the farmer’s market.  Have you heard the buzz about the nutritional power of “mini greens?”  According to the research, these seedlings are proving that good things can come in extremely small packages.

I first ran across the news about mini greens in “O” magazine…then checked it out for myself.   Turns out, according to the USDA, when harvested at just seven to 14 days old, these pint-size leaves can be far more nutrient-dense than their full-grown counterparts.

Studies show plants use stored nutrients to grow, so plucking the tiny seedlings early means they still have high levels of vitamins and minerals.  Just keep in mind, says one study, that these “mini-me’s” lack the fiber found in mature plants, so they should supplement the greens you already eat…not replace them.

For all you fashionable foodies out there, here’s more good news about teensy greens.  Thanks to the concentrated flavor of these diminutive standouts, they can elevate meals in taste as well as nutrition.

Give these a try:

Micro Cilantro
This fragrant green contains 11 times more lutein and zeaxanthin (nutrients that can reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related vision loss) than the same amount of mature cilantro.

Micro Red Cabbage
These slightly bitter, heart-shaped leaves outshine full-grown cabbage with roughly 260 times the beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A that can help protect eyesight) and more than 40 times the vitamin E.

Micro Purple Mustard Greens
Just four ounces of these greens meet your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C (75 milligrams). Another perk: these greens may be among the tastiest, due to their spicy zing.

Micro Green Daikon Radish
These sharp, spicy leaves are vitamin E superstars, boasting 165 percent of your RDA per ounce – helping to shore up your immune system and protect tissues and organs from damage caused by free radicals.  By contrast, mature leaves contain only trace amounts of the antioxidant.

Micro Garnet Amaranth (this one’s new to me!)
Light red with an earthy, floral flavor… micro garnet amaranth ranks highest in vitamin K among micro greens (with more than 3 ½ times the amount in mature amaranth).  Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and may reduce the risk of bone fractures.

I’m not exactly the queen of the kitchen, but I’m thinking if I adorn my next salad with nutrient-dense mini cilantro, would it be OK to can the kale?!

Bon appetit!

Healthy "sides" for your next cookout
By Carol LeBeau
9/10/2013 11:01:27 AM


–FULL BIO
 

You all know I’m no Martha Stewart, so there’s no use pretending.   When asked recently to bring a side dish to a backyard barbecue, I admit…I picked up some potato salad at a grocery store deli. 

Carol LeBeau's Health JournalWhile transferring my store-bought salad to a plastic serving bowl, I couldn’t help but notice the little chunks of potato literally swimming in gooey dressing.  Yuk!  Not very healthy (and probably not very tasty either.)

I debated getting out my Mom’s famous potato salad recipe and whipping up a batch.  But while her famous recipe is delicious, it, too, is loaded with rich, heavy dressing.  

Growing up in the Midwest, summers meant burgers on the grill and classic cookout favorites like coleslaw, bean salad and, of course, potato salad.  I still love a traditional barbecue buffet! 

I just need some updated recipes with fewer calories, less fat…AND plenty of flavor.

My search led me to several classic cookout side dishes that have undergone healthy makeovers and they’re delicious! (Easy, too!)  Next time you’re asked to bring a “side,” give one of these a try.  (Beats the grocery deli every time!)

Bean Salad

6 Tbsp chopped red onion
4 Tbsp wine vinegar
4 oz. thin green beans, trimmed
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 c shelled, cooked edamame (about 10oz), thawed, if frozen
1 can (15 oz) dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1. Combine onion with 3 Tbsp of the vinegar in small bowl and let stand 15 minutes to pickle.  Cook green beans in boiling, salted water until tender, 3 minutes.  Drain, rinse under cold water and cut into thirds.

2. Whisk together mustard, honey, oil and remaining 1 Tbsp vinegar in large bowl.  Stir in pickled onion mixture.

3. Add cooked green beans, edamame, kidney beans and chickpeas.  Toss together until well combined.  Season to taste.

New Potato Salad

1½ lb. new potatoes
3 ½ Tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp finely chopped shallot or onion
3 Tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon.
2 lg. hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lg. rib celery, chopped

1. Cook potatoes in boiling, salted water until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. When potatoes are just cool enough to handle (but still warm) cut into quarters.

2. Whisk together vinegar and mustard in large bowl while potatoes are cooling. Add oil in slow stream, whisking until well combined.  Stir in shallot and tarragon.  Immediately add warm potatoes, tossing to combine.

3. Add eggs and celery and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Makes 4 cups.)

Tri-color Slaw

3 Tbsp cider vinegar
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz. fresh coleslaw mix (about 3 cups)
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
1 bell pepper, sliced (optional)
1 Tbsp poppy seed, toasted (optional)

1. Whisk together vinegar, lime juice and honey in large bowl.  Add oil in slow stream, whisking to combine.

2. Add remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Cover and chill at least 1 hour to let flavors develop. (Makes about 6 cups.)

Turkey Burgers (without the blah!)
By Carol LeBeau
8/21/2013 1:11:06 AM


–FULL BIO
 

Planning a backyard barbecue bash? Break out the burgers…just make sure you have an option for your beef-less friends!

Turkey burgers are a great, healthful alternative to beef, but frankly, they can be a bit bland. Even worse, the so-called “better” burgers are often so full of bread and other binders, you can end up loading up on carbs and empty calories rather than enjoying a healthy, high-protein, low-fat meal.

I find most prepared burgers disappointing, so I’ve been on the lookout for a turkey burger recipe I can make at home that’s healthy, delicious and not the least bit boring! The winner? A boffo burger with a little Greek influence. I tried it out on husband, Tom and got a big “thumbs-up!” Let me know what you think.

CAROL’S TASTY TURKEY BURGER
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

¼ c. 2% plain Greek-style yogurt
2 Tbsp. chopped scallions
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 lb ground organic turkey breast
¼ c coarsely chopped pitted green olives
2 oz feta, crumbled
1 tsp. Greek seasoning
4 whole wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted
4 sm leaves butter lettuce
8 sm slices tomato
8 thin slices red onion

1. Stir together yogurt, scallions, and 2 tsp of the lemon juice in small bowl. Set aside.
2. Mix together turkey, olives, feta, Greek seasoning and remaining 2 Tbsp lemon juice until just combined. Form into 4 patties.
3. Prepare lightly oiled grill for medium heat. Grill patties, turning until golden brown and cooked through (internal temperature 165 degrees F), about 12 minutes
4. Serve burgers on buns with lettuce, tomato, onion and yogurt sauce.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.

Eat Your Asparagus! It's Good for You!
By Carol LeBeau
7/15/2013 4:15:46 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Eat Your AsparagusGrowing up, Mom fixed asparagus for dinner…a lot.  My Dad loved the green, veggie spears, so it was a mainstay in our diet.   “Eat your asparagus,” Dad demanded.  “It’s good for you.”

That may have been true.  But I hated the nasty, green vegetable.  When no one was looking, my portion often went to our poor, dog, Chuckie.  (That dog would eat anything.  Once, he ate the entire Easter ham!)

I can’t tell you exactly when my relationship with asparagus changed, but today I absolutely love the versatile vegetable packed with nutrition.   Maybe, like Brussels sprouts, asparagus is just an acquired taste.  But I think the difference is in the preparation.

For the record, my Mom was an excellent cook.  However, like every other Midwestern homemaker, Mom boiled her asparagus in water and butter until there was nothing left but green, stringy mush. 

Not until I was an adult did I get a taste of this ancient vegetable prepared al dente, or better still, roasted, parboiled or fresh in a salad.  I’ve been hooked on my former vegetable nemesis ever since!

The more I learn about the amazing asparagus, the more I love it! 

Did you know the name for asparagus – a member of the lily family comes from the Greek word meaning “shoot” or “sprout?” Now widely cultivated throughout the world, this regal vegetable is believed to have originated 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean region, where it was prized for its unique texture and alleged medicinal and aphrodisiacal qualities.  (How’s that for a health bonus?!)

Asparagus spears grow from a crown planted in sandy soils and, under ideal conditions, can grow 10 inches in a 24-hour period!  The most common types are green, but you might see two others in stores, farmer’s markets and restaurants: white, which is more delicate and difficult to harvest, and purple, which is smaller and fruitier.

This giant veggie is also a nutritional rock star – high in folic acid and a good source of potassium, fiber, thiamin and vitamins A, B6 and C.  A 5-ounce serving provides 60 percent of the RDA for folic acid and is low in calories.

‘Tis the season for asparagus, so pick up a couple of bunches.  Enjoy it raw or with minimal preparation, which the Romans seemed to appreciate.  They had a saying to describe something done rapidly, “As quick as cooking asparagus!” (Sorry Mom!)

Here’s a simple, tasty and nutritious asparagus recipe I think you’ll enjoy.  Perfect for a warm, summer evening!

Spring Asparagus and White Bean Salad

Ingredients:

3 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 lb)

1 ½ cups canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

5 thinly sliced radishes

½ cup (2 oz) crumbled feta or goat cheese

1 medium shallot, peeled and minced

1 tbsp chopped fresh mint 

Dressing:

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1tsp grated lemon zest

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp black pepper

Directions:

1. Steam asparagus, covered, 2 minutes or until crisp-tender.

2. Rinse asparagus with cold water and drain.

3. Gently combine asparagus, beans radishes, feta, shallot and fresh mint in a serving bowl.

4. Make dressing by combining lemon juice, lemon zest, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper, and whisk to combine.

5. Pour dressing over asparagus mixture and toss gently to coat.

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.

When life gives you lemons, don't stop with lemonade
By Carol LeBeau
6/24/2013 12:37:01 AM


–FULL BIO
 

Pucker up and enjoy the health benefits of the lowly lemon!

Most married couples fight over things such as finances, how to raise the kids and control of the TV remote. Not Tom and me. No sir. We argue about lemons.

My love of lemons has caused a scene in plenty of restaurants. It starts as soon as the server delivers the water. Tom begins to squirm and I make my request for lemon slices – as many as he or she can carry or is allowed to give out without getting fired. And it’s not just water. I go for lotsa lemon in hot tea, iced tea, Pelligrino, tonic water, diet Coke and yes…lemonade.

I know my lemon obsession drives poor Tom crazy. (He winds up having to tip extra for the hassle!) But I can’t help myself. I love lemons.

From lemon drops to lemon bars, my love affair with lemons actually began in childhood. I was the only kid on the block who could peel a lemon and eat it just like an orange! Talk about sour power! Instead of cake, my Mom would bake me a birthday lemon meringue pie. You get the picture.

So when a friend sent me one of those e-mail forwards about the near miraculous health powers of lemons, not only was I intrigued, I felt vindicated. According to the blog, the lowly lemon could reverse the aging process, cure cancer and more!

There was just one problem. With no real science to back up the outlandish claims, it just didn’t pass the smell test. After clicking “delete,” I went online to some reputable health websites and got the real low-down on the lowly lemon.

Turns out, a little lemon can go a long way to improving your health! In fact, many health benefits from the sour citrus fruit have been known for centuries. Lemons have strong antibacterial, antiviral and immune-boosting powers and are used as a weight loss aid because lemon juice cleans the liver and aids in digestion.

Lemons contain many substances notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin and limonene – all of which promote immunity and fight infection.

I was fascinated to learn that lemons actually help balance your pH level. Though acidic to the taste, lemons are alkaline-forming on the body. (That explains why I’m sensitive to OJ…but lemon juice is no problem!)

The citric acid in lemons can also help eliminate calcium deposits in the arteries as well as pancreatic and kidney stones.

While green juices and fresh smoothies should still feature in your daily diet, the real super beverage may just be water with freshly squeezed lemon. And it’s so easy. At home. At your favorite eatery. Pull out your pucker face and pop a few lemon wedges in your drink. (Just don’t let Tom catch you pestering your server!)

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.
 

Fat-Fighting Foods
By Carol LeBeau
4/10/2013 2:54:30 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Spring may be in the air, but summer is just around the corner and that means swimsuit season is upon us. (At my age, it’s actually become more like capris and T-shirt season!) But whatever stage of undress you plan to display this summer, now’s the time to start paring down and tightening up.

Exercise is a great start, but eating right can get you to your goal weight faster than anything.

Like you, I hate, HATE dieting, but love little nutrition “tricks” that help maintain my weight without embarking on some cumbersome, complicated diet “program.”

Fortunately, some foods can actually help you fight fat! I’ve been “sneaking” some of these slimming super foods into my diet lately and already last year’s capri’s are feeling a little looser!

Perhaps these fat-fighting foods can help you look your best no matter what you plan to wear this summer!

1. Chili powder This spicy powder contains capsinoids, which burn belly fat. When volunteers in a 2009 study popped 6 grams of capsinoid oil a day, they lost five times as much fat as those who did not.
2. Grapefruit When volunteers ate half a grapefruit before every meal in a University of Arizona study, they shaved an inch off their waists, thanks to naringenin, which experts say may help burn fat.
3. Nonfat ricotta Muscle loss as you age can tank your metabolism. Made from whey protein, ricotta can enhance muscle building and metabolism.
4. Bell peppers Vitamin C is an unsung weight loss weapon, and one bell pepper provides twice your daily dose.
5. Romaine lettuce Filling up with a leafy green can trim the overall number of calories you eat by 10 percent; two cups of romaine rack up half your daily fill of Vitamin A, plus 11.3 percent of bone-building Vitamin K.
6. Nuts Their satisfying trifecta of protein, healthy fat and fiber can help you slim down. To slow your intake, choose nuts in their shells.
7. Melon Satisfy your sweet tooth by spooning a thick slice from the rind for just 45 calories.
8. Canned salmon Protein requires more calories to digest and keeps you feeling full. With nearly 17 grams of it per three ounces, salmon makes getting your fill of protein a breeze. (If, like me, you just can’t do canned salmon go for a small can of nice, light, white albacore tuna!)
9. Edamame Packed with an intelligent combo of protein, healthy fat and fiber, these pods are guaranteed to keep you full and satisfied for hours.
10. Dark chocolate (yes!) chips These flavor bombs put the brakes on a craving. The little pieces fool you into thinking you’re getting more, helping you eat less, finds new research.
So, fire up for swimsuit season by filling up on these fun, fat-fighting foods.

See you at the beach!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.

The Best Banana Bread Ever
By Carol LeBeau
3/11/2013 3:33:57 PM


–FULL BIO
 

For decades, Tom and I frequented a cute café in Coronado called “Stretch’s….” an eclectic little eatery on Orange Avenue known for it’s huge, fresh salads. My favorite was a combo plate with an array of greens, assortment of fruit and homemade chicken salad.

But the best part was the thick slice of freshly baked banana bread that came with the salad. In all my life I’ve never tasted banana bread that good. Just writing about it makes me salivate!

But alas, the recipe for the sensational sweet bread was “Stretch’s” secret. Fortunately, I could order a loaf or two for special occasions. When it was my turn to bring snacks for my couple’s group, Bible study or girlfriend brunch, “Stretch’s” fantastic bread would be gobbled up. All I had to do was enjoy the compliments!

Sadly, “Stretch’s” was sold last year and today a new restaurant has taken over the space. Boy, I miss that warm, moist banana bread.

By chance, I recently ran into the former owner of “Stretch’s,” Vicki Jones. Vicki was also responsible for baking their famous banana bread…fresh and warm every morning for years. After exchanging pleasantries, I told Vicki how much I missed her famous bread.

Vicki quickly found a piece of paper and began writing. It took a minute for me to figure out she was giving me the “secret” recipe for her mouth-watering banana bread! Oh, joy! “Don’t worry,” Vicki smiled. “It’s not a secret anymore.”

Vicki also said it was okay to share her secret with you. So here it is…the recipe for the best darn banana bread in the universe! Enjoy!

Vicki’s Banana Bread
Mix in Kitchen Aid:
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
½ lb. margarine
4 large bananas

Mix until appears curdled

Add: 2 cups flour
1tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Mix until well blended (2-3 minutes)
Pour into greased loaf pan
Spread ¼ cup brown sugar on top
Cover half with walnuts
Bake at 375 for 55-60 minutes

I think it’s the brown sugar and walnuts that make it so special. Give it a try. And when it’s your turn to bring snacks, you’ll be a hero!

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.

When It Comes to Chocolate - Go Dark
By Carol LeBeau
2/14/2013 9:24:21 AM


–FULL BIO
 

When it Comes to Chocolate – Go Dark

There’s a new Walgreens in my neighborhood. The other day I decided to stop by the shiny, new store and pick up some eye drops. It didn’t take long to realize at Walgreens, love is definitely in the air.

My senses were overwhelmed with wall to wall displays of Valentine’s Day “stuff” from teddy bears and balloons to cards and, of course, aisles of chocolate.

With Cupid just around the corner, many of us have chocolate on our minds. And though you may fear the number of calories in those heart-shaped boxes, there are many reasons to love Valentine’s Day goodies…especially the dark chocolate treats.

I’ll bet most of you are aware of the anti-oxidant properties of dark chocolate. Anti-oxidants are those “scavengers” in the body that gobble up dangerous free radicals and other destructive molecules known to have a role in the spread of cancer.

Among foods such as fruits, veggies and teas, dark chocolate is actually one of the highest sources of two powerful anti-oxidants caked flavonoids and catechins. But wait! There’s more good news for your chocolate lovers. Here are five more reasons to treat yourself to a bite of chocolate:

1. It helps you exercise longer: A recent study found eating a tiny amount of dark chocolate before a workout helps fight fatigue. That amount used in the study was tiny…just half a square, but if it’s good quality chocolate, a small square will go a long way.

2. It’s stress relieving: When highly stressed study participants ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate (the equivalent of a Hershey’s Bar) a day for two weeks, the level of stress hormones in their bodies dropped significantly. While eating a candy bar a day can contribute to a whole new set of stresses if you’re watching your weight, it’s nice to know that dark chocolate has a measurable effect on stress levels. (Swap out the calories from a glass of wine and you won’t gain an ounce!)

3. It’s heart-healthy: Numerous studies have found that dark chocolate increases blood flow, which keeps your ticker in top shape. Those who ate small amounts of
chocolate a day had increased blood flow due to more dilated blood vessels, in addition to better heart function.

4. It’s good when you’re sick: If you can’t get the rest you need because of a nagging cough, try dark chocolate. Theobromine, an ingredient in the chocolate, has been proven to suppress a cough. Just be careful. If you’re trying to go to sleep, remember that a dark chocolate Hershey’s Bar has 30 milligrams of caffeine…the equivalent to a cup of tea.

5. It lowers blood pressure: Increasing blood flow also helps your heart in another way. A study found that eating a small square of dark chocolate a day helps regulate your blood pressure by increasing blood flow as well as dilating blood vessels and releasing nitric oxide. If you’re managing your blood pressure levels, a daily, small dose of dark chocolate may help!

So, there you have it. This Valentine’s Day, don’t be afraid to go for the chocolate –
just make sure it’s dark.

(And would one of you please remind my husband that See’s dark chocolate assortment is my fave? And yes, you can tell him I’ll share.)

Have a Happy, Healthy Valentine’s Day!
 

Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@pph.org.

The Great Pumpkin
12/7/2012 1:38:47 PM
 

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.